Thousands of immigrants and their supporters have attended rallies throughout the United States in the past year, calling attention to the broken system in which many undocumented immigrants languish. Separation from family members, the possibility of deportation, workplace discrimination and exploitation, and decades-long waits for legal rights (or even help) are only some of the battles they face. Top it off with a mean-spirited political climate that tends to vilify "foreigners," and you have the recipe for a contentious, complicated issue.
Members of the New Sanctuary Movement, a faith-based coalition of congregations and groups, are telling the stories of the men, women, and children who are living these difficult circumstances. As Alexia Salvatierra writes in "Sacred Refuge," the goal of the New Sanctuary Movement isn't to provide sanctuary to the 12 million undocumented immigrants living in the United States. It's to call attention to the reality of immigrants' lives?like the woman and child on the cover, these are real people living at the margins of society?and the need to repair the ailing system.
Despite Congress's failure to enact comprehensive immigration reform, this issue isn't going away, and faith communities are working on long-term strategies for changing hearts and minds. "When a foreigner lives with you in your land, don't take advantage of her," the Bible reminds us. "Treat the foreigner as a native. Love him like one of your own. Remember you were once foreigners in Egypt" (Leviticus 19:33-34). Such remembering can truly help us in the difficult but essential task of welcoming the stranger among us.