This post by Ezequiel Herrera is part of the #PCUSAWallofWelcome Advent series on migration gathered by the PCUSA Office of Immigration Issues and PPF. Follow #PCUSAWallofWelcome on social media to see other posts and reflections.
The first stanza of the Advent hymn O Come, O Come Emmanuel reads…
O come, o come Emmanuel
To free your captive Israel
That mourns in lonely exile here
Until the Son of God appear
These words describe the aspirations and hopes of immigrants who dream of a Savior who will come and break loose the chains of oppression, injustices, and abuses that they experience on a regular basis. In the Hebrew Scriptures, God commands and orders the Israelites not to mistreat, oppress, or exploit the aliens living among them. (See Exodus 22:21).
Back in my country of birth, from an early age, I was exposed to Haitian migrant workers who would go to the Dominican Republic to work in the sugar cane fields. They were constantly mistreated, abused, and exploited by the powers that be and even by the population at large. My father was as a rural physician worked at a local community clinic providing health care to them. He always made a point to treat them with kindness, respect and compassion. My early exposure to them, prepared me “to see the face of the others.”
As the Caravan of Migrants from Central America continues towards the United States with dreams and hopes to enter into a land where they dream to be freed from cruelties, abuses, and abhorrent violence experienced in their home countries, my father’s work among the Haitian migrant workers comes to mind.
Let’s put our faith into action and make sure that we will not wrong or oppress them.
Ezequiel Herrera is a senior student at Austin Presbyterian Theological Seminary where he is a Chapel Beadle and leader of the Hispanic Students Association.