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Rose Marie Cummins, OP (Peace)
Chaplain, Federal Detention Center Florence, Arizona

Reflection by Rose Marie Cummins, OP, on Promoting Unity in Diversity
(reprinted with permission)

Every day, there are more than 1,300 persons from over 80 countries in detention here. They are men and women, sometimes juveniles and children, who have fled their countries because of war, poverty, persecution and discrimination based on their religion, sexual orientation, ethnicity or political opinion.

The officers and agents making the arrests are only carrying out a policy that we U.S. citizens have sanctioned and supported. We learn of out-of-state militiamen arriving in Arizona, armed to carry out their own brand of law enforcement. We see a plethora of commercials in which local politicians running for office attempt to boost their standing among voters by demonizing immigrants.

In facing serious issues like economic insecurity, trafficking of drugs and human persons, and increasing violence, we as a society find it easy to scapegoat immigrants. In doing so, we neglect to see the root causes of illegal immigration, and the plights of those who risk their very lives to find a better life here. We also neglect to acknowledge that our country is at heart a nation of immigrants; most of our ancestors once faced similar issues in their home countries and found similar prejudice awaiting them in their new country.

We reap so many benefits from the diversity our ancestors brought and the immigrants of today bring. Our schools, churches, work places, and neighborhoods are enriched by new cultures, practicies and perspectives shared by the immigrants among us.

We are called to create an environment of peace right here, right now, in this place, even in this state. We are called to try to understand fear — xenophobia in particular — and to rethink what it truly means to be American.

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