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Thursday, February 07, 2008

Desert Flower in an Icy Dreamland

FLOR CRISOSTOMO is 28 years old. She is not a citizen of the United States, though she is trying to live her own tiny dream here. Which involves being alive, working very hard, living on extremely modest means (I can earn in an hour or so what this person does in a ten-hour a day work-week), wearing clothes, sending money to her three children, and sharing a two-bedroom apartment with four other women. Flor was dropped off in the desert after she paid a smuggler to take her away from México and up to El Norte, where she knew (as all know down below) that she could feed herself and her kids.

Crisostomo, who spoke through a translator, said she left Iguala Guerrero, Mexico, after she was unable to find a job that would allow her to buy enough food for her two boys and one girl, ages 9 to 14.

In July 2000 she paid a smuggler to take her across the border and spent three days lost in desert-like conditions before making it to Los Angeles, she said. A month later she arrived in Chicago, where she worked 10 hours a day, six days a week in an IFCO Systems site that made packing materials.

By last year, she earned about $360 a week, sending $300 to her children for food, clothes and school books, she said. To keep her own costs down, she lived with four other women in a two-bedroom Chicago apartment.

'My children's lives improve a lot as a result,' she said. 'It wasn't luxury. But it meant they could survive.'

Immigration authorities raided more than 40 IFCO sites in the U.S. in 2006 and arrested Crisostomo, along with more than 1,100 other people. The Board of Immigration Appeals last year denied Crisostomo's appeal and told her to leave the United States by Monday.

Church harbors woman facing deportation

THIS is the ILLEGUL you speak of, Dobbs. Buchanan. Tancredo, Romney. (And many, many other less-visible US Citizens, as evidenced by far too many threads online and Letters to the Editor in print.) Even while you and I benefit from millions who live in similar poverty, fear, and persecution. This is the type of person you choose to feel NOTHING for. Because of an invisible border, and I mean the one that chokes off your own sense of proportion, reason and humanity; the mental fence that squeezes a heart until it can only stream cess, poisoning the system with septic propagandic, misanthropic, greed-fueled thought. Yes, I would indict all those who do not sympathize or empathize with her plight. Yes, I think it is a moral issue, and YES, if the American Dream doesn't include her, then I want no part of it!

For now, Flor has taken refuge in a church, a church in a land where even a "man of god" feels the need to bow to the pressure of the current deportation-only zeitgeist of the USA, the current selective-human-rights approach; actually making excuses for sheltering her.

It's unfortunate we have to do this. This church has other priorities, like helping the poor in this neighborhood,' the Rev. Walter Coleman said. 'But God didn't give us a choice. When God says do this, we say, 'Yes, sir!'"

Church harbors woman facing deportation

It is unfortunate? I am tempted to ask why? Because you have sought a calling that recognizes not countries, but souls? Or because, as you imply, a Man of God is but Yes-Man in the end? Is there a finite amount of love to be disseminated to the locals? Okay, food and resources. But why not appeal to the locals? Use your calling and your heart to remind them of our obligation to the human being? Why must God's dictums be in conflict with the Church's priorities?

And Other Priorities, like helping the poor in this neighborhood. But where does our humanity end? Is it at the county line? Or does the soul only stretch to the borders of the block? We cannot rest our reasoning here. We must take accountability for our fellow humans. She is our neighborhood. She is our business. She is the poor.

México is our neighborhood too. Just as Iraq is our neighborhood. Especially now. USA! You do not visit war and economic hardship on humans, steal their resources, and then get to wash your hands! That is the Devil's work if I ever heard of such a thing. Esta planeta is our neighborhood. Anywhere human hearts beat is our neighborhood. Anywhere children are in fear, or need food is our neighborhood.

But let me back up. I don't mean to focus my anger and feelings of frustration on one man, one person who actually is helping. And perhaps he means it is unfortunate that the government is placing people in this position. (Or at least we can choose to read it that way.) It is important to remember that a reporter quotes selectively for various reasons. Here's a different quote from the same man, found in a different place.

"She wanted to continue the struggle,” the Rev. Walter Coleman said of Crisostomo. ”That’s what the church is for, to provide space where the truth can be told."

Nuestra Voice

Additionally, the first quote just happens to reflect a sad reality here in the USA. Just as the title of the article does. "Church Harbors Woman Facing Deportation." Sounds accurate, eh? But how is the word "harbor" normally used when talking about law? Right. "Harboring a fugitive." So here we subtly stain the church's deed. And put pressure on them to stop helping people in need. And that is exactly the reason why you have a Man of God saying it is "unfortunate" that he actually does humane work!

Let me rewrite that title. How about "Church Provides Humane Respite From Aggressive Indiscriminate Law." Or "Church Stands Strong in the Face of Legal Persecution"? See? Accurate, too.

No, it is not the reverend's fault that he is surrounded by the pressures and amorality he is, by the incongruity of our national attitudes...or should I say hypocrisy?

We will all now, for the next week or so, be pouring our hearts out for those whose homes and families were wrecked by the storms and who are suffering. And those people do deserve our money and our hearts and our help. And a visit from the President. And our national attention and concern.

But the millions living here in situations like Flors...don't? We use the goods they make. We eat the food they sow and reap. We live on the taxes they pay. We keep neat green yards with their sweat. And we look the other way as home after home is raided, family after family is wrecked, as big voices in media and politics speak of mass deportations, we ignore the ongoing massive accumulation of pain and sorrow that this imbalance breeds and I say what sort of nation is this? What sort of selective empathy and human rights do we practice in the Land of Opportunity? What sort of humanity excuses itself from appearing with a muttered excuse about a "law"? The reasoning and functioning is foreign to me. Especially when our law allows us to cross any border we want and take or give any amount of pain or resources we desire.

Law, in and of itself, is not Just. Law, all by itself, is not truth. Current law only represents humans' intentions to manifest a just truth at a certain point in the past. And this same law often needs humans, later, to correct it and bring it in line with truth, and what is just in the present moment.

One who breaks an unjust law that conscience tells him is unjust, and who willingly accepts the penalty of imprisonment in order to arouse the conscience of the community over its injustice, is in reality expressing the highest respect for law.

Martin Luther King, Jr.

I stand with the desert flower. I stand with all others who stand with her. She represents, to me, humanity. I stand with her because I am an American, and I believe in dreams, struggle, opportunity, and Justice. For all.

And mostly, I stand with Flor because turning my back would mean losing myself and all that is important in my own soul and nature.

Crossposted to The Unapologetic Mexican, Culture Kitchen, and OpEdNews.

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