The 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.