Immigrants on Good Friday: ‘Trump Is Crucifying Us’

Concepción Blanco and Ricardo Pérez will participate in the procession. (Photo by Mariela Lombard via El Diario)

Concepción Blanco and Ricardo Pérez will participate in the procession. (Photo by Mariela Lombard via El Diario)

Ricardo Pérez is not worried about the weight of the 200-pound cross he will carry today in the Via Crucis of Saint Peter’s Catholic Church in Yonkers. His goal is that it will send a message to the Latino community and the U.S. presidential candidates.

 

“I feel proud to be able to experience this walk with God, but most of all it’s a penance, a sacrifice that is nothing compared with what God suffered that day, but with which I want to make a call for immigration reform.

“At this moment I have temporary papers because I’m a ‘Dreamer,’ and thanks to the benefits that President Barack Obama gave to those who arrived here as children my life has changed, but my wish is that all of us will have permanent rights,” said the Mexican, 30.

“I arrived here when I was 14, but I am worried that I am going to lose the benefits Obama gave us. This is why I am asking those who can vote that they do so responsibly and that they think about us, because sometimes when people get their green card and their citizenship they forget that they were once immigrants.”

The Via Crucis of not having papers is felt first-hand by people like Celestino González, who left his native Mexico in 1998 looking for the American dream, and who has seen conditions starting to turn into a nightmare, having to carry heavier and heavier crosses.

González says that on top of being a victim of labor abuse, now there is the threatening discourse of such figures as Donald Trump, who has promoted hatred against undocumented people, and Ted Cruz, who does not lag behind when he says that, if elected, he will deport them.

Recognizing that the only way for him and 11 million undocumented people to get a better life is immigration reform, he is ready to do a hard penance.

The construction worker will play Simon of Cyrene, who helped Jesus carry the cross for a stretch. “It is with great love that I do this penance, it’s a good way to purge away my sins and to ask God to stop violence and discrimination against immigrants,” said the Mexican, who although he is in the process of regularizing his immigration status, is still without papers.

“I may be an illegal, but I’m not a criminal. I married an American citizen who is sponsoring me, and I hope this time I do get my green card so I can visit my mother, who is 80,” said the man, in tears, who has not seen his relatives in almost 20 years.

Fidel Bolaños, who has lived in this country without papers for nine years, will dress as a soldier during Good Friday: “Trump is crucifying immigrants, but I hold on to the idea that nothing lasts forever and that every sacrifice has a reward. That’s why we hope there will be an immigration reform so that we can live in peace and demonstrate that we are not a threat.”

Chain of prayer 

Concepción Blanco, from El Salvador, who is thrilled that she will be able to embody the Virgin Mary in the way of the Cross, said she hopes these holy days will be a good time to put the legacy of Christ into practice.

“For me it’s an honor to do this role, in which our Blessed Mother stood by her son when he died and was sent to the Calvary. But it also saddens me because I see that many people do not understand that if Jesus died on the cross for us, he did it so we would be equal, without putting racial or color differences between anybody.”

The Salvadoran immigrant added that even though Jesus’ teachings must be followed, you shouldn’t just allow abuse.

Although Trump’s discourse of hatred has made many people feel abused and more than one wishes to see him “crucified” in the polls, Concepción said that she is convinced that there is a way to make the Republican change his mind.

“All we can do now is pray for him, because this way he can change his heart. That’s why I am making a call for everybody to join in a permanent chain of prayer to ask the Blessed Mother’s intervention so she can change his heart,” she said.

“I have faith that it’s going to happen, because if one of the thieves who were with Jesus changed, Donald Trump can also change. We need to be more humble, because if we treat an arrogant person with the same arrogance, that is only going to increase that arrogance.”

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