(An adaptation by Anton Flores-Maisonet of “The Way of the Cross of the Migrant Jesus,” by Gioacchino Campese, CS, Centro de Pastoral Migratoria Scalabrini.)
FIRST STATION: Jose and Maria Flee to Georgia
Reflection: Jose and Maria, like most unauthorized immigrants in the United States, did not travel here as tourists. The structural violence of poverty that is propped up by oligarchies, unjust trade policies, the militarization of the hemisphere, a failing drug war, unrepentant racism, and unbridled materialism is the primary force behind the exodus of millions. Over the past decades and until recently, Georgia had become a destination of choice for many seeking to escape desperation and find work, albeit often times in less than dignified work conditions.
Prayer: Beloved Jesus, who in the company of the first migrant Maria and Jose learned the trials of migration in your exile from Egypt, we pray for the countless unauthorized migrants, refugees, and displaced children who are so much like you. May their parents find work, food, and shelter. May they be received everywhere with love, acceptance, and welcome. May all those who come from afar find in us brothers and sisters who love them, in the same way that you do. Lord Jesus, free them from all spiritual and bodily danger. We ask this through Christ our Lord. Amen.
SECOND STATION: Jose is Tempted by the American Dream
Reflection: Migrants also face temptations that put themselves and their families in danger, both during their journeys and after they reach their destinations. There are many problems and risks that they face: robberies, accidents, violence, exploitation, corruption, harsh weather, and lack of understanding and hospitality. In these conditions it is easy to succumb to frustration, desperation, or depression, all of which can lead to drug addiction or alcoholism. Another temptation is the obsessive search at all costs for money and success, which makes many migrants forget their families, their origins and their cultural values.
Prayer: Holy God, grant all of us the gift of strength so we might overcome the earthly temptations of wealth and success, and the bitterness and desperation that impede our pilgrimage toward your Reign. Guide all people, especially the migrants, in the ways of hope and true human values. We ask you this through Christ, our Lord. Amen.
THIRD STATION: Jose Purchases an Automobile
Reflection: In a country that is still overly dependent upon automobiles as the primary mode of transportation, most unauthorized immigrants must confront a dilemma – the need for transportation in a land that denies them access to a driver’s license. In an effort to make Georgia inhospitable, the legislature in 2008 succumbed to fear-laden xenophobia and eroded all of our civil liberties by making repeated driving without a driver’s license (or with a suspended one) a felony. But Jose must work and to live as a family without an automobile in Georgia, is next to impossible.
Prayer: Migrant God of all peoples, who through Jesus made yourself a pilgrim wandering from town to town by foot and via the transportation of the day, help us to identify with those who suffer, those who are discriminated against and criminalized by society for doing something we all do too much of – driving. Help us to build a new world in which automobiles are a thing of the past but where the human right to migrate and move freely is upheld. We ask you this through Christ our Lord. Amen.
FOURTH STATION: Maria Is Betrayed by her Employer
Reflection: Desperation leads unauthorized immigrants to our desert. On the other side of the wall that says “Do not trespass” are a plethora of signs proclaiming, “Now hiring”. However, once an immigrant crosses the river, she is no longer a person with a story, a family, and an identity; she is now a dehumanized “wetback”. Since dehumanization is the precursor to violence, the migrant is now susceptible to all manners of discrimination and exploitation, including at the hands of one’s one employers. Low wages and even outright wage theft is common practice waged against a group of hard-working laborers with little legal protections.
Prayer: Lord Jesus, who felt firsthand the pain of betrayal by one of your own, guide the betrayed on the path of forgiveness and accompany all those who betray others on the path of conversion and truth. Help us to recover and renew our collective memories and to transform our hearts that we might make room in them for compassion and solidarity. We ask you this through Christ our Lord. Amen.
FIFTH STATION: Jose Prays at a Roadblock
Reflection: With his wife now unemployed, Jose’s $8 per hour does not go very far. On his way home from a hard day’s work in a local poultry plant, he is almost home when Jose spots a roadblock just one block from his home. Driving unlicenseable, Jose knows what awaits him – the humiliation of arrest, the impoundment of his vehicle, a fine likely over $1,000, and possibly a transfer to Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) for deportation proceedings. Jose’s heart is pounding and his hands are sweating as he prays to God, “Mi Diosito, if it is possible, let this cup pass from me, primero Dios.”
Prayer: God of justice, it is not your will that families be separated via unjust arrests and deportations. And yet, this bitter cup is drunk from every day by hundreds of immigrants. Wake us up from our slumber! We have deserted you every time we desert the migrant who faces unjust arrest. Help us to stay alert and keep watch against injustice. We ask you this through Christ our Lord. Amen.
SIXTH STATION: Jose Is Arrested
Reflection: The police exist to serve and protect. Yes, they are enforcers of the law but every human being has a moral conscience that is greater than any law. Therefore, officers of the law must refuse to enforce any unjust law and, furthermore, must not use the rule of law to legitimize the inhumane and unjust treatment of another fellow human being. When law enforcement officials engage in racial profiling, conduct targeted roadblocks in immigrant communities, or refuse to assist immigrant victims’ of violent crimes, this is a betrayal of both their oath and their conscience.
Prayer: Lord Jesus, unauthorized immigrants live in precarious situations. They live in the shadows of our society due to oppressive immigration laws. The shadows may protect them from la migra but it does not protect them from those who would prey on their vulnerability. Help our law enforcement officials discern what is good and right in Your eyes and may they unwaveringly commit themselves to serving and protecting the most marginalized among us. We ask you this through Christ our Lord. Amen.
SEVENTH STATION: Jose Is Interrogated by Jail Guards
Reflection: Now the interrogators were looking for ways to transfer Jose to ICE for deportation. Afraid he would destroy this nation with his “unwillingness” to learn the language and assimilate, the chief interrogator stood up and said, “Hey amigo, have you no answer? Are you an “illegal”?” But Jose was silent for there was no interpreter.
Prayer: Good and gracious God, free us from the temptation of turning migrants into scapegoats in our communities, into the object of our accusations and political campaigns, or into mere statistics. Give us a spirit of compassion so that we may understand the suffering of these people who have to leave behind their homelands and families in search of a better future. We ask you this through Christ our Lord. Amen.
EIGHTH STATION: Jose Is Detained for ICE
Reflection: What began as just another journey home to his family after a long day’s work, is now a via dolorosa of forced detention, deportation, and separation from family, friends, and work. After being arrested, Jose’s fingerprints, one of the unique markings that God gives to each human being, is now utilized by the promulgators of fear to determine whether or not Jose has a “right” to remain united with his family in this land we call the United States.
Prayer: Liberator God who sets the captives free, we pray for those who govern our societies whose decisions affect our communities. Enkindle in them a spirit of justice so that our laws grant everyone, especially migrants, the rights and dignity that all human beings deserve. May our society protect above all the lives of the poor and the insignificant. We ask you this through Christ our Lord. Amen.
NINTH STATION: Jose Falls under the Weight of the Detention
Reflection: Jose spent a total of three months locked up in three different detention centers. He had no access to legal counsel, no visits with his family, and was treated like a prisoner. With the Atlanta immigration court having a deportation rate of 98.8%, is it really a surprise that so many immigrants fall under the weight of detention and, without legal counsel, sign for “voluntary” departure?
Prayer: God of life, close down these detention centers of death. We remember Roberto Medina and Miguel Hernandez who literally died in CCA detention centers in Georgia and we also pray for the thousands of men who every year face a “little death” to their dignity as they are detained for prolonged periods of time without due process. Please, with Your mighty arm, shut these detention centers down. We ask this of you. Amen.
TENTH STATION: Corrections Corporation of America Helps Carry Jose Away
Reflection: At $122/day, Corrections Corporation of America (CCA) has no qualms about turning people into a commodity. Hidden in remote locations like CCA’s Stewart Detention Center in rural southwest Georgia for an average of 53 days, CCA’s record-breaking profits is being made off of the unjust and unnecessary detainment of “violators” of a broken, civil (not criminal) immigration system.
Prayer: God of mercy, do not allow us to let the migrants to be alone, abandoned, or hopeless. Teach us to act in solidarity, compassion, and a spirit of welcome. Show us how to overcome our selfishness and challenge the greed of prison corporations so that we might accompany our migrant brothers and sisters who walk with us in this world. We ask you this through Christ our Lord. Amen.
ELEVENTH STATION: Jose Is Stripped of His Garments
Reflection: Forced to where color-coded prison uniforms inside Corrections Corporation of America’s immigration detention centers, this hard-working father with no criminal history has become the sacrificial lamb of a country unwilling to renounce its material wealth gained via exploitation of the world’s poor.
Prayer: Compassionate God, we put in your hands the lives of our migrant brothers and sisters, especially those who have suffered the humiliation of being stripped on their journeys. You know the injustices, the exploitation, and the abuses that they have suffered… Heal their bodily and spiritual wounds with the strength of your love. Change our hearts of stone into hearts of flesh… We ask you this through Christ our Lord. Amen.
TWELFTH STATION: Jose is Flown to the Border with 500 Others
Reflection: On one of the most holy days to Mexican Catholics, the Day of the Virgin of Guadalupe, Jose was deported along with approximately 500 other Mexican nationals. He saw this as a sign of hope offered by God and the Virgin. Those of us who are Americans should see it as a shameful act and ask forgiveness for our complicity for the ways we all dehumanize our migrant brothers and sisters.
Prayer: God of truth, grant us new eyes so that we do not to look at our migrant brothers and sisters like criminals and no longer call them “illegal.” In Your eyes only our selfishness, violence, injustice and exploitation are illegal. Give us the necessary courage to be able to conquer our selfishness. We ask you this through Christ our Lord. Amen.
THIRTEENTH STATION: No One Wipes Veronica’s Face.
Reflection: We are reminded that on a daily basis, scores of women are forced to make a processional of shame across the bridge in Brownsville, TX. Filled with anguish and with tears flowing down their faces, who wipes their face? Surely a Veronica has been counted among the innumerable mothers whose hearts literally ache as they turn their backs on this land but never on their children who are left behind.
Prayer: God, as a mother hen gathers her brood under her wings, gather those women who are forcibly separated from their children due to detention and deportation. May your motherly love and compassion be the unbreakable link that unifies all migrants and their families. We ask you this through Christ our Lord. Amen.
FOURTEENTH STATION: Jose Is Deported
Reflection: Let us silently recall all those migrants who have been stripped of their dignity and returned to their homeland in an inhumane manner only meant to kill their human aspirations to be free from oppression and discrimination. Through them and with them Jesus dies again today.
Prayer: God of liberty, console the families of the deported. Forgive us for those who have died seeking to enter our nation through our deserts. Help us to promote dignity, family unity, life and fight against all laws and policies that cause the antithesis of these values. May the cross of your Son be for us a cry of protest against all injustice and a symbol of justice for all. We ask you this through Christ our Lord. Amen.
FIFTEENTH STATION: Jose Returns to the United States
Reflection: The Returned Jose is reunited with his wife and children and with us, reminding us we are all pilgrim and migrant people, even if we do not always recognize this to be true.
Prayer: God of the journey, inspire us now so that we can lovingly and generously accompany migrants on their journeys… Help us to recognize your resurrected Son in our migrant brothers and sisters… We ask you this through Christ our Lord. Amen.