When Every Day is Labor Day

As you enjoy your day off, think about this story from Cardinal Sean of Boston.

For 20 years I worked as a priest with immigrants in Washington. There were many Portuguese who had left the old colonies after the revolution and were seeking a new life in America. Most were Hispanic refugees from Central America where civil wars were raging.

One day a man came to my office. He handed me a letter from his wife and sat down and wept. The wife scolded him for leaving her and their eight children to starve in the war torn El Salvador. She said she had waited over eight months and still he had not written or sent money.

The man told me he had left his farm in El Salvador and come illegally to Washington because it was impossible to farm with the war. He lived in a single room with six other men and worked in two restaurants, washing dishes. He told me that he walked to work, so as not to spend money on the bus and that he did not buy food, but rather ate the leftover food on the dirty dishes that he washed. Each week he sent all the money he earned to his wife, but she had not received his letters. I asked if he sent checks or cash. He told me he sent cash and each Friday mailed the letters and money, putting them in the blue mailbox on the corner.

I looked out the widow and saw his blue mailbox. It was a fancy trash bin.

Too often we who want to stop illegal immigration forget that the people entering our country are still people. They have lives and families and emotions and worries. Does that mean we open the borders and let everybody in? No, of course not. Yet there ought to be a way to allow men like this - who want nothing more than to provide for their families and willingly make enormous sacrifices to do so - to work in the U.S. while still keeping out the criminals, terrorists, gangsters, and others who might be a threat. The fact that the situation goes on unresolved is a political outrage and a human tragedy.

Happy Labor Day.

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