Matt is a member of small Christian community that prays together on Tuesday nights at a community prayer house. One of the ministries that this community performs is immigrant hospitality, which helps Hispanic immigrants get settled in the United States. My understanding is that they help whoever comes to them, legal or illegal.
I came back to the house on July 4 to find Matt very upset. Granted, by normal standards, Matt would have seemed just peeved, but by Matt standards I could tell something was really wrong. I knew that he was supposed to have gone to welcoming party for a girl who was moving into one of the houses, so I was initially confused. As I listened, I realized what had happened.
The girl is an illegal immigrant, but is considered an unaccompanied minor since she was under eighteen. This means she was kept at a separate juvenile center for detained immigrants. The communities understanding had been that she would be released on her eighteenth birthday, so she could get her life back together and get the proper documentation. They planned an entire welcoming party for her, only for her to be moved to the adult detention center on her birthday instead of being released.
Matt explained to me that detainees at this site are not informed of how their legal case is progressing, and can be held for an indefinite amount of time. Therefore, neither the girl nor her host family knew if or when she would be released or deported. Luckily the story has a happy ending in that she was released a few days later and is now living with her host family.
Being a detached observer of immigration here in Arizona has helped me be fairly objective about the issue. There are legitimate concerns on both sides; we do not want porous borders through which drugs, weapons, and criminals flow, but we should not have to resort to what amounts to concentration camps for illegal immigrants. Matt also observed that immigration is a complicated issue, but he added that if there was a feasible way to immigrate legally, more people would do it. The way I see it, the legalization ought to be streamlined to admit more people, but any plan would probably have pitfalls and opponents. About all that people can agree on is that the issue is complicated, but change has to start somewhere.