Columban Center for Advocacy and Outreach

Making Room at the Welcome Table

December 9, 2013

  Lauren Snell, CVUSA

Rev. Bernice King, daughter of Martin Luther King, speaks out on immigration reform in solidarity with the fasters.

Today, I went to a press conference for the Fast4Families Campaign.  There were political, faith-based, community stakeholders- and most importantly- the fasters in attendance. For the last 22 days, these people have shown great sacrifice by consuming only water, drawing attention to the need for the U.S. government to grant citizenship for 11 million undocumented immigrants.

Our current system rips apart families due to detention centers and deportations as well as puts people at risk when they decide to cross the border in the most extreme conditions. It is time that decision-makers understand that all immigrants have the right to human dignity and the right to move when there are little resources for themselves and their families to survive.

During the press conference, the fasters handed over the fast to a new group of people and one woman caught my attention.

She confessed that she did not support immigration reform until a few months ago because she thought if her support went to immigration reform, it would take away from the plight that African Americans like herself face in the United States every day. She finally recognized that immigrants and African Americans share a similar fate due to a broken legal system that targets their appearance and their culture. She realized that mobilization is essential to fight for various forms of social justice.

Furthermore, Jesus’s message inviting everyone to the welcome table also resonated throughout the event. Everyone should have a seat at the welcome table and if we cannot provide an extra seat along with place settings, we are not trying hard enough.

We as a whole cannot let another day go by that parents are taken away from their children or allow one more person to be lost in the desert. As Rev. Bernice King, daughter of Rev. Martin Luther King Jr., told the fasters, quoting her father: “The hour is late. The clock of destiny is ticking out. We must act now before it is too late. It is trite but urgently true, that if America is to remain a first class nation it can no longer have second class citizens.”

Just as Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. had a dream for racial equality, Retired Cardinal McCarrick of the Baltimore- Washington Diocese shared his dream of equality for all immigrants. Read the words he spoke to the fasters here.

Read a faith statement from the fasters here.

If we truly want justice to overcome, we cannot undervalue individuals or their contributions to our country’s progress. We must fight for each other and not just for ourselves because the need to change government structures is anything but a short-term or individual issue. We must honor each and every person because with God’s love we are one of the same, and inherently possess dignity, and a seat at the welcome table.