Not in My Neighborhood?

screenshot-2017-02-27-11-00-01The best way to ease our conscience regarding deportations of immigrants is for us tell ourselves that the government is targeting “criminal aliens.” No one will lose sleep if “bad hombres” are the only people being spirited away by ICE agents.

Then comes the news that the manager of the local Piggly Wiggly, the fellow who has lived as your neighbor for 20 years, has been arrested and imprisoned. That’s what happened to residents of Apalachicola, Florida. Jose Francisco “Pancho” Grijalva Monroy was a familiar face – a neighbor, a friend. Surely he’s not a “criminal alien.”

It turns out that Mr. Monroy did have a run-in with the law a few years ago. The charges were dropped, but it appears his name remained on a list. Somehow I doubt the residents of Apalachicola will sleep more soundly now that that their friend and neighbor resides in the ICE retention center in Wakulla County.

Juan Carlos Hernandez Pacheco – just Carlos to the people of West Frankfort, Illinois — has managed the La Fiesta Mexican restaurant in the heart of town for a decade. He’s the kind of neighbor who knows your kids by name, who brought food for local firefighters during a big fire, and who drove 2 hours to the hospital to visit someone he had heard about – not a relative – just someone who needed a visit.

Carlos was picked up by ICE agents on February 9. It turns out he was arrested for DWI years ago. And, yes, he’s an immigrant from Mexico without papers.

Residents of West Frankfort call Carols a “stand-up guy,” a “role model for life,” a “pillar of the community.” Although the town of 8,000 voted solidly for Mr. Trump, nobody seems to have imagined that the “bad hombres” Mr. Trump promised to expel would include Carlos. Now they’re writing letters of support to ICE – everybody from the mayor to the high school coach to the local prosecutor.

When immigrants acquire faces and names, when your kids go to school with their kids, when they show up with free food to feed the local fire brigade – you see them not as “criminal aliens” but as neighbors.

And we all know what Jesus says about neighbors.

About Brant Copeland

I was born in Brownsville, Texas, grew up in San Antonio and in Lake Charles, Louisiana. I'm the pastor of First Presbyterian Church, Tallahassee, Florida.
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4 Responses to Not in My Neighborhood?

  1. Mary Anne Hoffman says:

    Excellent!

  2. David says:

    Brant, Thank you for “Not in My Neighborhood” . Again this brings up my sadness and anger at our current administration. In total contrast:

    I’d like share with you a segment from Friday evening’s PBS New hour, featuring a Muslim named Mohamed Bzeek from Los Angeles. A man, who lives alone, (wife died of cancer, he recently had successful surgery for colon cancer) who I estimate to be in his 60’s, who is a Foster Parent caring FOR TERMINALLY ILL CHILDREN alone, except for a woman who helps part time. This story brought me to tears. I believe in a God that makes no distinctions in humankind, and this Muslim man puts many to shame, including me, and, especially our President.

    I googled the PBS web site and was able to bring up Friday’s program, and this segment. His story is very moving. I highly recommend it. Hope you can find time to watch. Thanks, Dave

  3. Suzanne says:

    Also see, Leviticus 19:34
    The foreigner residing among you must be treated as your native-born. Love them as yourself, for you were foreigners in Egypt. I am the Lord your God.

  4. Dale Tullier says:

    Leviticus 19:33-34 says the alien who resides with us should be treated as a neighbor, fairly and justly. Unfortunately fear and hatred seem to be in charge of our government. As a result we all become responsible for this atrocity. Spinoza pointed out that the members of a society share culpability for its actions, more so in a democracy and even when we openly oppose the action. For Christians the dilemma becomes how to oppose these unjust and destructive deportations and they are destructive to our sense of justice and fairness and they corrode our psyche and soul. Pray and support those who shelter the most vulnerable. Put faces and stories to those picked up. Call our Senators and Congressmen and inundate them with the life stories.

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