On Monday January 13th, there was a peregrinación for Ricardo Ramos in Cleveland, Ohio. This pilgrimage ended at St. Casimir church where the pilgrims were going to pray to Our Lady of Czestochowa (the Polish Madonna) to intervene on Ricardo’s behalf. Combining Our Lady of Guadalupe with the Polish Madonna is part of what occurs in these ethnic parishes that have been in the process of changing hands from the European immigration of the last century, to the immigration of the global South today. Prayers to Our Lady of Czestochowa in some of the other Polish parishes in the Cleveland area include such traditional prayers for children to be safe in this troubled and sinful world. Laments for young people’s “godless” ways are coupled with prayers to end abortion. The prayer trails off with a request to be free of discrimination, hatred, and war. This time though, the older Polish parishioners of St. Casimir decided to take up a cause for a family that has been attended that parish for years, believing that Ramos’ pending deportation smacked of an unjust overreach by a system that has gone virtually unchecked for years.
The Catholic church’s historical presence in the Latino/a community coupled with its notions of social justice teachings provides the Latino/a community a vibrant religious life that can support and sustain people like Ricardo Ramos. Ramos was scheduled to be deported in January because he was caught driving without a license in Ohio. Previous to this, Ramos worked in the U.S. for 16 years. He is also the father of 3 U.S born children who may lose their father to the deportation system. Ramos is waiting for a miracle.
Outside of the Latino/a community and allies in the broader immigration rights communities–very little is being done to stop the deportation of hundreds of undocumented Latinos/as during the Obama administration. For 2011, 392,000 people were deported. The stories, especially those about parents removed from their families, strike yet one more blow against the idea that the strength of the family is of prime importance to either major political party. For the Obama administration to effectively blame the GOP-controlled House is an attempt to absolve themselves of these alarming numbers and the policy that attempts to paint the administration as giving prime importance to “law and order.” For the GOP, who’ve displayed no interest in stemming this tide, and in fact would have you believe that the solution to the immigration “problem” is more deportations. The idea that for 30 years, the GOP has played the “family values” card with very little to show for that mantle other than hyped up rhetoric, says much about the staying power of the Religious Right and their wide spectrum of media outlets, church groups, and other organizations that continue to promote that myth.