Immigrant

One in the Lord

MULTIRACIAL CHURCHES are becoming more common in this country—but that doesn’t happen by chance.

A 2010 study by the Hartford Institute for Religion Research, based on a random sample of more than 11,000 congregations, revealed an increase in multiracial congregations in the U.S.—30 percent of churches reported that more than half of their members were part of minority groups.

Members of three multiracial churches in and near the nation’s capital—one Catholic, one Methodist, and one nondenominational—say that at their church “people don’t look the same, or think that much about it,” and describe their congregations as welcoming places “where you can feel God’s presence, where you can be yourself.”

Though Sunday worship time is still known as “the most segregated hour in America,” older members of churches such as Peace Fellowship Church in Washington, D.C., St. Camillus Catholic Church in Silver Spring, Md., and Culmore United Methodist Church in Falls Church, Va., remember when things started changing. As migration and demographic shifts altered neighborhoods and communities, members sought to engage in “desegregated” worship, opting to join communities that mirrored a world with different cultures and ways to praise God.

Reconciling Divisions
Dave Cho, a Korean-American who started attending Peace Fellowship Church in 2008 with his family, said he felt welcomed by Dennis Edwards, the founding pastor.

“Rev. Edwards’ philosophy is to reach out to people on the margins,” Cho said. “We didn’t know anybody. About 60 percent [of the congregants] were African American. We didn’t have much in common other than our faith.”

Faith was enough. Even though Peace Fellowship, a small, nondenominational community in the Deanwood neighborhood of Washington, D.C., did not set out to be a multiracial church, it welcomes everyone.

Read the Full Article

​You've reached the end of our free magazine preview. For full digital access to Sojourners articles for as little as $2.95, please subscribe now. Your subscription allows us to pay authors fairly for their terrific work!
Subscribe Now!

I Am the Immigrant

Bronwyn Lea want to trade her visa for a permanent residency green card.

Bronwyn Lea wants to trade her visa for a permanent residency green card.

I am a card-carrying alien. Literally.

I have an official alien number, assigned to me by the United States Citizenship and Immigration Service.

After nearly 10 years in the U.S., my husband and I have spent hundreds of hours and thousands of dollars on paperwork and travel to keep our visas current. We have been retina scanned and fingerprinted; we have submitted exhausting and exhaustive records of every job we’ve ever held, every school we ever studied at, and the names and addresses of every person we are related to.

Now, with three children born in the U.S. (call them anchor babies if you must), we don’t want alien cards anymore. We want green cards. We want to be allowed to stay permanently in the country where our children are, without fear that we will find ourselves with no legal purchase in the country where our kids live.

But applying for permanent residency is a lot tougher than you might think.

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 Court: Broken but Fixable

zimmytws / Shutterstock

"Judges court gavel and US passport." zimmytws / Shutterstock

"A photograph of bikini-clad pop superstar Katy Perry gets more legal protection in our courts than a Chinese rice farmer trying to avoid deportation back to a totalitarian regime that may kill him."

As a journalist I covered state and federal civil and criminal cases for more than 30 years and only occasionally did I find myself in the U.S. Immigration courts. So when I read California attorney Peter Afrasiabi's book, Show Trials: How Property Gets More Legal Protection in Our Failed Immigration System, I found his comparison to the laws protecting property rights to the immigration laws particularly alarming.

Afrasiabi's book is an eye-opening account of his personal experiences as a lawyer representing men, women and children — families — in some of the most confounding cases one can imagine.

Although the names of his clients have been changed to protect their identities, Afrasiabi bases his analysis of the failure of the immigration system on actual cases that he personally handled.

Immigration Leaders Gather to Discuss Need for Reform

Photo: Katrina Brown / Shutterstock.com

Photo: Katrina Brown / Shutterstock.com

Last week, I attended the 9th Annual Immigration Law and Policy Conference at Georgetown University Law Center, where a number of senior government officials, policy experts, academics, and advocates discussed one of the most paralyzing issues of our time —immigration.  

As each panelist attempted to provide their thoughtful legal and policy analysis on a number of issues like immigration enforcement, the federal government’s responsibility on immigration policy, and litigation developments, the differences in opinion between the speakers quickly emerged, even though there was consensus that immigration reform is significantly needed in our country. 

Many agreed that the issue of immigration is of staggering complexity. The solution that is developed by the federal government must be a conglomeration of multifaceted mechanisms that address the brokenness of our current system at the policy, legal, and administrative level. This comprehensive solution must also be a clear reflection of the historical context we currently live in since it’s not in our best interest to use an outdated system from the past as an exemplary model for the future. 

Join a Circle of Protection on Nov. 16: Standing For and With the Poor

The New York City Human Circle will be replicated throughout across the nation, when faith leaders host Human Circles as members of the Sojourners National Mobilizing Circle, which is bringing together faith and community leaders to organize faith-rooted actions in their communities.

The purpose of these circles is not only to lobby for the poor but also with them.

Jim Wallis and Richard Land: Join the Great Conversation

People of faith -- including evangelical Christians -- will be voting both ways in the upcoming election. It is simply not true that they will be voting only on one or two issues.

And, if evangelicals focus on many of the issues central to their faith, rather than becoming partisan cheerleaders, they might be able to raise some critical issues in this election and to hold both sides more accountable, even in a campaign that both Richard and I suspect will be one of the ugliest in U.S. history.

At the end of the evening, Amy remarked that if the upcoming election debates were as civil and substantive as this evening was, we would all be very grateful.

News: Morning Quick Links

Social justice index: USA No. 27 of 31. Democrats in Congress attempt to eat on $4.50 a day to protest potential budget cuts. Republicans shift focus from jobs to God. OpEd: Obama, the G20 and the 99 percent. In Congress, the rich get richer. The Shadow Superpower. And the U.S. sues South Carolina over immigration law.

Pages

Subscribe