Family values have arisen as battle cry among Christians, specifically conservative Christians. During past presidential elections, family values were indicated as being a decisive factor for the electorate in arriving at the decision for whom to cast a vote.
Without a doubt, the Christian organization most responsible for shaping the definition to “family values” is Focus on the Family along with the organization’s main spokesperson, Dr. James Dobson. Focus on the Family self-declared vision is to “Redeem families, communities, and societies worldwide through Christ.”
Generally speaking, the endeavor of connecting biblical teachings to the difficulties faced by modern families is indeed a noble venture. In fact, several Latino/a conservative religious groups have made alliances with organizations like Focus on the Family to push through political issues identified by Focus on the Family as important for the well-being of the American family.
Unfortunately, when these same Latina/o raise the concern that the present U.S. immigration policies are causing havoc among Hispanic families, their request for solidarity is met with silence.
Looking closer at the actions taken by Focus on the Family, one is left asking, “On whose family do they focus?” This ministry appears to be more concerned with focusing on documented Euroamerican families or Latino/a families that have assimilated to Euroamerican values and worldviews than the families of the undocumented.
Focus on the Family’s official Web site only mentions immigration to state that while a worthy issue, there simply is no time to focus on the undocumented family. Instead the focus must remain on abortion and homosexuality.
Relegating immigration to simply another “issue” betrays the bias of the organization. Rather than seeing immigration policies as violence visited upon Hispanic families, immigration is only important when it impacts the families of the dominant culture. Choosing which family to focus on depends upon documentation.
The undocumented family is a family too. As such it needs to be strengthened and nurtured, like any other documented family. Instead, our present immigration policies–coupled with the anti-immigrant rhetoric common in the discourse–have brought tremendous violence to the undocumented family.
This violence includes, but is not limited to:
–Rape of Latina women and girls crossing the border. (It is now common practice for them to start taking birth control pills months prior to crossing under the assumption that they will be violated.)
–Denial of basic medical services to Hispanics, resulting in death.
–Economic abuse of Latino/as in the workplace, preventing the family from simply surviving.
–Separating Hispanic husbands from their wives or Latina/o parents from their children. (This is becoming a common occurrence, and the federal government continue conducting raids at the workplace).
Probably no greater human rights violation is presently occurring within the United States today than the violence being experienced by the undocumented.
Miguel A. De La Torre is director of the Justice & Peace Institute and associate professor of social ethics at Iliff School of Theology in Denver.
Miguel De La Torre is author of Liberating Jonah.
Professor of Social Ethics and Latinx Studies at Iliff School of Theology in Denver, Colorado.