I typed it out in the back of a van as we made our way from a graveyard for unidentified migrants who died in the desert near the border, to an emergency shelter for 120 Guatemalans dumped on the doorstep of a Catholic church in Tucson. These words are an experiment in reading my place into the Scriptures as my Christian Peacemaker Team delegation prayed at the towering red steel strips of border wall. It was the story I was told to bring to you as we were scrutinized by border patrol agents crossing back from Mexico. It is a story retold with the testimonies of detained migrants fresh in my ears.

Then I, your God, sent you forth, and I plagued the cartels and the gangs and I brought you out from Chiapas, from Haiti, from Honduras, from El Salvador. You came by night across the desert, riding on the top of a train, hidden by a coyote. With your back to the wall, the smugglers loading you down with a backpack of heroin, your baby pressed into your breast against the frozen desert night, border agents in white vans tipped off by the sensor under your feet, your soles a throbbing wound; and border patrol pursued you as they pursued your ancestors with dictatorships and coups, enslaving you to puppet governments, maquiladoras, and free trade agreements until you came to the rusted metal fence erected to break your bones. When you cried out to the Lord, he put darkness between you and the border agents, or made the monsoon waters through the wash to break apart their fence, or had the lookouts perfectly relay your way to safety by cell phone; and your eyes saw what I did to your enemies.

Afterwards you lived in the wilderness for a long time. Then I brought you to the land of the United States, where you lived on the other side of the double fence, on the other side of the barbed wire; they fought with you, and you were handed over to their fast-track courts, left to waste away in their detention centers. They separated you from your children and deported your spouses. They put you in shackles for escaping the fist of your husband, the gang that threatened your teenage son, the poverty waking you up each morning in panic, the promise of a visa and a new life.

And you took possession of their land. Then Barack Obama, then Donald Trump set out to fight against you. They sent and invited Governor Jan Brewer, then governor Doug Ducey, the sheriffs, and ICE to curse you, but I would not listen to the state of Arizona; so I rescued you out of its hand.

When you went over the border in handcuffs seeking asylum, when you declared your danger and were met with for-profit prisons, reduced to merchandise by Core Civic who fought against you, and also Jeff Sessions, and Thomas Beasely, and Kirstjen Nielsen; and I handed them over to you.

I sent the hornet ahead of you, the lawyers and organizers, raising funds for your bond and finding your family, which drove out before you the governors of the border states; it was not by your swiftness or by your skill. I gave you a land on which you had not labored, and towns that you had not built, and you live in them; you live in houses and send your children to schools, you work and pray and sleep. You live in safety.

 

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