December 19th, 2014


Yesterday there was a Posada celebration at a local church, and I went with my Spanish class.  Posadas are traditionally about Joseph and Mary going from house to house looking for lodging, but at this church they turned it into a drama about undocumented immigrants.

It was incredibly terrific, and very moving.  At the end of the play the family came to the border and asked to enter, and an Anglo, playing the part of an immigration official, refused them entrance and said, "What would you do if I wanted to come into your house?"  "Invite you in!" someone in the audience yelled, and someone else shouted, "Cold as ICE!", drawing out the "s" sound.  (ICE is US Immigration and Customs Enforcement.)  Kids carried signs saying things like, "Jesus Was a Migrant Child."

Then the pastor at the church invited everyone inside.  We listened to a Ugandan immigrant talk about being attacked in Uganda for being gay and escaping to the United States.  And then, much to my surprise (I'd thought there wouldn't be anything in the service I'd recognize), a man lit candles for the third night of Hanukah.  Yeah, it's one of those churches that tries to be all-inclusive, and I have to say I really did feel welcome.

Then we went to dinner, the kids screaming, and then -- finally -- the kids lined up and got presents.  (I didn't have time to shop, but I brought some deviled eggs (huevos diablos?) for the dinner.)  We ended up talking in Spanish to some of the parishioners who'd immigrated from Mexico and Guatemala and Honduras and listening to their fascinating stories.  There was one woman there whose daughter writes fantasy, which I thought was incredibly cool.

Well, I said I'd thought there wouldn't be anything in the service I'd recognize, but in fact my mother was an undocumented immigrant, something I wasn't allowed to talk about while she was alive.  (I did, of course, usually to someone complaining about "illegal aliens.")  Our immigration policy in this country is so stupid, so counter-productive -- no one works harder than immigrants, no one is more appreciative of the United States than people who literally risked their lives to come here, and no one knows more about this country, because to become a citizen you have to take a test about history and government that most people born here wouldn't be able to pass.  But at that church, at least, there were people doing what they could to help.  We all left heartened, and high on human fellow-feeling.