A new report from the State of California’s Department of Finance came out this month showing that the population of California is in trouble. According to the report, “The reasons for the decline during this decade were, by order of magnitude, higher domestic out-migration, lower immigration to California, and fewer births.”
The American dream was affirmed yesterday– at least for some California residents. For tens of thousands of children, brought here illegally as children by their parents, Jerry Brown’s signing of the California Dream Act, was a symbol of hope that their state cares about them.
Qualifying students, regardless of their immigration status, can now apply for state financial aid. This was part B of a two-part law, part A passed earlier this year which allowed students to apply for private loans & financial aid regardless of status.
This is great, but it isn’t enough
While I’m thrilled with this new state law it isn’t the Dream Act we need at the federal level.
- Qualifying students still cannot apply for federal financial aid because they lack legal immigration status.
- Republicans continue to block measures which would provide a pathway to citizenship or even permanent resident status for children brought here by their parents.
- Since the majority of financial aid for college comes from the federal level, this is more support but not a level playing field.
Why this matters to youth workers and the church
- It’s a matter of justice: It’s an injustice that a person raised in this country, who goes to school right next to your children, does not have the same opportunities to succeed that your child does. For many of these students, they had no say in whether or not their parents brought them here. But they have gone through our educational system, learned the language, competed with native-speaking peers, and this is their country in every way… except the one that truly matters, full legal status/rights.
- It’s a matter of fairness: You want to pay $.99 for a pound of tomatoes or $1.29 for ground beef? Do you really think that $7 t-shirt you are making for your retreat was made by workers making minimum wage? Of course not. We both know it. Your standard of living is subsidized off of the back’s of cheap labor. To block those workers children access to post-secondary education & a pathway to legal status is embracing a system of oppression.
- It’s a matter of numbers: Whether your church recognizes it or not we are still a melting pot country. The Latino population (whom the Dream Act primarily benefits) is exploding! Some predictions show that nearly 30% of the US population will be of Latino origon by 2050. On top of that, the census bureau is predicting a massive shift towards youth in the coming years. Currently, there are 59 children per 100 people in the US. By 2025 this will be 72. So our country is getting younger and more Latino… quickly.
- It’s a matter of strategy: Let’s talk turkey. Let’s say you could care less about the first 3 things I listed. (Justice, fairness, and numbers) Let’s say you’re so hung up on the fact that their parents brought these children here illegally that you don’t want to give them anything like legal status, equal protection under our laws, or equal access to the same education your children have. (e.g. Arizona & Alabama lawmakers) With the population quickly shifting to give numerical power to legal people of Latino origin… do you really want to have your church as one of the agencies who held them back? Do you think that’s a good long term strategy for your church?
For my youth worker friends: Let’s be reminded that our role in our community isn’t just to work at our churches. We are in our communities to advocate for all teenagers in Jesus’ name. God isn’t interested in the immigration status of students in your ministry. He’s interested in their status with Himself.
The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’
Hmmm… my SoCal friends… can you say ROAD TRIP!
People are generally excited to come to Southern California.
It’s a very cool place for our family to get to live! It is somewhere we never aspired to live but are completely enjoying.
But I have to admit that I cringe a little when I see folks I follow on Twitter or friends on Facebook say, “I’m going to Cali.”
See, most people who live here don’t refer to where they live as “Cali.”
We aren’t offended by it. It just automatically self-identifies you as a visitor.
Understand that California is a big state. VERY BIG. Venti. And extremely diverse geographically, regionally, in population, and culturally. On a perfect day it’d take you 13 hours to drive from Imperial Beach to Yreka along Interstate 5. (aka “the 5”) Just in San Diego County alone there are a bunch of different climates. Ocean beaches, mountain tops, arid desserts… palm trees and citrus trees to apple and peach trees; surfer to rancher.
To smash the whole state into a phrase like, “I’m going to Cali” just doesn’t feel right to us.
So what do I say?
To generalize it, you can say you are going to NorCal or SoCal even though there is no official dividing line. When we lived in Northern California there was always conversations that the North should separate from the South… that’s how different they are!
It’s perfectly acceptable to say, “I’m going to Southern California.” So don’t feel like you have to shorten it. But if you want to, it’s SoCal.
Better yet, you can regionalize it by saying you are going to San Diego, LA, the Central Valley, Tahoe, or the Bay Area. Headed somewhere a bit more rural? Some people describe their travels by saying what county they are headed to.
But few of our 37 million residents will post on their Facebook page, “I’m headed back to Cali tomorrow.” Just like you wouldn’t see someone say, “I’m headed back to Ala tomorrow.” Or, “Can’t wait to fly how to Wisc.”
At the same time. If you are coming as a tourist you can call us whatever you’d like as long as you leave some of your money here.
Because primarily– you can call us capitalists.
Next week, I’m hitting the road and driving from San Jose to just north of Seattle. I guess there are 3 over-arching reasons I’m doing this. Two are a bit secondary and perhaps selfish, which the third is really the justification for everything else.
- I love a good road trip. There is something almost magical about driving across our country. If you’ve never done a multi-day drive you won’t understand that statement. My first was “Golf across America” in 2002. My last one was “Travels with Stoney” in 2008. This trip needs a name.
- YS is still alive. It’s not that you, my kind reader, doesn’t know that. It’s that a lot of people have an open question… “What’s going on with YS?” And this trip is aimed at answering that question. (This is what’s known as “the business justification.“) Plus, even before all of the changes, I kept begging for this because I knew there was a need to get our staff on the ground talking with youth workers out of the office.
- Your story matters. My first two road trips were about my story. (Travels with Stoney was a little more about our families story and our hope for a fresh start.) This trip is about the stories of youth workers. My work has put me in contact with innumerous youth workers… and collectively we have a story to tell. My premise is that as I drive and host these meet-ups I’ll hear (and capture) stories from youth workers which the community will really resonate with.
What’s fascinating about going out to discover youth workers stories is… it’s all about discovery. I’ve got a rough sketch of who I’m going to meet, but I really don’t have a clue where this is going to go. And what makes a road trip so fun for this format of story discovery is that I probably won’t really get a thread through all of the stories until I’m done. Since I’m telling stories as I go, there’s even a great chance that you will see the thread before I will.
Another fascinating element to telling people’s stories, one that I’m just learning to appreciate, is that power of telling a persons story to the person whose story is being told. It’s one thing to tell your own story. But it’s an entirely different thing to have someone come into your life and then to other people about you. As I’ve been scheduling my meet-ups and talking to people, I hear them question, “you want to tell my story?”
You are story worthy.
Your story is interesting.
Your story is helpful to you.
Your story is helpful to others.
As a child of the King bought at a price, your story has unlimited value.
“you were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your body.” 1 Corinthians 6:20
This is one of those urban legends I’ve heard a lot of since moving to California. And I have to admit, this is one of those things that people in the Midwest say about California that drives me a little batty.
California is a blue state. That is true. I am not a political historian but I would guess that the last time California voted for a republican for president was Ronald Reagan. What’s interesting about politics in California is that it’s identical to a lot of states with major metropolitans. The major metros trend heavily towards being democrats while the suburban and rural areas trend towards republicans. Outside of the Los Angeles and San Francisco areas most of California leans republican… including Orange County in the LA area and San Diego County with it’s massive military community.
The land of fruits and nuts. As if Michigan, Illinois, and Indiana (states where I’ve lived most of my life) didn’t have people who were a little abnormal. It is completely true that you will see and hear some crazy stuff in public. Hang out near the beaches and you’ll hear the craziest things on the planet. But also bear in mind that twice in the last decade voters have passed a proposal to ban gay marriage. Sounds pretty conservative to me. Michigan only passed one! Those Michigan people are such liberals!
California is full of strange characters. This one cracks me up. Take me to any breakfast joint in the Midwest and I’ll show you the same cooky characters. California doesn’t have the corner on the market of weird people. In fact, while we did have people in our church in Northern California who were convinced that the government was coming to get them and the postal carriers were secret government agents… those same characters are played by different actors at coffee shops in downtown Romeo. I remember a certain guy who carried around a photo album of road kill, deer he’d shot, and stories he told about people killing deer with a hammer. Who is weird now?
California is full of hippies, gays, druggies, and women with fake boobs. OK, that’s true. Those are actually the four categories you have to fit into before you’re allowed to register to vote. An additional qualification is that you have to watch all the Cheech and Chong movies before you can get a driver’s license. When we signed the kids up for school they implanted a chip behind their ear so that government agents could decide which category they’d fall into as adults.
Remember, labels are just devices people use so they know how to best ignore you.
This is powerful. Obviously, Kristen and I are feeling quite fortunate that this isn’t our story. But for hundreds of thousands of Americans this is a video that reflects their life, their belongings, and their dreams. As Jake asks, is there a ministry opportunity here?
HT to Jake
Megan and I are very actively planning our our trip. We’re still looking for a place to say in the greater Albuquerque area. We’ve also determined that we’ll be stopping at the memorial of the Oklahoma City bombings. Check out our trip and feel free to suggest a stop for us.
One thing that is going to make our planning a little easier is for you to tell me how you’d like to follow out journey. Do you want me to write stories? Post a ton of pictures? Make daily video blogs? So take a second to vote and let Megan and I know. Stoney doesn’t care.
Today we booked everything for our upcoming trip to San Diego. That’s right, I said “we.” The whole family is making the trip out to check out houses and get excited about the move. We leave in less than two weeks and will be gone for 8 days. After that it’ll be less than 2 weeks until we fly out to move “for good.”
Megan (7) has started to feel what is happening. She told mommy today, “This is a brave things we are doing together.” I think that that may have come from a conversation she and I had on Saturday. I told her, as we worked together, that this was probably the last time we’d be trimming these bushes. She shot back at me, “Yeah, we’re moving and we’ll never come back here again!”
The word “never” lead to a discussion about God’s sense of humor and how God was laughing at our move to California. Just a couple of months ago we joked that “We’d never live in California again, we just don’t like it. It’s not for us!” Who is laughing now? I think God is. He has a funny way of rewarding my “never” with a “Oh yeah?”
I believe God calls us to recklessly follow Him. I don’t mean we are called as Christians to be fools. But I think we are called to have “stupid faith.” God wants us to put faith in Him beyond logical fact.
And the McLane family is learning exactly how that works. We’re taking a major step of faith. We’re leaving the security of people we love. We’ve walked away from a job we loved. We’re leaving the perfect house on the perfect street. And why? Well… because daddy (me) is pretty sure God has called us to leave.
That’s why we can look at these tough few weeks ahead with a smile through the tears. You better believe there will be tears as we pack the truck and watch it head down Bailey Street. We’ll hug one another as this chapter of our life departs for the next one.
I know that the kids are sad. I know Kristen is sad. And I know that life will never quite be the same for all of us… because daddy is pretty sure God has called us to leave Romeo.
Where do you go when you’re entering times like this? I run to the classics. I think of Moses. I think of Joshua. I think I don’t want to be Jonah. I want to look into God’s eyes (figuratively, of course) and say… “It’s a crazy plan, but I will wrecklessly follow You.”
Everyone in our house is more brave than I am. Let’s be blunt about that. For me, there is little fear because I’m not stretching myself as much as they are. I know what San Diego is like and I know where I will work. I don’t have to start at a brand new school. I don’t have to find all new friends. I don’t have to find a job. But Kristen and the kids do. Heck, even Stoney and Lovely (our dog and cat) are more brave than I am. You don’t see me getting in the cargo area of a plane.
We’re brave together. I like that about what Megan said. To be honest, it’s a good thing to be brave together. I want to take big, bold, crazy steps of faith together as a family. God has proven Himself to me over and over… I know I can trust in Him. And I love teaching that to my kids.
This is the quote of Justice H. Walter Croskey of the 2nd District of Appeals in California.
In our short tenure in California we saw some of the dark sides of homeschooling. While I know there are fantastic parents who do an excellent job homeschooling their children I have also seen first hand the other side. What we saw was borderline criminal neglect. Link