Thursday, December 26, 2013

Kafka would love US immigration law

Franz Kafka’s writings describe seemingly pointless and disturbing situations, developing plots in which bureaucracies overpower people, creating nightmarish situations of senselessness and helplessness. Kafka’s characters struggle to escape their predicament.

Kafka could appreciate America’s immigration laws. They are as Kafkaesque as the politics creating the current inability of Congress to do anything to reduce the pointless and disturbing situations those laws create.

Both the arbitrary nature of enforcing current immigration laws and the congressional stalemate preventing reform seem senseless and disorienting unless one confronts the extent to which racism and stereotyping are interwoven with America’s foreign policy to create this mess.

A group of concerned citizens has been fasting in Washington to make that point. People in Cheyenne will now join them.

During the final week of this year and the first week of the New Year, people in our community will hold a fast in the atrium of the Herschler Building on December 26, 27, 30, 31, 2013 and January 2, 3, 2014 from 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. During those times, we will listen to the stories of those who have experienced the Kafkaesque nature of American immigration laws and give people an opportunity to email or call members of Congress to express concern.

Why are we fasting? We fast to raise public awareness of the suffering and sacrifice immigrants face in our country. As people of faith, we are called to stand with the vulnerable and the oppressed, to love our neighbors and welcome the stranger.

We fast to say that America’s immigration system takes children from parents and removes promising students from the only country they’ve ever known. A system that breaks up families is broken. The inhospitality and cruelty shown to immigrants weakens our nation’s soul and violates our scriptural heritage.  As neighbors, we must offer refuge to weary travelers, not declare that there is no room at the inn.

We commit to sharing the truth that US foreign policy and trade treaties contributed significantly to the migration to this country. We fast in order to give a voice to the voiceless people who are the victims of these laws.

We call for an end to human rights abuses perpetrated against migrants, an end to laws that promote racial profiling and punish foreign-born individuals living in this country, and for the passage of humane, comprehensive immigration reform that offers a pathway to citizenship for undocumented individuals in this country.

A Kafka quote describes the surreal circumstances surrounding this issue. “I write differently from what I speak, I speak differently from what I think, I think differently from the way I ought to think, and so it all proceeds into deepest darkness.”

When it comes to immigration, American’s cultural history differs from its contemporary political attitudes. Elected officials speak differently from what they know must be done. Politicians act differently than they would if they hadn’t spoken differently from what they think, “and so it all proceeds into deepest darkness.”

If you have any knowledge of the real-life of undocumented workers and their families and then you listen to our congressional delegation talk about pending reform efforts on local talk shows, you can only conclude they have one foot on a banana and the other in a Kafka novel.

Using political talking points and buzzwords the seek to assure their base they oppose “amnesty,” and believe we “should secure the borders” before solving the problem and that “people who break the law should pay the price.” Either they don’t know, don’t care, or believe it would be bad politics to speak about the lives of those who suffer from their decisions to refrain from acting because the stories collide with their talking points. We fast believing they are good people who simply don’t know.

Google Read and compare their stories with your own notions and what you’ve been told by politicians.

It’s time for Congress to act. Join us in these days of fasting. Be the message Congress needs to hear.

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