Lord God, during this Lenten season, teach us to come before you in humility, lamenting the signs that your kingdom has not yet come in its fullness. Help us to acknowledge our finitude and failings, and guide us into a journey of remembering rightly, repenting honestly, and responding faithfully. We long for the coming of your mosaic kingdom in Jesus Christ, our Lord, and invite your Holy Spirit to lead us now.
THIS DAY IN HISTORY: March 19, 1929
Between 1929 and 1936, the Mexican Repatriation forced between 500,000 to 2 million Mexican nationals from the United States to return to Mexico. This mandate was carried out without due process, targeting Mexicans in California, Texas and Colorado because of “the proximity of the Mexican border, the physical distinctiveness of mestizos, and easily identifiable barrios.” Justification for this forced return included saving money on the costs of welfare and a belief that immigrants were to blame for the negative effects of the Great Depression. Independent groups such as the American Federation of Labor and the National Club of America thought deporting Mexicans would free jobs for U.S. citizens, thereby pressuring the government into this Repatriation Movement.
Scholars estimate that as The Great Depression took hold — and many Americans believed Mexicans were taking away scarce jobs — the U.S. deported about 2 million Mexicans and Mexican-Americans. Many of them had been lured by the booming economy during much of the ’20s. Adrian Florido wrote about the mass deportations of the 1930s and 1940s, and California formally apologized in 2012 for its role in illegally deporting hundreds of thousands of U.S. citizens.
Later, as the U.S. entered World War II, it found itself in need of agricultural labor and instituted the Bracero Program, which allowed about 4.6 million Mexicans to cross the border legally to provide manual labor. By the early ’50s, as tens of thousands of U.S. service members were coming home to a postwar recession, President Truman ordered an inquiry that eventually placed much of the blame for the country’s social ills at the time on immigration.
When Eisenhower took over, his immigration commissioner unveiled “Operation Wetback,” a short-lived, military-style operation where the government rounded up more than 1 million people. Many of these people were deported by ship, in conditions comparable to that of an “eighteenth century slave ship” and hundreds of thousands of other braceros were dumped across the border. It was the second wave of mass deportations of Latinos undertaken by the U.S, and continued until the fall of 1954, when funding began to run dry and the government claimed the border had “been secured.”
SCRIPTURAL REFLECTION: EZEKIEL 47:21-23
21 “You are to distribute this land among yourselves according to the tribes of Israel. 22 You are to allot it as an inheritance for yourselves and for the foreigners residing among you and who have children. You are to consider them as native-born Israelites; along with you they are to be allotted an inheritance among the tribes of Israel. 23 In whatever tribe a foreigner resides, there you are to give them their inheritance,” declares the Sovereign Lord.”
RESPONSE OF LAMENT AND CONFESSION: Please spend some time in personal response, crying out to God with prayers, poems, songs, or art that expresses your lament and confession. If you feel led, please share these responses with others, using #lentenlament #day19
You may close with the following:
Lord have mercy,
Christ have mercy,
Lord have mercy.
CLOSING PRAYER: Prayer for Migrants and Refugees (Nouwen Network)
God, no one is stranger to you
And no one is ever far from your loving care.
In your kindness watch over migrants, refugees and asylum seekers,
Those separated from their loved ones,
Those who are lost
And those who have been exiled from their homes.
Bring them safely to the place where they long to be,
And help us always to show your kindness to strangers
And those in need.
We ask this through Christ our Lord,
Who too was a refugee and migrant
Who travelled to another land
Searching for a home.