Loving the Stranger: Rapazzini Reflects on El Camino del Immigrante

rapazzini-el-caminoA Pilgrimage for Immigration Reform

From August 20-30, participants from all over the country partnered with the Christian Community Development Association (CCDA) to walk for a new immigration system. A 10 day, 150 mile walking pilgrimage from the Tijuana border to their National Conference location in Los Angeles, the event aimed to serve as a wake up call to policymakers to work towards reform. El Camino del Immigrante, translated as the journey, the way, the path of the immigrant, was founded “in solidarity to call out this injustice and highlight the often silenced voices of suffering immigrants and their families,” says Noel Castellanos, President & CEO, CCDA.

A former PLT intern, Melina Rapazzini participated in the walk. In an excerpt from her paper on El Camino del Immigrante, she writes:

“In America we treat immigrants and refugees as commodities; we exploit their bodies, refuse to pay them fair wages, eat the berries their children pick in North Carolina, resent them for being in our country, and scapegoat them for our problems. This is not a new narrative. We have always done this to people unfamiliar to our tribe. We must reorient our vision to seeing these sisters and brothers as human because they are, and because they are imbibed with the image of God. For no other reason than that, the church must throw off the veil of privilege, take the side of justice, and join God’s work already being done, even if this work includes political action.

I did not know any person who was undocumented before I intentionally sought them out through going on the Camino. When faces and relationships move to overshadow the relentlessly numbing onslaught of statistics and tragic news articles, humanization begins. ‘Imago Dei’ humanization can inspire a cultural shift that will rework the way the Church welcomes immigrants.”

To read Rapazzini’s full paper click here. For more information on the CCDA, visit their website here.

Melina Rapazzini (Col ’16) graduated from U.Va. with degrees in religious studies and nursing. As a 2015 summer intern in Lived Theology, Rapazzini worked with New Covenant Hope Church in Oakland to develop a reading, art, and gardening program for inner-city refugee children. In August 2016, she joined the CCDA on El Camino del Immigrante, a 10 day, 150 mile walking pilgrimage from the Tijuana border to Los Angeles in support of immigration reform.

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