The holidays are here, which supposedly make up the most wonderful time of the year. This year, the president has thrown in with Christmas in a big way, claiming that he has brought Christmas back and it’s “bigger and better than ever.” I’m not sure it was missing necessarily, but an emphasis on joy and generosity would be well worth it these days. Unfortunately, missing from this presidential proclamation is the actual SPIRIT of Christmas as more and more families and communities are ripped apart by harsh enforcement policies.
I don’t think it will be a very “Merry Christmas” for Oscar and Humberta Campos, a couple that was deported last Friday to Mexico after calling the United States their home for more than three decades. Now they are separated from their three U.S. citizen children and landscaping business, and it was reported that the couple was, “forced to sign over a power of attorney to their oldest son so that he can care for his 16-year-old sibling, who is a sophomore in high school, and take over the home’s mortgage.” This is, sadly, becoming a frequent occurrence as we approach the close of 2017.
At the same time, a joyous Christmas seems out of reach for thousands of Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) holders who have already lost their ability to legally work and have a semblance of security. Despite a slew of calls for action on Dream, thus far their Christmas will be far from merry.
Countless others are entering the Christmas season with fear in their hearts and minds as they, despite years of hard work and contributions to our society and economy, are now facing a rigid and unforgiving deportation machine.
I ask you: Is this the true spirit of Christmas? Scapegoating? Xenophobia? Blocking refugees from seeking safety? An inability to absolve someone, forgive them, for their actions?
Before I go any further, in full disclosure, I am Jewish and celebrate Chanukah, but I did my research on the spirit of Christmas. I went to the source: presidential spiritual adviser Paula White. Pastor White provides in her blog post titled “Merry Christmas – I Declare You Blessed” the following scripture portions that seem they should be applicable not only during the Christmas season, but year-round:
John 13:34 “Let me give you a new command: Love one another. In the same way I loved you, you love one another. This is how everyone will recognize that you are my disciples – when they see the love you have for each other.”
The president often blames prior administrations and Congress for their inaction on amending our immigration laws, or not enforcing the ones on the books. But, this doesn’t excuse him from lacking compassion and using scorched earth policies. Immigration is much more complicated than just taking a person and uprooting them from their home, their family and their community. As Pastor White also provides the following passages about compassion in her Christmas blog post:
Galatians 6:10 “So then, as we have opportunity, let us do good to everyone, and especially to those who are of the household of faith.”
Psalms 41:1 “Blessed is the one who considers the poor! In the day of trouble the LORD delivers him.”
The spirit of Christmas is about treating humans with dignity and respect. It is about family. It is about love and loving others. Pastor White shares her excitement at helping children in need. Sadly, soon she and all of us will be faced with an immense challenge. As more people, like Oscar and Humberta, get deported from the country and leave behind their children, there will be far too many opportunities to help needy children who would be better off emotionally, economically and psychologically with their parents.
Christmas may be “better than ever,” in the president’s mind, but don’t try telling that to the children of Oscar and Humberta Campos. The administration can say “Merry Christmas” repeatedly, but those words ring hollow without actions that back them up. Despite being deported and potentially not being able to return to the U.S. for a decade or longer, Mr. Campos passed along important wisdom to his children that we should all heed: “Fight for your dreams because life continues and you will always find good people that support you. There are a lot of good people. Don’t give your hopes up.”
I stand with you, Mr. Campos. I stand with your children. #AILAStandsWithImmigrants