From Our Associate Pastor
We are in the midst of the National Eucharistic Revival that seeks to restore our belief in the Real Presence of Christ in the Eucharist. But let us not forget that the Church also teaches that we, members of the Church, are parts of the Mystical Body of Christ. With that in mind, I’d like to share a story of one of our members whom we often don’t see or recognize: an undocumented migrant. – Fr. Sam Nasada, OFM
Could you briefly share your experience coming to this country?
I was born in Mexico but I came to the U.S. with my parents. My parents came first to the U.S. on a visitor visa, when I was a small kid. A family friend in California helped my parents find summer jobs while they visited the U.S. They overstayed their visas because American dollars went a long way in Mexico. Later, my mother was diagnosed with cancer, but was cured after receiving treatment in the U.S. When my parents got the news that my mother was cancer-free, they decided that we could not be separated anymore. We did everything we could to follow the rules to enter and live in the U.S., but it was extremely difficult for anyone to get an American visa. My parents made the gut-wrenching decision to find an alternate route for us to live with them in the U.S. When we left Mexico for the U.S., it hurt me to leave extended family and my childhood friends behind, but I always imagined going back. I’ve never gone back, and I lost touch with my childhood friends.
What is your immigration status right now? How did it create some challenges in your life?
I’m undocumented. Over the years, we’ve consulted several attorneys, but no help is available. For me, the biggest challenge of being undocumented is being at the wrong place at the wrong time = getting stopped, or being approached by a Customs and Border Patrol (CBP) officer, and getting detained. God only knows what would happen then. Another very difficult challenge of being undocumented has been people doubting my good intentions, and having people misunderstand me and see me as someone that I’m not. After a while, it gets to you why you have to convince people all the time; it truly bugs me!!!
What do you hope will happen to your status in the future?
I dream of becoming a U.S. citizen, marrying, and raising a family. I would like to get a great job like becoming a teacher, social worker, or nurse, like some of my friends, to give back to my community. Whenever I think about how my life would change if I had a different immigration status, a few things come to mind. First, I would like to have a job where I could impact “more people positively.” Second, I would love to travel. Third, I would love to practice more self-care behaviors (including more intentional time to exercise, eating better, and spending time with friends).
What would you like your fellow parishioners at Mission San Luis Rey to know about the situation you and many others like you are experiencing?
I would like our fellow parishioners to know that being undocumented does not make you a bad person. Being undocumented does not mean that we want to hurt the U.S. economy or the American way of life. At the same time, I would ask everyone to hear our stories. Undocumented people are hurting in many ways. For me, being undocumented is almost as if a big part of me is sleeping inside. It’s as if a piece of me is waiting to come to life. I believe all of us who are undocumented feel this way. In short, help us and give us a chance to become fully human. I’m not asking for what some people call a handout. I’m asking for a chance. I don’t have all the answers about how to create an immigration plan, but I believe we can agree on something that is truly noble. All in all, I believe in the goodness of people. And, I believe that God moves us to be compassionate.
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