Epistle on Immigration from Amigas del Señor Monastary, May 22, 2018
[The following text was abridged from the original epistle, published at: westernfriend.org/media/epistle-immigration-unabridged]
Dear Friends: Here in Honduras, folks who go to the USA are said to go “with papers” or “without papers.” We are well aware that the news and information readily available to you and the news and information readily available to us are different, with very little overlap. Therefore, we wish to share our experience of the immigration “without papers” as seen from Honduras.
The major piece of the illegal immigration problem is that Central America is simply poor and the USA is rich. Even very poor people in the USA have public schools with electricity, running water, and books. Even poor people in the USA walk on sidewalks, have paved streets, have access to public lending libraries, have fire departments that are effective and have public services that usually work. Hondurans consider the USA to have good law and order. Hondurans want a higher standard of living. It is that simple.
When Puerto Rican citizens received the right to move freely between the US and Puerto Rico, not much attention was paid to it until Puerto Rico suffered a severe economic downturn a few years later. That’s when 20-25% of the population of Puerto Rico moved immediately to the continental USA. Honduras alone has a population of 8 million persons. One fourth of that would be 2 million, eager to immigrate to the USA if it were legal. When we think of the other Central American countries, the numbers are staggering. The USA is simply not in a position to accept the huge numbers who would come if it were easy.
We at Amigas del Señor live the ministry of accompaniment; that is, we live in poverty alongside our poor neighbors and travel in the back of pickup trucks. By living below the level of Honduran minimum wage, we use no more than our fair share of the world’s resources. We also provide volunteer services at the local public health clinic. We are committed to helping Honduran-initiated projects. When we have the money, we buy medicines for the public health clinics in the county, focusing on the least expensive medicines and on family planning services. We try to help the largest number of people with a small amount of money.
Part of the solution of the illegal immigration problem is to improve the standard of living for the vast majority of citizens of Central American countries. For example, a public school teacher in Honduras can’t afford an automobile or a personal computer on their salary. This wide discrepancy between rich and poor must be addressed. We must look at what can be done and who will do it. You are immensely powerful people in the USA.
Sister Alegía del Señor y Sister Confianza del Señor
Amigas del Señor Methodist-Quaker Monastery
Limón, Colón, Honduras