People of Faith United For Immigrants- Church of Christ

    On this Ash Wednesday after Super Tuesday, it is important to realize that the hopes and dreams of our nation cannot be merely loaded onto the backs of any President, no matter how good or bad she/he is. While campaigning for immigration reform, so many Christian denominations are simultaneously working to give hope and sustenance to the “strangers” within our land. Though these 12 million or so extralegal residents are not courted by any Presidential hopeful, they do deserve a voice and a chance. The Church has been and must be that voice.

    James 2 calls Christians not to be respecters of persons, to refrain from showing “favoritism.” “Has not God chosen those who are poor in the eyes of the world to be rich in faith and to inherit the kingdom he promised those who love him?” (James 2:5 NIV). When God calls us to love your neighbor as yourself, the Church has responded by reaching out to our neighbors outside of these borders and the immigrants within.

    The Church of Christ, has been very forthcoming with a strong position on immigrants and immigration policy. At a recent synod, the Church of Christ passed the following immigration Resolution of Witness.

 

WHEREAS, Jesus and the scriptures give us clear instruction on how we are to treat the
foreigner and neighbors in need; and

WHEREAS, the Biblical heritage of the Judeo Christian tradition specifically identifies
the “stranger” in our midst as deserving of our love and compassion; and

WHEREAS, we have been called by the one God to tear down all the borders we have
built between us so that we may see each person as a child of God, so that we may learn to love and welcome all of God’s children as members of one family and one world; and

WHEREAS, our consciences are affronted by federal policies and actions that detain immigrants, that prosecute undocumented workers, that fracture families and prosecute those who would give them aid; and

WHEREAS, more than 3,000 men, women and children have died attempting to cross
the US/Mexico border since the implementation of the blockade strategy of border enforcement and there is little evidence that this policy has been effective in slowing the tide of illegal immigration; and

WHEREAS, many of us are in local churches and communities where we are aware of
migrant peoples, but largely unaware of their personal, communal, and national stories; and

WHEREAS, the United States is affected by the presence of new immigrants from all
over the world, and

WHEREAS, although countries have the right to control their own borders, it is not an
absolute right; the Church recognizes a basic God given right for shelter, food, clean water and other basic necessities; and

WHEREAS, the blockade strategy of border enforcement has created an underground
market for the smuggling of human beings which exploits its vulnerable victims, and has encouraged an upsurge in vigilante activities, fosters an anti-immigrant atmosphere and represents the potential for violence; and

WHEREAS, current immigration policy forces upon migrant families potentially deadly
choices which separate and dislocate them from one another, precluding free travel and mobility to return to their families; and

WHEREAS, migrant workers and their families enter the United States to live and work,
and the current immigration policy makes that passage dangerous, illegal, disorderly, and inhumane, with very few of the basic rights afforded to all workers under international law; and

WHEREAS, approximately ten to twelve million undocumented workers and their
families currently living in the United States are pressured to live covertly, without rights, and in vulnerable situations all over the United States; and

WHEREAS, the root causes of this migration lie in environmental, economic, and trade
inequities between the United States, Mexico, and all of Latin America, policies which reduce tariffs and taxes that would support the poor in Mexico and Latin America; eliminate agricultural subsidies and low-interest loans for the poor in Mexico and Latin America while keeping those subsidies in the United States and in Canada; reduce social spending for health care, food stamps, and welfare reform in Mexico and Latin America; liberalize land ownership policies, thus limiting the ability of the poor in Mexico and Latin America to own or share in the land; deregulate environmental and labor laws in Mexico and Latin America; and limit the rights of Mexican and Latin American workers to protest or seek remedies for wrongs done to them; and

WHEREAS, the fragile desert environment has sustained severe damage as a result of
migrant and responding enforcement patrols moving through remote desert regions; and

WHEREAS, General Synod XIII of the United Church of Christ (1981) adopted a
Pronouncement on Immigration calling upon all settings of the church to:

a. advocate for the rights of immigrants;

b. aid undocumented immigrants in attaining legal status;

c. aid immigrants in reunification with their families and in placement in areas of the country most favorable for their productive participation in society;

d. assist in meeting the social welfare needs of immigrants; and

e. be inclusive of immigrants in existing and new churches; and

WHEREAS, General Synod XXIV of the United Church of Christ adopted a resolution
supporting Humane Borders, a faith-based group that offers assistance to those in need by maintaining water stations on and near the border and recognizing that there is more that can be done within and by the United Church of Christ regarding border issues; and

WHEREAS, the United Church of Christ proudly declares an extravagant welcome to all
who seek to be in relationship with Jesus Christ;

THEREFORE LET IT BE RESOLVED that General Synod Twenty-six of the United
Church of Christ declares that the Militarized Border Enforcement Strategy of the United States government has been ineffective and inhumane.

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that UCC congregations with their congressional
representatives, advocate for a policy that allows immigrant workers and their families to live and work in a safe, legal, orderly and humane manner through an Employment- Focused immigration program (as opposed to employer focused) that guarantees basic international workers’ rights to organization, collective bargaining, job portability, religious freedom, easy and safe travel between the United States and their homeland, and verifiable paths to residency, and a basic human right of mobility.

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that the conference ministers be urged to participate in
delegations and immersion programs, and that UCC congregations seek out opportunities for face to face dialogue with immigrant communities.

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that the congregations and pastors of the UCC study
the immigration issue through discussion and reflection of films such as “El Norte” and

Babel” and books such as “The Devil’s Highway” by Luis Alberto Urrea.

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that congregations and pastors form grass roots
organizations working in conjunction with established groups such as:

Border Links

Presbyterian Border Ministry

Samaritan Patrols

Illinois Maya Ministry

The New Sanctuary Movement

Center for Education and Social Transformation

<http://www.ucc.org/synod/resolutions/immigration-final.pdf>

 

As a Border Ambassador myself, I wholeheartedly applaud the ecumenical way the Church of Christ has gone about supporting immigrants. This denomination realizes that Christians must be united in their support for the sojourner. If every church in these United States could come together in solidarity for the immigrant community, the nation would surely take notice. We need more than numbers, however. The May Day demonstrations of 2006 brought 10 million people into the streets but no progress in Congress. If the Church could begin to take action on resolutions such as that of the Church of Christ, then the immigrants would no longer be caught between criminality and marginality.

    To this end, the Border Ambassadors here in the Rio Grande Valley hope to work alongside denominations like the Church of Christ in our No Border Wall Walk this March 8-16. We will be walking 120 miles from Roma to Brownsville, TX, both in an effort to publicize and under-represented issue and to show solidarity for the landowners and communities currently opposing a border wall. However, opposition to a border wall can never be a success if it is not part of a larger effort to humanize and legitimize hard-working, loyal would-be residents (Americalmosts) here in the United States and to honestly strive to diminish the “push” factors of immigration the world over.

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2 Responses to “People of Faith United For Immigrants- Church of Christ”

  1. Mike Says:

    Hey there! Nice piece.

    Just one important correction; Obama’s denomination is the United Church of Christ (www.ucc.org) not the Church of Christ. They’re two separate denominations that are really very different. Their names are so close that people get them confused all the time. . .

  2. mpw160 Says:

    Mike –

    Thank you so much for your comment. And thank you, too, for correcting my innocent mistake. As we both know, nomenclature is extremely important (think of the difference between “extralegal resident” and “illegal alien”). I hope to hear from you more on this compelling issue of immigrant justice.

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