I buried his ashes today, Sunday, with well over 200 tearful family members, friends and well-wishers present, among them his 17 year-old stepson whom I baptized when he was an infant.
We frequently read about the thousands of people who die in the desert after crossing the border with Mexico. Yet, for altogether too many of us in our society, it is easy to dismiss these family providers as numbers, as law-breakers and as “Mexico’s problem.”
But this number has a name, Rafael, and Rafael has a history. He had to be cremated because of the merciless sun and elements of the desert, although his picture reveals a healthy, friendly 40-year-old man. He was well loved by many and generous, a model father, according to his stepson, and ever since he was touched deeply at a retreat four years ago, an active member of the Church of the Assumption in Richfield.
As we “echar la culpa” (blame) and argue over who’s responsible for the budget woes, serious ones, of our state and country, we easily overlook immigration reform with no attention to how it is intertwined with so much of what we do and who we are. All of us have benefited from the “illegal alien.”
As generous as we might be as a well-off society, we are also short-sighted. I say that with apologies to no one. We buried Rafael today, but we cannot bury our responsibilities to improve a very broken immigration system. After all, we’re baptized, and that’s not the way to imitate Jesus Christ.
Deacon Carl Valdez
Incarnation-Sagrado Corazón de Jesús, Minneapolis
Category: From Readers