Breaking down the dividing walls

For Christ is our peace . . . he has brought both groups into one and has broken down the dividing wall of hostility. (Ephesians 2:14)

I stood on the hill in the twilight in Nogales, Arizona looking down over the U.S./Mexico border wall into Mexico. How broken our relationships must be in order to make a wall like this one, 20 feet high for hundreds of miles, necessary.

I was with a group of staff from Mennonite Central Committee from all over the Americas who had gathered in Tucson to strategize our future work together to help tear down this wall.

Tearing down this wall will mean caring for people in need on both sides of the border, whether or not they have the right papers.

Tearing down this wall will mean working with communities throughout Mexico and Central America to be help people develop sustainable livelihoods so that people are not so desperate to go North to provide for their families.

Tearing down this wall will mean working in the United States for fairer trade laws so that farmers South of the border wall can receive an equitable return for their crops.

Tearing down this wall will mean advocating for immigration policies that are more hospitable to all who enter our country, regardless of their circumstances.

Looking down on the border wall in the twilight, I am remembering meeting Helio and Clemente just a few hours before at a transport company on the Mexico side of the border. Both had been working in the vineyards in Napa Valley but were deported when they were found without formal documents. Now they are waiting for a friend who was also being processed for deportation.

"We just want to work," Helio and Clemente told me over and over again. With no hope for jobs in their own countries of origin, it was clear they would be trying to cross the border again soon so that they could earn some money to help support their families back home.

"We are not deliquents, we just want to work," they told me. Talking to Helio and Clemente, it was hard to understand why people in my country are so fearful of migrants. People are afraid to help each other. Border violence is increasing. And thousands of people like Helio and Clemente are becoming even more vulnerable.

If Christ is our peace and his desire is to tear down the walls of hostility between people, what is our responsibility as his followers in the United States to help?

That's what I'm thinking in the twilight this evening.


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