In our work to educate and increase awareness about the need for immigration reform, we have discovered a common thread. Tell someone about why he should support immigration reform and you may only be partially successful at convincing him of the need for immigration reform. Introduce him to an immigrant and let that immigrant tell the horrors of navigating the U.S. immigration system and almost always you hear: ‘Well that doesn’t make sense.’ This is especially true when he discovers that immigrants are hardworking and family-oriented just like he is.
The morale of this story: personal connections matter. In a debate as controversial as immigration, personal, one-on-one relationships make a difference.
With this in mind, the online magazine Busted Halo has launched a project called Busted Borders that emphasizes these one-on-one relationships. The website, operated by the Paulist fathers, distributed flip video cameras to young immigrants to share their experiences living in the United States. The stories are real and they are heart wrenching. The stories offer a personal view into the pain, struggle, and courage of immigrants and particularly young immigrants in this country.
Busted Halo recognizes the power of personal connections. As they point out in their description of the project, the goal is to “move the immigration debate away from abstractions and statistics.” Catholic social teaching also emphasizes the need to recognize the humanity in others, especially migrants who whether by force or voluntary have a right to seek a better life and conditions worthy of a human being.
The immigration debate requires lots of single voices to join as one. Remember the 2006 marches?
Talk to your husband, sister, church members, co-workers, and anyone that will listen. Share your stories about immigrants. Introduce someone to an immigrant. It is the single, ‘little’ voices like those participating in Busted Borders that can make a difference. We should each talk about our fellow brothers and sisters and help others to see immigrants as their brothers and sisters. As we continue our work for immigration reform, let’s work to forge more of these personal connections.