Yesterday was ONE’s Lobby Day: I accompanied the Arizonans to their meetings; met Sen. Scott Brown (MA) in the Rotunda of the Russell building, and Sen. Jon Tester (MT) in the elevator of the Hart building; got to stop by and say hi to my friends Doug and Danielle (and got a whistlestop Capitol tour from the latter); and had a thoroughly enjoyable–though exhausting–time. But I headed home at the end of the day with one big question:
How do women walk in heels?
This morning I sat in the Senate Gallery in the U.S. Capitol with about a hundred immigrant youths to show my support for and solidarity with these DREAMers. And sitting with them, hands clasped, heads bowed, lips praying, the reality of their situation hit home to me. These young people, brought to the United States as minors, had known no other home than America and wanted nothing more than to serve and contribute openly for the good of the country. And this morning, that occasion, was more than just a vote for them, more than just the raising or dropping of an index finger to signify approval or disapproval. This morning’s vote was about the very lives and livelihoods of the approximately 800,000 undocumented young people who would benefit from the DREAM Act.
This morning was what I needed: a reminder that the work that we do in seeking to live out the gospel’s demands of justice, of speaking up for the marginalized and voiceless, and of welcoming the stranger, really does matter.
Moving forward, the words of Martin Luther King, Jr. and Theodore Parker echo in my head: “The arc of the moral universe is long but it bends toward justice.”
I have faith that justice will be served for these young people, that they will be afforded the chance to contribute and live lives out of the shadows. I have faith because justice is at the very heart of God, because the defense of those who are marginalized and oppressed is always the right thing to do. I have faith because American progress, though often slow and tortuous, continues to rumble forward, and comprehensive immigration reform–including the DREAM Act–that demolishes and defeats xenophobic rhetoric and anti-immigrant fear mongering will have its day.
And it will come soon. Not as soon as we would like, perhaps. But soon.
[Praying with the DREAMers after the vote.]
Got back to DC last Thursday. Leave for Illinois next Tuesday.
That’s the news for now, folks. Though there may/will be news coming …
P.S. In non-me-related news, the Senate Republicans united to defeat a cloture motion that would allow the Defense Authorization bill, including the “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” repeal and the DREAM Act; which dents hopes for the passage of both of those pieces of legislation. However, the Child Protection Compact Act, which is geared toward combating child trafficking, was approved by the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, which means it could come to the floor for a vote.
UPDATE: My friend Allison Johnson, who heads up Sojourners’ Christians for Comprehensive Immigration Reform campaign, had this to say after today’s vote: “Our DREAMs Deferred, Our Hearts Emboldened.” She offered up this Martin Luther King, Jr. quote as an closing encouragement:
We must accept finite disappointment but never lose infinite hope.
Click to enlarge this helpful infographic:
Thanks to GOOD and Mike Wirth.
When times are tough, when you’ve got to tighten your belt, that’s when you know what your priorities really are. This week, Congress showed where its priorities lie: the Senate passed a war funding measure worth nearly $60 billion, while the House cut billions of dollars in aid to states and health insurance subsidies for unemployed and laid-off workers.
War over people. Swords over plowshares.
Oh, for that day …
He shall judge between the nations, and shall arbitrate for many peoples; they shall beat their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruning hooks; nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war any more. (Isaiah 2:4)