Six days in jail. $11,300 and counting to post bond and retain an immigration lawyer. Hours upon hours of waiting. Dozens of phone calls with no straight answers. Miles of driving around the city and paying collectively about $100 in parking fees. Bureaucracy. Anxiety. Weeping. Shouting. Frustration. Fear.
All of this I have witnessed in the past week trying to walk with the couple who clean our home. I understand the argument that none of this would have happened if they had simply attended to the proper requirements and protocol of immigration law. But those who have never really had to stare down that precipice sorely underestimate the complexities of that process. And honestly, if her entire world can blow up because she didn’t have a driver’s license, I don’t understand how this scenario is all that different from Americans being wrongfully locked up abroad. Seriously, six days in jail with sex offenders, wife beaters, and the mentally ill? Are undocumented immigrants to be criminalized to that extent? And even I should understand that citizenship has its privileges, what does it mean for me as a follower of Christ?
I have heard Tim Keller once say in a seminar that “the poor a city without walls.” They have no defense, no friends, no power, and no leverage. I spent many hours this week so angry, frustrated, and helpless with my Brazilian friend, that I expressed my deepest apologies for not being able to do anything more than sit with him and watch as their whole lives suddenly were pushed to the very edge. And he turned to me in his broken English and said, “No, I have nobody. Only you sit with me.”
So now that bail has been posted. We have a court date. And we sit some more.
Have mercy on us, O God. I do not enjoy sitting for something I cannot stand. Thank you for inviting me to sit.