By Fr. Rudolph Juarez
The recent comments by Mr. Donald Trump about immigrants have put the lived experience of immigrants back in the news here in the United States and throughout the world. National and international businesses have disassociated themselves from Mr. Trump because of his comments.
Mr. Trump said that Mexico sends its worst to the United States: rapists, drug dealers, murderers and people with serious problems. How horrible! And lamentable that Mr. Trump has no idea about the reality of immigrants who come to this country — let alone about Mexican immigrants!
I wish that Mr. Trump could meet my “compadre” (I was sponsor for his son’s first Communion). My compadre came to the United States at the ripe old age of 15 after crossing the mountains on foot in search of a brighter future. Suffering hunger and the cold and heat of the desert, now my compadre has a house and a “jalopy” that gets him to work every day. He earns his bread by the sweat of his brow — because my compadre isn’t one of those “types” he says, “on welfare.”
I wish that Mr. Trump could meet my friend “Ramon” — who with his wife and children fled poverty and misery in order to make a better life for his family. Fording rivers, riding the rails and walking until his feet were swollen and bloody — he crossed the border and now finds himself in Iowa with his family — enjoying a bit of beans and an occasional tamale — happy that he has been able to see his oldest daughter attend the university.
I wish that Mr. Trump could meet my “comadre” (I was her husband’s sponsor for confirmation) — who lives in the trailer court with her three boys and niece. She is very Catholic and hardly ever misses Sunday Mass (other than the time company comes by or my compadre has to do mechanical work on the car). She always has those children well-groomed, well-dressed and well-behaved because she knows that poverty does not prevent cleanliness. What a great cook my comadre is, especially when it comes time for a baptismal party or first Communion celebration! If you haven’t shared from her table — you don’t know what you are missing!
I wish that Mr. Trump had the same opportunity that I do, to know and share with the parents of my parish after they have come home for supper after a hard day’s work. And how I wish Mr. Trump had the opportunity to see the eyes of the children shining with happiness and hope because they are securely at home and their future looks bright.
I don’t think that Mr. Trump would want to come to my parish — certainly a man of his stature with billions of dollars at his disposal probably has other things to occupy his time. But if he did come to this corner of the world, he would see that the majority of immigrants whom I know are dedicated to their work, their family and live with a healthy fear of God.
If the debate between Mr. Trump and the reality lived by immigrants were a soccer match — as far as scoring on charity, integrity of character and a healthy fear of God, so far the score is: Trump — 0, Immigrants — 3!
(Fr. Juarez is pastor of St. Patrick Parish in Iowa City.)