Part of what I do at Faith in Public Life is read the news every day to compile stories on faith and politics for the Newsreel, as I have mentioned before. Some stories I read about in particular weigh heavily on me. This is one of them.
An anonymous group in Utah calling themselves the Concerned Citizens of the United States have sent a 30 page watchlist of 1300 names to various members of the state and local governments as well as the media. Along with these names, addresses phone numbers, workplaces, social security numbers, names of children, and the due dates of the pregnant women are included on the list. Their rationale for such an atrocious invasion of privacy? The people on the watchlist, this anonymous Utah group alleges, are living in the country illegally (and how do they know this? because the names are of Latino origin, duh).
This watchlist is a blatant disregard for human dignity. And this anti-immigrant group rests safely in their anonymity while outing others!
Faith in Public Life blogged before about the fear that such anti-immigrant witch hunts, in the words Hispanic activist Tony Yapias, create. Here's what Dan Nejfelt wrote about his experience at the March for America:
"Then it hit me all of a sudden- the terror, the separation - this is what our immigration system inflicts on immigrant families every day. Except in communities across the country, when little children are separated from their parents, no announcements are made. No army of volunteers fans out to find them. The men with guns come to pull the family apart, instead of bringing them back together."
MSNBC reports that there is uneasiness even from state Representative Steven Sandstrom (R-Orem), who is drafting Utah's version of SB1070, about the anonymous Utah group's terrorizing tactics. But this watchlist goes hand in hand with anti-immigrant measures because, in the end, civilian and state-level attempts to enforce our broken immigration system succeed only in tearing communities apart and forcing people to live in fear of violence and hate crimes.
*This summer I am a Beatitudes Fellow at Faith in Public Life. The Beatitudes Society is a progressive Christian resource center for and network of faith leaders that offers seminarians like me internships at key national social change organizations. Faith in Public Life is one of those organizations, focusing on "advancing faith in the public square as a positive and unifying force for justice, compassion and the common good," a lot of which is in making the progressive faith voice audible in the media. I believe God has called me to parish ministry, yet I felt strongly that I needed experience outside of parish ministry if I want to be an effective pastor working for a just world. I have not been disappointed with this decision.