In the Lectionary

Sunday, September 12, 2010: Jeremiah 4:11-12, 22-28; 1 Timothy 1:12-17; Luke 15:1-10

A few years ago when Tomas wrecked a car, the police didn't care about his immigration status. But times have changed. During a routine traffic stop a few days ago, Tomas was handed over to the INS. Now police have taken him away. His wife and friends are trying to raise money to send him back to Mexico so that he can begin the process of arranging his return. Otherwise he'll be deported to Mexico, and it will be five years before he can come back to the United States.

Until recently a kind of balance existed in this country. Many U.S. residents understood that the alien labor force was keeping food prices low and supporting public affluence. That realization offset anxiety about the legality of the aliens' status. But as economic times become more difficult, more and more people have begun to feel that they are receiving no benefit from the wealth created by such workers. Undocumented im­migrants have be­come the target of their resentment.

The economic crisis resulted in part from a deliberate loosening of controls. The U.S. allowed borders to be breached in areas located between U.S. financial institutions and their enterprises. Safeguards left over from post-Depression reforms were abandoned when business owners said they were slowing business. Removing these barriers was supposed to stimulate commerce and create wealth—and it did for some, for a while. But now aliens are being deported, and executives are being prosecuted. Things have gotten out of balance, and somebody has to pay.