The Common Good

'The Stranger' Shows Realities of U.S.' Broken Immigration System

If you’re looking for a new resource that depicts the complexities of our outdated immigration system and the trials people face in trying to access “the line” that opponents say is available, then check out The Stranger.

The Stranger, a new film created by the Evangelical Immigration Table, is being used by thousands of churches and communities across the country to shed light on the brokenness of our immigration policies, the impacts it has on real human lives, and the urgent need for immigration reform in our places of worship, neighborhoods, and economy.

This new tool, produced by Emmy-award winning producer Linda Midgett, captures the stories of three immigrant families who have faced many bureaucratic, economic, and social challenges as they try to navigate our impractical system. 

First is the story of Maria. Maria is a devoted Christian and single parent raising four children in the midst of uncertainty and fear. Without immigration reform, Maria faces an unstable future and mounting barriers that make it more difficult to provide for her family. Although Maria tries to live optimistically, she lives with the constant fear that she will be deported and separated from her children, but holds on to her faith to keep her strong.

Next is Liuan’s story. Her story is also one that is all too familiar for thousands of families in the U.S. who are separated by our convoluted immigration laws. Initially, Liuan migrated to the U.S. with her family under her father’s student visa and eventually gained status when her father obtained a work visa. Due to unexpected family circumstances, not all members of her household were able to receive a green card under her father’s petition. Faced with challenging decisions, Liuan narrates the impact of living in a mixed status household.

The last story, although unique, shows how broken our system is even for someone who is culturally and linguistically competent in America. The Stewarts’ story shows how the nuances of immigration law oftentimes carry high financial, emotional and spiritual costs for families who face an outdated and impractical system. When the Stewarts’ decided to migrate from South Africa, they never could have imagined the hardships they’d face by coming into the United States. From fraud and self-deportation to biased government officials and family separation, the Stewarts’ journey provides an insight as to why our system is failing.    

These stories are only a few illustrations of the millions of lives that are negatively impacted by our immigration laws. Without immigration reform the suffering will continue. The strength of the film lies in the fact that it puts a face to the issue of immigration and highlights the moral responsibility we have as people of faith to respond. The personal stories of immigrants who are facing the unintended consequences of our countries broken immigration policies are often left out of the national debate. It is the faith community’s concern, care, and advocacy for our immigrant brothers and sisters that can serve as impetus for our elected leaders to act on the issue.    

Members of Congress need to recognize that their political battles driven by divisive ideological views can no longer be used as excuses to stall tangible progress for the common good of our nation. Despite the political dissonance that plagues Capitol Hill and the influence it has on media reporting, the truth is that Americans still support immigration reform. Yet members of the House are easy to turn a blind eye to this reality which only makes the situation worse for our communities and the economy.

The House’s inaction is unacceptable and immoral. As people of faith, we need to remind our elected leaders, as Bert Lemkes stated in film, “It’s not an option to wait, because the situation is only getting worse.”

If you are interested in hosting a screening of The Stranger in your community, please visit http://www.thestrangerfilm.org and sign-up to download your free copy and share with friends! 

Ivone Guillen is Immigration Campaign Associate with Sojourners.

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