People of Faith United For Immigrants- United Methodist Church

    In his Autobiography, Martin Luther King writes, “Anyone who lives inside the United States can never be considered an outsider anywhere within its bounds” (189). And yet that is exactly what we have today. The Pew Hispanic Center estimates that there are some 12 million extralegal residents within our borders, all of whom have minimal rights of citizenship, justice, or recourse. As long as our restrictive immigration system perpetuates this sort of criminalization of its working class, our nation will continue to house millions of outsiders who could become even more of an asset to our society if only granted the basic rights we citizens take for granted. Though economic, historic, and sociological arguments have been and will continue to be made successfully, ultimately the immigration issue is a moral and a personal one. These are people who are being affected by this legislation, not numbers or statistics like our border checkpoints would have you think on their signs.

    The United Methodist Church is at the forefront of pro-immigrant actions here in the United States. Adalberto United Methodist Church in Chicago was in the headlines all last year as they gave sanctuary to undocumented Mexican immigrant Elvira Arellano. From the moment she was first arrested at a 2002 immigrant sweep at O’Hare airport, Sra. Arellano sought refuge with the United Methodists. Despite the fact that Elvira Arellano has since been deported to Mexico, Adalberto UMC continues to pro-actively campaign for immigration reform through its nonviolent acts of civil disobedience in providing sanctuary to another extralegal immigrant, Flor Crisostomo.

    Like so many Christians, these United Methodists took to heart Matthew 25:34-40

Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world. For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me…whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me. (NIV)

In showing Christian love to these immigrants on the wrong side of a broken system, these Methodists are showing solidarity for the plight of the stranger, of the disadvantaged, of the voiceless and right-less.

Twelve years ago, the United Methodist Church committed its stance on immigration to paper in a resolution dealing specifically with illegal immigration. The following clearly lays out this 1996 official statement of the United Methodist Church.

WHEREAS, the Holy Scriptures call us as the community of God to give shelter, protection and help to sojourners living amongst us, reminding us that we, too, were foreigners in other times; and

WHEREAS, the Council of Bishops of The United Methodist Church through its document To Love the Sojourner has given the various boards, commissions, and agencies of The United Methodist Church direction as we relate to undocumented persons that live in our communities; and

WHEREAS, undocumented persons possess certain inalienable rights named and lifted in the International Declaration on Human Rights, the United Nations charter, as well as the documents concerning immigration of the Geneva Convention, and the Constitution of the United States Bill of Rights; and

WHEREAS, one of the most critical issues facing the Hispanic community today is the need for amnesty for the undocumented immigrants living within the United States; and

WHEREAS, being an undocumented person is NOT a crime;

Therefore, be it resolved, that we, The United Methodist Church, declare that the Illegal Immigration Reform and Immigrant Resolution Act is evil and unjust, and that the enforcement thereof results in immediate and insufferable human rights violations, discrimination, and oppression.

We call the United States government to accountability and insist upon:

1) changes in, and possible abolition of, the 1996 immigration law;

2) the continued existence of a unified Immigration and Naturalization Service, rather than a division into administrative and enforcement prosecutorial branches, and

3) the development of an amnesty program for undocumented persons to be implemented immediately.

*The UMC commitment to immigrants is laudable, extending well beyond the words of this document and into the world of nonviolence. In addition to civil disobedience in the form of sanctuary churches, the United Methodist church is also participating in the 2008 No Border Wall Walk from Roma to Brownsville, TX. Pastor Juan Sales and his parishioners in Rio Grande City should be applauded for their brotherly love and their willingness to work for the immigrant.*


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8 Responses to “People of Faith United For Immigrants- United Methodist Church”

  1. americanchaos Says:

    The position that says “open borders, no matter what” would provide no barrier to tens if not hundreds of millions of immigrants potentially setting up shanties on public streets and squatting on public lands until American cities began to resemble Calcutta or Rio de Janeiro. Even mass immigration from regions with similar levels of economic development (like Japan and other Pacific Rim countries, Australia and New Zealand or Western Europe) would result in serious problems pertaining to overcrowded schools and neighborhoods, burdens on entitlements, social services and public transportation systems, ecological damage and effects on wage and employment rates. Churches that give sanctuary to illegal criminals should have their tax exempt status taken away for harboring such criminals

  2. mpw160 Says:

    Perhaps they should have their tax-exempt status revoked for harboring such extralegal aliens who are criminalized by our current immigration laws. And perhaps that is the point; nonviolence does not attempt to escape justice, but rather make Justice more just. I believe the Church would be the last institution campaigning for anarchy. However, I do believe that most Christian denominations are advocating for the plight of immigrant. To suddenly open borders would be setting our nation up for overpopulation problems and draining other countries of much-needed citizens. However, a quota system which is blind to the difference between China and Andorra, an immigration system which perpetuates twelve million undocumented immigrants with no chance of going home or earning citizenship, a Border Patrol which erects walls instead of forging relationships, and employers who continue to encourage undocumented immigration yet discourage paths to citizenship – these are the things which the United Methodists and many other Christians are campaigning for in a nonviolent manner. These reforms would not be as radical as a sudden, over-night opening of borders, but it would immediately begin to relieve the symptoms of a failed immigration system.

  3. Nathan Says:

    How can “citizenship” of a “nation” be a moral issue? We are not, as a nation, killing or robbing these people. We’re deporting them. It’s not immoral to say, “Hey this is my land, and I’ll allow on it who I want.” If I broke in your door and came and started eating your food and drinking your water, would you approve? They are the theives and robbers for taking things that didn’t belong to them without asking the proper authority permission.

    The gospel makes no reference to man being allowed to live wherever he so desires.

  4. mpw160 Says:

    Nathan – thank you so much for your sincere comment. It is my hope that this blog can be a home for civil discourse, and I earnestly look forward to discussing this in depth.

    First of all, Gandhi states that nonviolence can be applied to all situations, including the robber scenario you invented. Gandhi voiced the fact that one would treat very differently a father, a friend, or a stranger who broke into your house. One would weep over the circumstances which bring a father to steal from his son, a friend to remain quiet instead of asking for help, or a stranger’s poverty to force him to crime. Gandhi would say allow it to happen and then work on the underlying issues.

    Second, your metaphor is flawed. Undocumented residents are not thieves or robbers but rather unrecognized “tenants.” Study after study shows that these 12 million people use far fewer public assistance programs and medical care. Without these immigrants’ contribution to social security, it would have crumpled years ago. These “robbers or thieves” contribute much more than they take – they simply have been denied legal means to citizenship by unresponsive quotas, or they have overstayed legal visas in hopes of gaining citizenship in a country to which they are already loyal.

    While the Gospel does not condone people breaking laws to live “wherever,” as you wrote, it most certainly is one the side of the immigrant, the stranger, the sojourner. Ultimately, a Gospel which is not also a social gospel, runs the risk of being so heavenly that it is of no earthly good. We should always be working to make His “kingdom come, [His] will be done, on earth as it is in Heaven.” Making our immigration legislation more humane and just will do just that.

  5. moses Says:

    It is key thought and inspiration for do better.

  6. Jessie Says:

    Matthew 25:34-40 is wonderfull and enought to explain what peolple chosen by GOD does… welcome people without discrimination, with love and doesnt matter the place they came from. We all belong to GOD.
    I am very happy to know that we still have people and communities thats supports and defend a cause like this.
    Congratulations for all of you…
    When the people realize the real purpose of GOD they will fell embarrassed about their egoism, meanness, compassion for the less favourite. And GOD will judge them exactly the same way they are doing now. Everything belongs to GOD, nobody can say …” this is my land and here you are not welcome… ” this is so poor actitude. Things like that american people should feel shame. We have people dying in Africa and around the word because people act like that.
    And by the way… USA is beautiful, is organized, but is not the best place in the word. The argument ” ….open borders, no matter what” would provide no barrier to tens if not hundreds of millions of immigrant… hey, PLEASE wake up !!! USA is not the a paradise …. It`s a country like any other… with killers around the schools, hunger, homeless, racism betwem his own people. So let´s STOP with hypocrisy and learned how to treat people. LEV.19 33:34 is perfect to teach you… By the way. The all Bible is right. Just open your heart.
    God bless every one, and lets learn with our Best Teacher JESUS.

  7. Jessie Says:

    … By the way again, I forgot to remember those non immigrants that if USA is this power today is because in the past we had a lot immigrantes coming with a lot arrangement to build this country.
    The immigrants are the kind of people who refresh the American spirit. They are ambitious, courageous. the language is not a barrier, just because they are willing to learn and work hard, accepting jobs that Americans don´t want. They came seeking a better life for their families, they are not lazy, they came to work hard, and they are happy having an opportunity.
    … maibe this is the reason why some Americans dont like immigrants: because they will never be able to leaving their country if is not happy and going forward your dreams like this peolpe does ….
    Let´s live in peace. The world is for everyone, there is no owner, and always there is a place for one more.
    …. One day we won´t be here anymore and the only think that will
    counts, is our attitudes with our next.
    This life is too short to be fighting for insignificant thinks.
    LET´S HELP PEOPLE. THIS IS REALY IMPORTANT AND MAKE YOU FEEL GREAT… JUST TRY.. WITH NO DISCRIMINATON …GOD doens´t look you color, sex, age, nacionality, the size of your house, or your new car… HE looks your heart.


  8. Barbara Says:

    A family at our church is facing deportation. The father was stopped by the police for no reason. The family came here to get medical care for their daughters. No one in the family has legal status, and the parents are unskilled — but very hardworking.

    If anyone knows how we, as a church body, might draw together to support this family, I would love to hear from you!

    Peace and all good,

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