With a light mist in the air and weather forecasters and clouds both threatening far worse, we set off.
It was not a traditional festive Palm Sunday processional; we had palms but no Jesus on a donkey and no hosannas were sung. Instead, in a crowded parking lot we set off with a simple banner and a cross – a cross hand-made by an unauthorized immigrant who loves Jesus.
I announced that volunteers were welcome to take up the cross and lead the pilgrimage. Without hesitation, four members of one family promptly approached the cross and carried it as though it were a coffin of a departed beloved. As we walked I learned that they carried it in honor of a DEPORTED beloved.
The matriarch of the family, with desperation in her voice, told me that her 22 year old son had been deported just eight months ago. Her son worked as a cook at the Gainesville IHOP.
One night after work her son was a passenger in a car. The police pulled the car over and charged the driver with a misdemeanor. Why did the police officer have to ask the passenger for identification? What grounds were given? What was the probable cause? His mother did not know the answer to such matters of law and justice. All she knew was her son had been detained and deported.
The tragedy of this deportation was that her son was brought here as a child. He committed no crime. He was working to support his family. And he was in the middle of a multi-phase surgical procedure to deal with serious problems related to his eyes and nose. Now he would never be able to complete the surgery because his deportation came with a ten-year ban from the United States and he cannot afford it in Mexico because he is uninsured and unemployed.
The petite mother who reminded me of so many of the hospitable indigenous women I have befriended in Guatemala held out hope that I could help her get her son back to the United States, the home of his upbringing, the place where his family resides, and the place where his doctors wait to complete his surgery.
What could I tell her? What would you have told her?
Tomorrow I continue to pray with my feet.