On Dec. 16, Mary and Joseph, looking for shelter and hospitality before the birth of Jesus, will visit the offices of Sens. Michael DeWine and George Voinovich and Reps. Marcy Kaptur and Paul Gillmor in Toledo, Ohio, to ask for just U.S. immigration policies for recent immigrants.

The event is organized locally by the Farm Labor Organizing Committee (FLOC), Church of God of Prophesy, Good Shepherd Baptist Church, St. Peter and Paul Church, Hispanic Ministries of the Toledo Catholic Diocese, Sisters of St. Francis of Sylvania and Tiffin, Interfaith Justice and Peace Center, and Iglesia Nueva Vida Methodist Church.

The local action is part of similar events organized nationally in more than 20 communities by the National Coalition for Dignity and Amnesty. The event reenacts the story of the traditional Mexican Posada, symbolizing the obligation of hospitality towards immigrants. The Posada is a representation of Mary and Joseph, strangers in Bethlehem, looking for shelter before the birth of Jesus.

The action is a call for more just U.S. immigration policies. It emphasizes the significant contributions immigrants, often working low-wage, backbreaking jobs, make to this country. Beatriz Maya, FLOC director for immigrant rights, said, “What the American government has done so far is to suck up all their blood and sweat and give them nothing more than abuse and persecution.” Maya says that today’s immigrants — like those in the past — are here looking for a better future and are willing to contribute the best they have to the country.

Mary, Joseph and the shepherds will start the pilgrimage through the congressional offices from the FLOC office in Toledo.

The author can be reached at rwood@pww.org.