comprehensive immigration reform

Sierra Club Endorses Immigration Reform

Sierra Club logo

Sierra Club logo

If Congress passes immigration reform, much of the credit will be given to the broad and diverse voices that have lined up in support of fixing our nation’s broken immigration system. Both the labor and business community have been instrumental in moving legislation forward, while the evangelical community’s call to “welcome the stranger” has received significant attention by politicians and the media. The coalition of supporters continues to grow, as last week the Sierra Club, the oldest environmental organization in the country, announced its support for immigration reform.

Why would an environmental organization get involved with immigration reform? What could they possibly have at stake?

A lot.

Catholic Bishops: Don’t Let Boston Attacks Derail Immigration Reform

Immigration Reform Rally on April 10. Photo by Catherine Woodiwiss / Sojourners

Immigration Reform Rally on April 10. Photo by Catherine Woodiwiss / Sojourners

Leading U.S. Catholic bishops on Monday denounced efforts to use the Boston Marathon bombings to derail the push for immigration reform, saying it is wrong to brand all immigrants as dangerous and that a revamped system would in fact make Americans safer.

“Opponents of immigration … will seize on anything, and when you’ve got something as vivid and as recent as the tragedy in Boston it puts another arrow in their quiver,” New York Cardinal Timothy Dolan, president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, told reporters.

“To label a whole group of people – namely, the vast population of hard-working, reliable, virtuous immigrants – to label them, to demean them because of the vicious, tragic actions of two people is just ridiculous,” he said. “Illogical. Unfair. Unjust.”

(VIDEO) Evangelicals Take Immigration Reform to Hill: Say Amnesty v. Deportation a 'False Choice'

Evangelical Immigration Table leaders, Photo by Catherine Woodiwiss / Sojourners

Evangelical Immigration Table leaders, Photo by Catherine Woodiwiss / Sojourners

Hours after Senate Gang of Eight’s immigration bill dropped early Wednesday, evangelical leaders from across the country gathered at the Capitol to raise their voices for comprehensive immigration reform. 

In the last two years, evangelicals have been a growing voice in the debate over immigration reform, hoping their votes — traditionally a bastion of conservative politics but recently broadening their engagement to gun violence preventionpoverty, and climate change — hold clout on the Hill when it comes to immigration reform.

The Evangelical Immigration Table, a coalition of evangelical leaders from across the political spectrum, gathered hundreds of people from 25 states for a day of action on the Hill. At the morning press conference, the Table representatives did not explicitly endorse or critique the Senate’s new bill. Instead, leaders pledged to "come alongside" any bill that supported their unified set of principals, namely immigration reform that: protects the unity of the immediate family; respects the rule of law; guarantees national security borders; and establishes a path toward legal status and/or citizenship for those who qualify.

Loving My Own Life Means Sharing It With Others

Photo by Catherine Woodiwiss / Sojourners

Immigration Reform Rally on April 10. Photo by Catherine Woodiwiss / Sojourners

Many of the great Christian thinkers throughout our history have seen that goodness, by its very nature, is diffusive of itself. That is, goodness is such that it pours itself out. To the degree to which I am good, I share that goodness with others to the same degree. The doctrine of creation is often seen in this light. God’s goodness is perfect and as such it is poured out naturally and freely to God’s creation. Goodness, in a word, is generous.

While thinking about immigration, I began to ask myself what this feature of goodness implies. How does the fact that goodness is diffusive of itself relate to my treatment of others, and especially to my treatment of those who, through no fault of their own, simply lack some of the basic goods that I have in abundance? Well, the answer seemed fairly obvious. My basic disposition toward my things and even myself must be one of generosity. Now we can argue over the fine points regarding this or that governmental policy, but we must recognize what we have and cultivate a deep desire to share it with others. Sharing our wealth, our food, our clothing is, I think, merely the first step towards becoming generous. 

The Passion of Christ and the Plight of Our Undocumented Neighbors

Nelson Navidad holds his son at a 2009 immigration rally. RyanRoderickBeiler.c /

Nelson Navidad holds his son at a 2009 immigration rally. RyanRoderickBeiler.com / Shutterstock.com

As Christians around the world gathered for Good Friday and Resurrection Sunday celebrations last weekend, I have  reflected a great deal about the connection between the suffering and passion of Christ and the plight of the undocumented in our nation.

This past year, an amazing surge of activity and concern has emerged among believers in general, and evangelicals in particular focused on passing a new immigration policy in our country. This development is quite a surprise and change. In fact, 10 years ago it was almost impossible to find a recognized evangelical leader who was knowledgeable about immigration, let alone one who was willing to speak out on this issue.

At the core of why evangelicals have made such a dramatic change of heart is the reading of Scripture. While it is impossible to ignore that there are 92 references in Scripture where the word, 'ger' is used, speaking about the stranger in our land and our treatment of these individuals, it is not one single verse but the entire revelation of Scripture that points us towards our responsibility to love the most vulnerable people in our society.

Alabama Senator Denies the Moral Responsibility of Immigration Reform

Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-AL) makes a statement to the media March 13. Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

The momentum for immigration reform is building across the country, but leaders in Washington are often the last to realize the seismic shifts taking place. The most recent example is when Alabama Sen. Jeff Sessions made the claim that there is no “moral or legal responsibility to reward somebody who entered the country [without documentation].”

No moral responsibility? Many Christians believe otherwise.

The Blessings That We Refuse

Statue of Liberty, Joshua Haviv / Shutterstock.com

Statue of Liberty, Joshua Haviv / Shutterstock.com

Immigrants are a blessing, not a curse. They are assets, not deficits. I have learned this the hard way after seven years working with the New York City New Sanctuary Movement. We have accompanied 67 people on the verge of detention or deportation, and we have lost only three of them.

These people are restaurant owners — employers. Some run small high tech start-ups; others raise children on their own, grouping with other parents to take care of them. They live under the constant fear of disruption to their lives and constant trepidation about whether their children will be separated from them. Many have been picked up for small offenses, like traffic violations and gone to jail only to luckily be released. But they have still have shown resilient courage, that miracle of guts that keeps them going inside the constant fear and the constant harassment. Immigrants are spiritual and economic blessings, not curses. They are assets, not deficits.

Immigration Reform — Working With Our Neighbors

For the past 19 years I’ve worked and lived in inner city East Dallas among very poor individuals and families. CitySquare, the faith-based non-profit that I lead, last year served more than 50,000 different individuals. We work hand-in-hand with low-income people to see life improved and turned toward real, lasting, legitimate opportunity. Our day-to-day work involves hunger relief and nutrition improvement, health care delivery, wellness programs, legal services, housing options, workforce training and job placement, public policy initiatives, and community organizing. It has been in this dynamic context that we’ve become very involved in advocating for comprehensive immigration reform.

Over half of our friends and neighbors who come through our doors seeking a better life are undocumented residents. Since our entire approach to the community is based on building strong, personal connections and relationships across and beyond the typical barriers of income, gender, race, and religion, we’ve become very aware of the plight, the needs, and the rights of our immigrant friends. Tens of thousands of residents of the Dallas metro area need the relief that comprehensive immigration reform promises.

Discipleship and Strangers: A Cup of Cold Water

Cup of cold water, Gunnar Pippel / Shutterstock.com

Cup of cold water, Gunnar Pippel / Shutterstock.com

During this time of Lent I’ve been meditating anew what it means to be a follower of Jesus. Interestingly, the only Gospel to contain the word ekklesia — church — is the Gospel of Matthew. Also in Matthew is an interesting take on the call of the disciples. Matthew 10 begins with the premise that as disciples we are all are potentially homeless in a world that has radically different values. Immediately after Jesus calls the 12 disciples, he warns them that they will be misunderstood, mistreated, and often on the road. Then Jesus gives a particular imperative for discipleship. I call it the “cup of cold water” discipleship test. Part of the discipleship marker is hospitality. A cup of cold water is a reprieve, a welcome, a new start.

A cup of cold water is the minimal requirement for what the Scripture calls hospitality or in the original language, xenophilia — love of the stranger. Jesus says that whoever gives a cup of cold water to these nomadic disciples will not fail to receive their reward. Hospitality is a Christian virtue. The writer of the book of Hebrews reminds us, “Do not forget to show hospitality to strangers for some have entertained angels unaware.”

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