Children Immigration and Semantics Migration

“Arms welcome,
arms kill.” [1]

Passport and Password

[1] Martin Luther stated that the theologian of the cross names things for what they actually are.[2] That is a very relevant reminder today as we live under the tyranny of euphemisms and the dictatorship of the semantics migration, namely, the constant changing of the meaning of words, to the delight of the powers that be. Such constant change of meanings confuses the issue and distracts us from real solutions.

[2] Therefore, in dealing with immigrants who do not own a passport, we need a password to unpack the dehumanizing narratives with which the powerful have veiled this reality, we need to unveil reality from the many layers of lies in which it has been covered by and to unveil reality, as it has been defined by the “royalty.” Such unveiling reveals, for instance, that immigration should be understood first of all as the only possible solution available to millions of children and adults around the planet facing situations of extreme poverty and violence. That is in contradistinction to considering migration as “a problem” or “a crisis” by those who ‘don’t want to upset their peaceful digestion,’ as president Reagan said after the bombing of Grenada.[3]

[3] The first concept that needs to be unveiled is that of immigration. Granted, my own use of the term immigration, above, is anachronistic because that term was not coined until the Industrial Revolution.[4] However, my use of the term is warranted because even though the term is new, the experience of migrating, immigrating and transmigrating has been out there since time immemorial. Immigration is as old as humanity and even older than that! In the ecumenical creeds we confess that God emigrated from heaven. From the book of genesis we learn that Adam and Steve, oops, I mean and Eve, were asked to leave the Garden of Eden (Gen 3:23-24) thus becoming the first immigrants in the history of humanity. And according to anthropologists, our human ancestors mimicked animals in departing to other lands in search of food and water.[5]

[4] What is at stake is not the concept of immigration but its true meaning. Who holds the power to name reality? Who has the monopoly of semantics? In order to name the things what they actually are, as a theologian of the cross should, I propose the following glossary as a password to unlock or unveil the issue of immigration from the many layers of power semantics in which it has been covered. The different categories are: nomads, discoverers, pilgrims, reservationers, immigrants, aliens, refugees, criminals, dreamers and transmigrants, to list a few.

1. Nomads: Abraham 1200 BCE[5]

“Not that God chose the Jews, but that the Jews were the first people that choose God.”
Golda Meir[6]

[6] As a matter of fact with the exception of Africans, all human beings can be said to be immigrants who migrated from the African continent hundreds of thousands of years ago. We really are homo Africanis et mulier Africanis! Experts estimate that the first human migration took place about 50,000 years ago, as a consequence of hunger due to weather change.[7]

Immigration also played a central role in the stories that we Christians hold as sacred. In fact, as Christians the story of our salvation is rooted in the stories and geographies of immigration. Think of Hagar, Sarah and Abraham, wandering folks, food seekers, dreamers in pursuit of a promised land, who by being willing to become immigrants became also founders of the religions of Islam, Judaism and Christianity. All three religions bare the mark of their immigrant Abraham in the creed: “A wandering Aramean was my ancestor.” (Dt 26:5).

[8] Immigration or immigrants also had a central role in the ministry of the prophets of Israel and in the life and proclamation of Jesus. Indeed, immigrants, orphans and widows were, in Jesus’s religion, God’s favorites (Dt 10:18). The Old Testament’s utopia (utopia meaning a not yet a viable place) is a land where you can stay for good (Dt 26.15, Is 32.17, 42.6, 49.6, 65.17, 66.22, Ruth 1.8-16), a land where children are not left behind (Is 49.15).

[9] It is painful to see how that original insight of the Hebrew Scriptures is contradicted in modern day politics in the same place where the utopia originated. The current policy of the state of Israel seems to be one of welcoming the immigrants but with the caveat that almost all of them Jews themselves with the exception of welcoming 15% of USA citizens![8] This can be seen in the power semantics deployed by Israel’s Prime Minister, Golda Meir. Such manifest destiny semantics are used to justify the plundering of Palestianian land, and the reduction of Palestinan selves to nothingness. This can be seen in her quip: “Palestinians?… I don’t know what it means.”[9]

[10] We must return again and again to the nomadic roots of our faith. As religious descendants of Abraham, Sarah and Hagar, we must never forget that hospitality to the foreigner is not optional but an essential part of our faith (Exodus 22:21-24). Hospitality in our congregations must go beyond sharing “wine and cheese” or even just distributing food among those in need. True hospitality is rooted in love of the foreigner. We must love the immigrant as ourselves; in fact, to love the immigrant is translated into English Bibles as hospitality. Among nomads hospitality is a matter of life or death, to deny hospitality to the stranger is to deny them the means to survive another day. No wonder then that from the nomadic times hospitality has been considered a sacrament, and sacred duty rather than just a choice.

2. Discoverers, Civilizers

Christopher Columbus’ discovery of America failed
because he did not have either a visa or a passport.
Pedro Álvarez Cabral was not allowed to land in Brazil,
because he could spread smallpox, measless, influenza
and other pests unknown in the country.
Hernán Cortés and Francisco de Pizarro were left
with the desire to conquer Mexico and Peru,
because they lacked work permits.
Pedro de Alvarado, bounced in Guatemala
and Pedro de Valdivia in Chile
because neither of them had a certificate of good conduct.
The Mayflower Pilgrims were returned to the sea,
since the coast in Massachusetts did no have
any open immigration quotas.

La historia que pudo ser.
Eduardo Galeano[10]

[11] In this glossary for understanding immigation from the perspctive of the cross, another concept that needs to be unveiled of its power semantics is the dual concept of discoverer and civilizer. Europeans did not discover America, they stole it by force and genocide and dehumanized its original inhabitants, the true discoverers of this continent which they had named, Abya Yala.[11] Not only did the European strip the original peoples of their lands but they also (despite the efforts of a handful of true prophets) judicially, theologically and ontologically declared them to be half human and half beast. We had to wait until 1537 Pope Bull “Sublimis Deus” for Paul III to declare Native American’s humanity. With the right interpretive password it is not hard to see how the mislabeled dicovery was in fact part of the biggest imperialistic crusade that humanity has ever seen. Around the time that the Columbus and others were unlawfully crossing the borders of this continent and plundering it, Spain had been applying deportation laws in its local territories against Muslims and Jews (arguably in order to get rid of competitors in the new markets).[12] Simultaneously, across the Atlantic, they were declaring the newfound lands as terra nullius, that is, land of nobody.

[12] Again, the power semantics are very convenient. From the arrival of the Europeans and up to 1798 (and someties during part of the 19th century), what is now known as the United States of America, was then known as Columbia, as the former national anthem “Hail, Columbia” testifies. Notice how this latinate deletes Abya Yala and replace it with Columbia and eventually with USA. With the act of renaming it, it veils the violent and criminal past upon which the new country was founded (it also veils the rightful and legal claims of the original inhabitants who are still among us today). One hundred years later, in 1892, Francis Bellamy, promoted the fourth centenial of Columbus in a children’s magazine with the Roman salute and the pledge “under God.”

[14] This was not a terra nullius, a land of nobody, discovered and civilized by the Europeans. This was Amoxtlapan, “a land of books,”[13] as is called in the Náhuatl language. Despite what many historians (or propagandists) have tried to make us believe, the truth is that when Europeans got to know the great civilizations that had emerged on these lands, they were not terrified but at awe, speechless, before the Mesoamerican civilization. This was, after all, a foundational ancient culture alongside six more from the Andes, Nigeria, Mesopotamia, Egypt, China and India,[14] (the real one from Asia, not the fake one from America).

[15] By the time of the arrival of the Europeans, Mesoamericans had created the most productive agricultural technique ever known: the chinampa. The 750 square meters floating islet, always humid and rich in humus, produced from 4 to 7 harvests yearly, that is, three thousand kilograms of grain.[15]

[16] The use of the term “Hispanics” to refer to the descendants of those great Mesoamerican civilizations that predated the arrival of the Hispanics (that is, from Hispania, España, Spain!) is another example of the veiling of reality through power semantics. The term goes back to Richard Nixon’s thirst for votes; it attempted to homogenize immigrants from 21 countries of origin into a single oppressive name: “Hispanics.” This renaming effects a reversal in the judicial nomenclature of immigrant versus native so that now the native is called immigrant and the immigrant native. But the theoogian of the cross must call the thing what it is.

3. Pilgrims, Pioneers, Entrepeneurs, Settlers, Civilizers, Soujourners

[17] Donald Trump is for real but not for right.[16]

Cornel West

[18] In the same playful but prophetically serious style of Cornel West, quoted above, I would like to ask Brother West about the semantics of “real.” Does he mean that Trump is a real mortal being, or that he is a “real-royalty” king (from the Spanish “realeza” meaning “royal”), is he a latecomer to Abya Yala, is he a “trump-eter,” who he is?

[19] Northern Europeans who emigrated to Abya Yala quoted the Bible to legitimize their land grabbing: they interpreted and justfied their experience of immigration as their exodus, their war against cananites, their redemption of the Prodigal Son, etc. However, the comedic rendition of those pilgrim narratives by comedian Jon Stewart’s help us unveil them o reveal the truth underneath them. He says, in jest: “I celebrated Thanksgiving in an old-fashioned way. I invited everyone in my neighborhood to my house, we had an enormous feast, and then I killed them and took their land.”[17] This is a real-listic rendition of history.

[20] What happened “for real” in the first “thanksgiving: was that these first European immigrants in North America had become so weak and vulnerable that they could not have survived without some kind of welfare from the local authorities. Osteologists, who analyse bones, have disclosed information about this period: their sex, race, age, if they were left-handed, if they exercised, rode a horse, etc. And scientists also reported that they ate rodents, leather, horses… with the exception of a 16-year-old boy who ate wheat. Apparently, he was a late comer. But the myth of discovery and civilzation could not be built on such realistic narrative, it had to be veiled with a more appropriate rhetoric.

[21] France came out with the narrative of its Mision Civilisatrice to bless the taking over other lands. England cooked the White Man’s Burden to legitimize the colonization of parts of Africa. The Thirteen Colonies broke with England so that they could expand the rigid and frigid geographical borders established by the crown. But in doing so they did not leave their myths behind, they recontextualized them and turned them into a sacropolitical doctrine, the doctrine of the Manifest Destiny.

[22] The Thirteen Colonies morphed into Columbia, then into the United States of America and now in a semantic act of colonization, into “America.” From that follows the “identity theft” of the rest of the American countries, and the semantic trick to name “real reality.” This renaming is covered by layers of stories and narratives that give it an aura of facticity. Think, for instance, of the Plymouth Pilgrims’ story, it is a justification of North European immigration at the expense of reducing the other to nothingness. This became explicit when in 1835 Alexis de Tocqueville articulated the concept of American exceptionalism, which has been repeated ad nauseam by all presidents, including the current one, President Obama. What is missing in these narratives, and what is veiled in the hostility against new waves of immigrants, is the recollection of the hundreds of acts of interventionisms (carried out directly or indirectly by the U.S. military and paramilitary forces) that have created the dire conditions that push children and adults to leave their countries.

[23] The hostile anti-Mexican speech of Donald Trump, republican pre-candidate for the presidency of the United States, is only the certification that the days of the Pilgrims’ narrative are numbered. Currently USA is 63% White, 17% Latin@, 12% African American and 12% Asian. According to the Pew Institute, by 2042 Euro-Americans will be a minority, and by 2060 one out of three people in the USA will be Latin@. In the meantime, the USA penitentiary system profits from undocumented newcomers, including children who, under the current legal system, can be sentenced for life. Things must be called what they are for real.

4. Reservationists

[24] By declaring the territory terra nullius, or land of nobody, 17th century Europeans not only grabbed the land of the people who have been living in North Abya Yala for ages; they also deprived its inhabitants of their humanness. Overnight, they became “Indians,” “Native Americans,” “Red Skins,” and so on. By fencing them into “reservations” (read: concentration camps), Europeans invisibilized, or veiled, Native Americans and therefore, did not have to apply the term “immigrants” to them.

[25] Native Americans were not Indians, that is, from Asian India. This socio-political semantic construction was intentionally coined to undermine their own self true to their own land. To add insult to injury, social institutions such as the church and the school came with the boarding schools to uproot their children and assimilate them into the European mindset. According to this narrative, Native Americans will never come of age as it is apparent in the name of Lone Ranger’s companion: “Tonto,” (which is the Spanish word for dumb or stupid).

[26] The formula was repeated in the 19th century when 100,000 Mexican people were crossed by the US border, expropriating 51% of Mexican geographical being. (That is, they did not cross the border; the border crossed them!). From that follows that Native Americans could not continue in an apartheid system, which dehumanized them. Native Mexicans as well cannot be illegals in Abya Yala, their native country. Referring to them as “tribes” rather than as nations is another exercise in semantic power that legitimizes the expropriation of their lands and the exploitation of their labor.

[27] As North American citizens, Puerto Ricans were left out of the system at the psychological and cultural levels. However, Euro-North Americans’ psychological wall kept dismissing non-Europeans through the internalization of fear and paranoia. What remains is sickness, which in Hebrew language means a lack of project.

[28] It is not a coincidence that Arizona, which holds the largest number of Native American nations in the U.S., has banned Latino studies. The fact that the largest Native American language in USA now is Zapoteco from Oaxaca, Mexico, continues shaking the semantics of the term “immigrant,” and opening a tear in its veil. The time has come to face it. Hundreds of children from Southern ancient civilizations skip Spanish: they go straight from their native Abya Yala language (such as Aymara, Quechua, Nahualt, and others) into English. No problem at all. Spanish and English are not native to this land, they are immigrants. USA is the only country in the world that promotes monolingualism.

[29] As long as the royal (“real”) immigrants don’t examine their power semantics, the Mexican mouse Speedy González will keep on making fun of the gringo cat Silvester by converting the border into a revolving door.

5. Immigrants:

[30] The term immigrant emerged alongside the Industrial Revolution, but US semantics married “immigrants” to “Ellis Island,” namely, with European immigration.[18] During the 19th and 20th centuries Europe exported 55 million people whose main destiny, since 1492 has been the American continent. Hunger played a central role in becoming immigrants. To name one example, during 1870-1930 Norway expelled half of its population counting their children, as it should be.[19]

[31] It must not be forgotten that up until the US civil war it was a given that citizenship was exclusive for white folks. Once the massacre was over, African Americans and Chinese were also eligible. However, it was not until 1868, with the 14th amendment of the Constitution that citizenship was granted on the basis of Jus solis, or soil right, meaning that one can obtain it by the mere fact of being born in US soil. Between lines lies the racialization of the amendment: non-whites could not get citizenship via Jus sanguinis, or blood right, they were simply ineligible. The exception, so far, is Cuba!

[32] The amendment also had a class component because white European Southerners for decades did not qualify either, like the current P.I.G.S.: Portugal, Italy, Greece and Spain.[20]

[33] De iure, out of right, as long as one child is born in US soil their citizenship comes automatically. De facto, in fact the semantics remains intact, but politics is shifting. With the sad example of the Dominican Republic that is sending back Hatians who were born after 1929, the wealthy countries are going back to the racist and classist blood right slamming the door to Jesus himself who comes to them in disguise in the form of immigrant children (Rev 3:20).

[34] If the word “immigrant” has been monopolized and racialized, the jus solis has been used to inferiorize children and women. Imperial semantics created the term “anchor baby” in the 1980s to name Vietnamese refugees. Later on it was applied to stigmatize African-American mothers by arguing that they used their children as “objects” of revenue. Ronald Reagan went as far as naming them “Welfare Queens.”

[35] Applied to undocumented mothers, “anchor baby” means that instead of the mother nurturing her baby, the child is the passport to the “horn of abundance.” Some Euro-American paranoiacs and other assimilated sisters and brothers see “anchor babies” everywhere. This narrative dismisses children and women by “using” and “instrumentalizing” them as scapegoats.

[36] Tennessee State representative Curry Todd animalized them on November 2010: “[Latina pregnant women] multiply like rats.” At the end of August 2015, pre-candidate to the presidency and current governor of New Jersey, Chris Christie, made a promise to the country in case he arrives at the White House: he will go after undocumented people like FedEx tracks packages. David Cameron, England Prime Minister, name immigrants “swarms.” England has no constitution and no memory to realize that it holds the record of the most invaded countries in history.

[37] Members of Congress cannot seem to endure the fact that the white population of the US and Europe is not aging, it is already old. Immigrants are the ones who are revitalizing the country. In the USA the median age of women are the following: Euro-American, 41, Asian, 35, African-American, 32, Latinas, 25. Perhaps is it not blue blood but better yet, young blood.

6. Aliens:

[38] “Have respect not for the law
but for what is right.”[21]

Henry David Thoreau

[39] “There are not illegal persons,” declared the International Convention on Rights Protection of All Immigrant Workers and their Families. That was signed on December 18, 1990 in the UN building in New York. International workers have the right of being assisted by their consulates, of being in a room separate from prisoners, of not being deported, of not being kept deprived of their freedom for a long period of time.

[40] The terms “illegality” and “undocumentedness” were fabricated to take advantage of some sisters and brothers. The idea of “Alien” was applied to African slaves in the US and later extended to Mexicans, Chinese, Japanese and Filipinos.[22] Slave bodies were alien to themselves; they were the master’s private property. That is why suicide and abortion were a no-no practice. It was not a moral issue but an economic matter. For instance in the mid 19th century, after the USA took from Mexico a portion of its territory the equivalent of the size of Argentina, abortion was banned to repopulate the country.

[41] Slaves were considered property and still more, they were addressed as animals. By denying their humanity, slave trade was veiled as perfectly legal.[23]Alongside with cattle stood chattels, labor workers without the status of humans.

[42] On the other hand, whites who employed themselves to pay the transatlantic ticket had to serve seven years regardless of being able to pay the debt earlier. Whites enrolled into the institution of “indenture,” or literally, to stick the diente or tooth into their flesh. One out of three died before the contract expired. Whites were given land at the frontier with Native Americans. The original inhabitants were granted souls, but souls, which will never come of age, since Native Americans remained “in-fants,” meaning in Latin voice-less. Their right to speak, to say their word was stolen.

[43] For a century and a half the USA – Mexico border was open since Mexicans replaced the African agricultural labor. What took place was a circular immigration with no access to USA citizenship. According to the Pew Hispanic Center, during 2005-2010 there existed the “death point,” where 1.4 million Mexicans entered the USA and the same number simultaneously left the country.

[44] For more than 20 years (1942-64) around five million Mexicans made of the US the most profitable agricultural system in the world. But still, Mexicans were treated worst than animals by practices such as fumigating them directly with DDT and gasoline. Children broke their backs at an early age in the fields. It was until the end of the “Bracero Program” or the meanial workers that the “illegal” alien came to stage, since the mind is prerrogative of the whites.[24]

[45] With this background, it is expected for immigrant children to be named retainees, namely, prisoners of war. This has to do with the criminalization of non-European or wealthy immigrants. In other words: Southern immigrants –children included- are to be combated.

7. Refugees

[46] “I cried because I didn’t have shoes,
Until I saw a child without feet.”

[47] In 1951 the United Nations stated that a refugee is a human being who “owing to well-founded fear of persecution for reasons of race, religion, nationality, membership or a particular social group or political opinions, is outside the country of his (sic) nationality and is unable or, owing to such fear, is unwilling to avail himself (sic) of the protection of that country.”

[48] So far so good, nevertheless, the semantics of the centers of power have used this term as an ideological mechanism to undermine the concept of immigration. Their “think tanks” keep adding new types of refugees with the agenda of establishing who comes and who stays out.

[49] According to this tendentious way of classifying refugees, we have the following groups:

[50] Political Refugees, i.e., people whose life is in danger. Economic Refugees, people who were forced to leave searching for a better quality of life. Golden Refugees, the almighty Southern elites who are looking for a Northern country for the sake of their gold. Brain Drain Refugees, there are eight million in the world and at least one million of scientist and university professionals living in the USA but being educated in Latin America, 11,000 of them holding Ph.D. degrees from Mexico. Religious Refugees, folks who couldn’t endure religious persecutions. Ideological Refugees, those, with economic means, who internalized public image oppression of not wanting to be themselves and instead chose to mimic the American way of life. Refugees Type T, victims of people-trafficking. Refugees Type U, or victims of domestic violence.

[51] Now, with the exception of ideological and golden refugees, Puerto Ricans make the distinction between folks who had to leave and those who were able to stay. Aren’t those refugee categories artificial? Isn’t world immigration a direct result of the economic asymmetry imposed by the almighty banks and corporations? How is it that there’s no such thing as Hunger Refugees, since hunger is the most terrifying weapon of mass destruction?

[52] Regarding the thousands of children immigrants to the USA from Latin America, why is it so hard to apply the Refugee status to them, and if it does apply to them, why are they being deported? Children are running away from gangs which originated in the USA and were exported to Central America. Children are escaping chaos which originated in June 2009 in the Honduras coup d’état, blessed by Hillary Clinton.[25]Aren’t the USA and Northern Europe experiencing the boomerang effect by supporting, to say the least, anti-democratic Southern regimes, fraudulent elections, impunity, you name it?

[53] Again, who decides who is a refugee or an immigrant, who decides who may live and who must be killed?

[54] Aylan Kurdi, his brother and Mother died in a Turkish beach after his Father paid $5,000 to the precarious boat. His father could have paid the same amount for the four Kurdis by traveling by plane, if only Canada had accepted his application as refugees!

The theologian of the cross must name the thing what it is.

8. Criminals

[55] “This was the guilt of your sister Sodom:
she and her daughters had pride,
excess of food and prosperous ease,
but did not aid the poor and needy.” (Ez 16:49)

[56] The semantics of the USA as a nation of immigrants has migrated to the USA as a nation of deportees, a nation like Sodom and Gomorrah.

[57] By the same token, it has equated the meaning of immigrant to criminal. The criminalization of the Caribbean and Latin American immigrants has proven to be a juicy multilayered enterprise for people who hold the keys to the gate. The profitable prison business, the militarization of society, the arms race, the trafficking with drugs and human bodies including thousands of children are but some of the ramifications of shifting immigration semantics from being a human right to being a human crime.

[58] First of all, to enter a country without a visa is not a felony crime but a civil violation. This does not belong to the legal realm but to the political sphere, which is taken into tow by the market and its thirst for slave labor. Second, how is it that employers of undocumented persons can get away with not being criminalized? Since the 1952 “Texas Proviso” law, it is perfectly legal to exploit the paperless immigrants. In 1986 and lately some sanctions to the employers have been added in paper but never executed in everyday reality. Undocumented 12-year-old children can legally break their backs in the agricultural fields and become part of the 20% of agricultural national child laborers.

[59] Third, what the legal system has done is criminalize solidarity and mercy. US citizens of good will are prevented from sheltering, transporting, leasing a house, marrying, feeding and even praying for an immigrant. Any police can perform as an immigration agent to check their status and arrest them.

[60] Fourth, due to powerful migrant activism the US government is considering an Immigration Reform, which, obviously, enhances the amnesty element, read, criminal component. In 1986 three million obtained “forgiveness” and from 1994 to 2000 six more amnesties were granted to Nicaraguans, Guatemalans, Salvadorians, Haitians, namely, “political refugees.” The “terms” of current Immigration Reform proposal means a 13-year winding and expensive road to citizenship where one third of applicants will be deported. Eligible people will get a temporary status for ten years. The militarization of the border will continue. The largest massive deportation in history will keep its pace. The lucky ones who arrive at the promise land will have to pay the price by accepting their crime and being considered second-class immigrants.

Last but not least, the semantics that criminalizes Latin@ immigrants for some folks means “in gold we trust.” 8% of prisons get 49% of undocumented immigrants. The capture of an undocumented head costs $122. Undocumented children can very well become part of the more than 100,000 US imprisoned children.

[61] The neoliberalist digestive systems that eat human beings, with its forked tongue, criminalize hunger immigrants and simultaneously glorify weapons. To buy a weapon is not a problem; to buy medicine is a mess. The Río Grande, according to USA semantics, the Río Bravo, in Mexican nomenclature, is now named the Iron River, given the thousands of weapons that travel north to south without any passport. In the USA – Mexican border alone there are 17,000 armories. The recipients are also children already involved in the organized crime or in the militia.

[62] Mitt Romney, ex-candidate to the presidency of the US was particularly hostile towards Mexicans and Southern immigration in general. He opposed any kind of amnesty and swore to make the undocumented lives miserable so they would deport themselves. According to jus solis semantics, Mitt was technically Mexican since his father George was born in Dublán Colony, from the Galeana district in Chihuahua, Mexico. Furthermore, from the jus sanguinis point of view, his grandfather Miles, was an “illegal alien” in Mexico in the 1870s together with his five wives and children.

[63] Needless to say, Romney’s semantics privileged the Ku Klux Klan’s gratuitous narrative: “keep America American” with a slight swing: “Keep America America.” Founded in 1866 as a reaction of the Secession War, the KKK, with the Christian cross up front killed Blacks, homosexuals, Jews and Immigrants.

Contrary to Romney’s xenophopic political campaign, Barack Obama promised to accomplish an immigration reform. Nonetheless, Obama’s short memory broke all the records by becoming the “Deporter in Chief” including thousands of children.

[64] Paperless Latin@s have been demonized but nothing is further from the truth. Workers without papers are the most courageous human beings who, by sending money to our countries of origin keep our humanity and economy afloat. What is so scary is that lately the undocumented money is the first source of revenue for Mexico, but Mexican authorities remain silent before the criminalization of immigrants.

9. Dreamers

[65] The acronym for the Development, Relief and Education for Alien Minors Act is the 2012 President Obama political initiative to address the 1.8 million people in this category who came to the USA during their childhood. Obama’s proselytizing of the Latino vote was upfront for his re-election.

[66] This program works through DACA, that is, Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals. This measurement issues work permits and defers deportation proceedings against undocumented residents who are no older than 30 and came to the US when they were younger than 16. One of the outcomes, was to stop the deportation of 580,000.

[67] The semantics of the center came out with another immigrant category, which revolves around the American Dream.[26] The same dream led the CIA and the US State Department to grab 14,048 children from Cuba in the 1960s to save them from red communism. The “Peter Pan Operation” was accomplished. What is still pending is the eradication of the external debt, xenophobia, racism, hunger, war, unemployment, which cause children to leave their countries.

[68] The American Dream is feasible only for 5% of the USA population. Latin@ Dreamers have to face the nightmare of the “trickle down” heresy: the more wealthy people are, the more wealth will go down to society. With that semantics veiling the rich not only are exempt from committing the crime of not paying taxes (instead they get tax deductions); they also justify that a CEO in this country earns 475 times more than his/her employees. US has the 93rd place in the world in terms of equality. Two out of three senators and half of the House of Representatives are millionaires, while one out of six people in the US live in poverty.[27]

10. Transmigrants

[69] In Spanish the word migrant is enough to imply someone who departed within or beyond the country limits, or even further to other country borders. However, in our migration glossary we add the transmigrant category. At this point let’s remember that 60% of migrants remain in their country of origin.

[70] Since Mexico is the point of entry of Southern countries to the US, the Aztec country is a place of transit, departure, destiny and return of many immigrants. But it is also a deporting country; Mexico is pure hell for Central American transmigrants.[28] How do you otherwise explain the sudden stop of massive infant immigration to the US where in 2014 alone 60,000 unaccompanied children arrived? Mexico not only deported immigrants in transit but also sealed the border with Guatemala. Those were the days when Mexico was an oasis for immigrants, like when president Lázaro Cárdenas welcomed unaccompanied children from Spain.

[71] To block transmigrants US semantics keeps legitimating the wall, even though more than 40% of 11.5 million of undocumented people arrived by plane. Drones will patrol above Mexican soil sending high-resolution images. MAD, minuteman American defense, with at least 1,000 Latino members, will keep alive the semantics of immigrants as criminals. The persecution already takes place everywhere including churches: Law-Wall, Wall-Street prevails.

[72] From the Northern semantics the wall means nothing for US immigrants. A few years ago they were requested to show just a driver’s license to cross the Mexican border. Currently they need a passport, but not a visa. Actually Mexico is the home of 25% of US immigrants, and 15% of the inhabitants of the Occupied West Bank is the home of US citizens.

Semantics Matters: Our Christian Baptism

[73] “In Jesus Christ there is no longer Jew or Greek.”Galatians 3:28

[74] The oldest Christian baptismal formula (Ga 3:26-28) is bold: it means the end of war religions and immigrant criminalization. It’s a permanent reminder that God created the world (Psalm 24) but the feudal lords, the rulers, the royalty, the bankers, the corporations, the puppet states, created the borders.

[75] Who holds semantics to believe to have the exclusive right to name reality? Is it by chance that the massive children and adult Mediterranean immigrants are from Muslim countries, where Christian countries are sponsoring a dozen of wars?

[76] Instead of Latin@ immigrants being a threat to the US isn’t the opposite true? 50.7 million Latin@s in the US form a country within a country, which, in itself would be the 14th largest world economy with a purchasing power of over one trillion dollars.

[77] In the Kingdom of God semantics there are no geographical borders, there are no first and second-class citizens. In the Reign of God, it’s a sacramental action to welcome the immigrant, particularly the least of them (Mt 25:31-46).

[78] And the most meaningful: Greeks don’t have to become Jews (Acts 15). Jewishness is fine; samaritanism is also fine (Lk 10:25-37). Judaism is all right, the Syrophoenician woman’s religion is all right as well.

[79] Let’s call things what they are, and reveal how things are and how God intends them to be.


[1] Amy Goodman – Denis Moynihan, “The Migrant Crisis: Arms that Welcome and Arms that Kill” in TrueDig, (Sept. 9, 2015).

[2] Martin Luther, “Heidelberg Disputation # 21, in Book of Concord, (Theodore G. Tapper, Minneapolis: Fortress Press, 1989).

[3] Ronald Reagan’s expression after bombarding the country of Granada, the motherland of Malcolm X’s mother. New York Times, November 4, 1983.

[4] Charles Hirschman – Elizabeth Mogford, “Immigration and the American Industrial Revolution From 1880 to 1920” in accessed 12-10-15.
[5] Marcela Torres Rezende, A alimentaçao como objeto histórico complexo: relaçoes entre comidas e sociedades, in “Estudios Históricos”, Río de Janeiro, No. 33, 2004.


[7] (Accessed 12/10/2015).

[8] (Acessed 12/10/2015).

[9] In 1969 the powerful woman stated: “Palestinians simply don’t exist,”

[10] (Accessed 12-11-15).

[11] Eliseo Pérez-Álvarez, Abya Yala; discursos desde la América des-norteada, (Mexico, D.F.: El Faro et al, 2010).

[12] The New Yorker Jan 16, 2012.

[13] Eliseo Pérez-Álvarez, Abya Yala; discursos desde la América des-norteada, (Mexico, D.F.: El Faro et al, 2010), Chapter 2.

[14] Carrasco, David. Religions of Mesoamerica: Cosmovisions and Ceremonial Centers, New York: Harper & Row, 1990.

[15] Eliseo Pérez-Álvarez, “La Milpa from Abya Yala: An Epistemological Rupture in the Context of Oikos, i.e., Economy, Ecology and Ecumenism” in a forthcoming book from the World Council of Churches.

[16] (Accessed 12/18/15).

[17] (Accessed 12/10/2015).

[18] Aviva Chomsky, Undocumented: How Immigration Became Illegal, (Boston: Beacon Press), 2014.


[20] Aviva Chomsky, Undocumented: How Immigration Became Illegal, (Boston: Beacon Press), 2014.

[21] A common adaptation from Thoreau’s Civil Disobedience.

[22] “The right to stay home” David Bacon, Myers, Ched – Matthew Colwell, Our God is Undocumented: Biblical Faith and Immigrant Justice, (Maryknoll, NY: Orbis, 2012).

[23]Edward Long, History of Jamaica, 1774.

[24]Tracie McMillan, “The American way of eating.”

[25]Roberto Quesada “Nunca entres por Miami.”

[26]Eliseo Pérez-Álvarez, “No vine por el sueño Americano; vine debido a lo que la pesadilla estadounidense ha ocasionado en mi país: entrevista a Elvira Arellano”, www., 6/15/14.

[27] (accessed 12-11-15)

[28]Alejandro Hernández, Amarás a Dios sobre todas las cosas, Mexico, D.F.: TusQuets, 2013.

Eliseo Pérez-Álvarez

Eliseo Pérez-Álvarez is an Adjunct Professor of the Lutheran Seminary Program in the Southwest and the Seminario Evangélico de Puerto Rico and ELCA pastor from the Caribbean Synod. He considers himself Mexichicanorrican.