It’s very difficult today to separate the topic of immigration from political partisanship. I’m going to ask you today to try to do just that. Let’s not talk about the ins and outs of immigration laws nor enforcement.
Please hear me today as I try to address the feelings of immigrants. I’ve tried this in the past. On this blog, it had mixed success; fortunately, it went much better in the congregation that I’m a part of.
At that time, I talked about Hispanics who felt uneasy because of changes in immigration enforcement. A lot of people thought that was only those who were here illegally. In fact, many questioned why legal immigrants would feel uneasy. A story in the news this week shows why many feel uneasy.
(Yes, this may be an isolated incident. No, no one is saying that this is evidence of widespread raids targeting Hispanics. Please put down your politics for a moment, pick up your compassion, and keep reading)
According to Sava’s representative Bree Stillwell, who spoke with Eater.com, five ICE agents entered the dining establishment at about 11:30 a.m. to eat breakfast. When they were done, they “went into the kitchen to apprehend one of our employees who wasn’t on at the time,” as they suspected he did not have the proper documentation.
When the ICE agents realized the employee wasn’t on duty, Stillwell says they turned their attention to other cooks in the kitchen, and started demanding their documentation instead.
One employee had an especially bad time. Yahoo notes:
About the same time, line cook Carlos Rivera-Ochoa took out the trash in the back when officers slapped handcuffs on him, according to Lelcaj. Rivera-Ochoa told MLive he carries his permanent residency card with him, and he was released shortly after being taken into a vehicle and fingerprinted.
So Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents went to a restaurant looking for a certain individual. Upon not finding them, they began questioning others about their immigration status. One legal immigrant (with documentation) was handcuffed, placed in a vehicle, fingerprinted, then released.
This is what many legal immigrants fear. Will it become commonplace? I doubt it. Will there be widespread raids? I doubt it.
Will many people live with a degree of fear and uncertainty? I’m sure of it.
The New York Daily News has this from the restaurant owner:
Lelcaj said that she and her team were shaken by the incident. “They are feeling like they can get arrested anytime because of the color of their skin. There is heightened fear in their community,” she said.
The next time you hear about fearful immigrants, please respond as a Christian and not just a Democrat or a Republican. The fear exists, whether it’s justified or not. Show some compassion.