Fr. Francisco Garcia – priest at Holy Faith Episcopal Church in Inglewood, California and graduate of Claremont School of Theology – helped organize the Interfaith Day of Prophetic Action on Maundy Thursday, April 13, 2017. Police arrested Fr. Garcia along with nearly three dozen additional protestors and clergy members.
Fr. Garcia shared with CST his statement explaining why it was important for him to risk arrest at this time.
“A few weeks ago, I accompanied Carmen – a mother who fled Honduras after being violently assaulted, and is seeking political asylum – to her immigration check-in. Her family has a harrowing story. You can learn about their story here, written in Spanish.
As I was inside the Immigration building awaiting her return, I had this reflection:
My father was a wandering Aramean, and he went down to Egypt and sojourned there… (Deuteronomy 26:5)
Each morning – hundreds upon hundreds of people, maybe more – make their way to get into this line at the immigration offices. It is a line of anxiety and trepidation for most; for some, cautious optimism and hope.
Each person, each family, has a story – of fleeing violence, persecution, economic despair. Of crossing “la linea” in search of something – safety, shelter, perhaps a better future for one’s children.
In my case, “My father was a wandering Mexican, and he went down to the United States and sojourned there…” (Garcia, 1968)
My father did it. My grandparents did it. Migration is a human story. It is the story of the people of God.
May God be with all who enter through these doors today. May justice roll down like water, and righteousness like a flowing stream. Amen.
As I engage in nonviolent civil disobedience on this Interfaith Day of Prophetic Action Standing with Immigrant and Refugee families everywhere, I lift up in particular the story of Carmen and her family, who live every day with anxiety and uncertainty; of Romulo Avelica-Gonzalez, who remains in detention and separated from his wife and daughters; I lift up the story of my father and grandparents, who sojourned into the U.S. without papers out of economic despair and with the hope of providing something better for their families.
On Maundy Thursday, Jesus, after washing the feet of his disciples, told them that they were to follow a new commandment: that they love one another, just as he loved them. People would know that they were followers of Jesus by their concrete expressions of love and solidarity for their fellow humanity.
As a priest and follower of Jesus, I feel compelled to love others by challenging our unjust immigration detention and deportation system that dehumanizes, separates, and creates trauma for members of our human family. We must find the way to create the beloved community where all of God’s people are truly free.