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Posada Means Shelter: Las Posadas Vigil to Rep. Darrell Issa’s Home December 17, 2013

By Jaime J. Romo, Ed. D.

Jaime-RomoThe story re-enacted was not a play or performance, but a living testimony to the shared determination to bring justice to those who live in the shadow of fear of deportation, family separation, and marginalization. While congress rests, this group remains vigilant and determined to bring comprehensive immigration reform to all.

Against a black sky a procession of 40 candle lit contemporary pilgrims moved towards Rep. Darrell Issa’s brightly lit home. Dreamers; faith leaders; high school, university and graduate students; retired folks; military veterans; White; Black; Asian and Latino members of the North County Immigration Task Force re-enacted part of a traditional Nativity Story (Las Posadas). Their goal: to bring the Christmas spirit to Rep. Darrell Issa at his home. The group of constituents had been trying for several months to get a meeting to speak with Mr. Issa directly about comprehensive and humane immigration reform with a path to citizenship.

Singers were apprehensive about how they would be received in the neighborhood, but that quickly changed as the first residents opened both doors and parents and children stood with beaming smiles as they heard and read along with the bi-lingual lyrics.  They invited the large group in, not knowing the tradition of being part of the story where Joseph and Mary were turned away several times before finding shelter, “There’s no inn here, Go on with you, I can’t open up You might be a rogue”.Posada Shelter

One of the items that would be delivered to Rep. Issa was a letter that read, in part, “Like Mary and Joseph, we are weary of being turned away, but we cannot give up. The safety and survival of our families depends upon the willingness of you and your House colleagues to recognize our worth and dignity as hard working people looking for a better life for our children.”

Cesar, citizen son of undocumented parents, who was home on semester break from Williams College, observed, “This action was wonderfully creative, considering that we applied tradition to one of the nation’s most pressing issues; it was the most direct and most efficient way we could get our message across to Issa, especially since he has refused to meet with us.”

The singers explained that the final visit would be to the home of Rep. Issa’s, who they hoped would welcome them, on behalf of those seeking citizenship through comprehensive immigration legislation.  The candle light vigil procession moved from decorated house to house, singing Feliz Navidad and the traditional Las Posadas song. The next neighbor thanked the group, and another neighbor said that she was honored by the action.

“I can’t believe how friendly they were. When we told them about the connection between the Posadas and Immigration reform and the basket we would deliver, several said, ‘cool!”

Other visits throughout the state gave congressional representatives lumps of coal for their lack of action on immigration and other reform. At Rep. Issa’s home, the friendly carolers were not invited in.  Instead, they delivered a basket of fruit, locally harvested by immigrant workers, Christmas cards, as well as a letter and several scriptural passages related to immigration, such as:

“Don’t mistreat or oppress an immigrant, because you were once immigrants in the land of Egypt.”  (Exodus 22:21)

“When a foreigner lives with you in your land, you must not oppress him. You must regard the foreigner who lives with you as the native-born among you. You are to love him as yourself, for you were foreigners in the land of Egypt; I am Yahweh your God.”  (Leviticus 19:33-34 HCSB)

“The status quo is immoral as it creates a constant supply of vulnerable human beings that are fed into a system of human trafficking, exploitation, and perpetual poverty,” said Rev. Madison T. Shockley II, pastor, Pilgrim United Church of Christ.

As for future plans, group members hope that Rep. Issa will make immigration reform with a path to citizenship his first priority when congress resumes in January, 2014.  As part of the letter stated, “Mr. Issa, all we want for Christmas is immigration reform that keeps our families together and provides a path to citizenship for the 11 million of us who live in the shadows with the constant threat of deportation.  At the same time our current system needs to be fixed so that people in the future who want to come to work at jobs that America needs, can come in a legal and dignified manner.”

 

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