Immigration

Stephen Mattson 1-25-2017

For the last few years Christians have been singing worship songs that include lyrics like “ keep my eyes above the waves, when oceans rise …” and yet have rejected refugees who’ve seen loved ones die beneath waves, who themselves have literally struggled to keep from drowning in oceans. Those American Christians — particularly white evangelicals — continue to sing the words: “Spirit lead me where my trust is without borders …” but fail to realize the shameful irony that they’re largely responsible for refusing shelter and opportunity to some of the world’s most helpless and oppressed people.

The Clifton Mosque in Cincinnati, Ohio. Photo courtesy of Creative Commons

A Cincinnati area mosque announced it would join the burgeoning church sanctuary movement in the U.S., possibly becoming the first Islamic house of worship to do so.

The announcement came on the eve of the inauguration of President Donald J. Trump, who took a hard-line stance on immigration and proposed a national Muslim registry during his campaign.

Image via RNS/Creative Commons

Religion is increasingly viewed as highly politicized, not least due to the way that it is frequently covered in the newsNumerous studies have shown that news stories with emotional cues tend to both gain audience attention and prolong audience engagement.

It may therefore come as no surprise that online debates about religion are packed with emotional cues that evoke strong reactions from those who participate in them. This sets the stage for passionate online debates.

Patricia Byrne 12-21-2016

I see you but you do not see me
I am made invisible by your special powers
Not mine. I have no power.
Your shiny car passes me
It does not have a speck of dirt
But I am filthy
Only my sweat shines at the bus stop
As it did today in the fields
I smell like dirt
I know you are not hungry
Because I see you in your red car
Driving to a fancy restaurant
You do not know I am hungry
Because you cannot see me
I had no lunch today
My belly hurts
But you cannot hear my emptiness
You only hear the music in your car
I see you but you do not see me
Perhaps all of me was left
In the woods where I slept last night
Or maybe the mosquitoes sucked my life away
One by one as they found me on the ground
Because I had no blanket to cover me So I itch. They saw me though you do not.
I dream of home. My mother and my sisters
Hungry, waiting for the money I will send for food.
“America ... you will make lots of money
Our stomachs will be full
And your sisters will have shoes”
I hope my boss pays me this week
I look at my boots
These boots took me 15 days through the desert
Now they will bring me through the fields
And I wonder ...
Is it the car that makes me invisible
Because I see you but
You do not see me

the Web Editors 12-02-2016

Currently there are an estimated 300 sanctuary states, counties, and cities across the U.S., but no model for sanctuary campuses. Calls for sanctuary campuses began in the wake of Donald Trump’s campaign pledges to repeal DACA and escalate deportations.

David Beltrán 11-23-2016

Image via JP Keenan/Sojourners

This idyllic immigrant story, that has become cliché in conversations of the “good” immigrant, shattered two weeks ago. I woke up to the fact that white America does not care about the well-being of my community. I woke up to the stench of white supremacy, which tells me that I will never be good enough to be fully American. I woke up in tears, because my dear friends who are undocumented immigrants, by no fault of their own, will suffer immensely under a Trump administration. I woke up longing to speak Spanish, to eat a whole Bandeja Paisa, and to feel what home feels like. I finally awoke to the reality that my brown body is a roadblock in white people’s project of making America great again.

Image via RNS/Reuters/Mike Segar

Americans voted largely along the lines of race, education, and party identification. Nonwhites strongly preferred Clinton, while whites decisively chose Trump. Compared with past Republicans, the businessman received a stunning surge of votes from non-college-educated white voters.

None of this is surprising.

And yet the result upends so much conventional wisdom. 

The Editors 11-02-2016
Everett Historical / Shutterstock

Everett Historical / Shutterstock

Gimme Shelter

I was glad to see “Convicted of the Gospel” by Darlene Nicgorski included in the September/October issue. The “ministry of sanctuary” that she mentioned is an important and timely way to show the world we are Christians through our love. I have been lobbying my members of Congress and letting them know why my faith motivates my advocacy. The faith voice is crucial to immigration reform’s success and is necessary if we want any reforms to reflect our beliefs in human dignity, equality, and justice. I hope that the church around the country will join in the sanctuary movement, whether it is through advocacy, charity, or sheltering those who face the immediate threat of deportation.

Thomas Cassidy
Norman, Oklahoma

Base Values

You cannot reform the police state or our culture of incarceration (“Black and Blue,” by Ryan Hammill, September/October 2016) without a critique of our country’s values that proliferate fear and aggression. It’s how we were built and how we’ve sustained our way of life. Until then, taxpayers need to demand transparency from law enforcement, stop the flow of tax dollars to militarize them, and advocate for laws to protect citizens—especially citizens of color.

Tamara Cedre
via Facebook

Prophets On the Loose

I read about the Tennessee weapons plant protest (“An 82-Year-Old Nun Did What?” by Rosalie Riegle, September/October 2016) in the news when it happened. I appreciate the update. I did not know that the “prophets of Oak Ridge” were released. Few realize the danger we all face; nuclear war cannot be allowed to happen. Pray for peace and the destruction of these weapons.

Jim Halliday
Lafayette, Georgia

Image via RNS/Reuters/Osservatore Romano

Even by this pope’s standards it was a bold move.

Francis, the spiritual leader of more than a billion Roman Catholics across the globe, this week traveled to Sweden, one of the most secularized countries in Europe, to take part in events marking 500 years since Martin Luther kickstarted the Protestant Reformation.

Sabia Rigby 10-26-2016

Demolition begins in 'the Jungle.' Image via Alexandra Vuillard.

I am nervous for everyone. There is so much misinformation; the refugees of the Jungle and other camps like Isberg hear differing reports, which they then share among themselves. Tensions are growing because we, too, are given limited information, and can’t guarantee anything.

Would you trust someone who cannot give you any guarantees?

Stephen Mattson 10-13-2016

How can salvation be believed when we refuse to save refugees, or hope grasped when we deny it to immigrants, or justice pursued when we refuse it to the oppressed, or faith accepted when we don’t have faith in those different from us, or love known when we deny it to our neighbors, strangers, and even our enemies?

Karen Gonzalez 9-22-2016

Image via /Shutterstock.com

As an immigrant woman and a Christian, I’ve loved the book of Ruth ever since I realized Ruth was an immigrant, welcomed into the family of God. And I’ve often been surprised by the interpretations of the Biblical story, in which Boaz is the hero and no one else has any agency. I find this odd because, as I read Ruth, what I see is that Boaz did nothing more heroic than exactly what was required by God’s law: He welcomed an immigrant from a neighboring community.

Image via Steve Pavey/Hope in Focus.

It has been a year since immigrant mothers made the impressive pilgrimage on foot from an immigrant detention center in Pennsylvania to the political seat of power in Washington, D.C. On Sept. 16, the women of last year’s 100 Women 100 Miles pilgrimage returned to the steps of the Supreme Court — singing, chanting, and praying for justice and mercy in the immigration system. Then, as part of an event organized by We Belong Together and The National Domestic Workers Alliance, they retraced a portion of their steps — a scaled-down anniversary pilgrimage, from the Supreme Court to the White House.

Maria-Jose Soerens 9-16-2016

Image via /Shutterstock.com

Four weeks ago many of us celebrated the news that the Department of Justice plans to end its use of for-profit prisons. But we then had to wrestle with the fact that this means nothing for migrant detention, which is the largest supplier of prison contracts for GEO and CCA — the top two corporations behind for-profit detention of immigrants of all ages: from babies to the elderly.

From the border. Image via John Dorhauer. 

We can no longer turn a blind eye to what profit margins do to prisoners, more and more of whom are from vulnerable populations. We are called to dismantle the corrupt justice system of mass incarceration. Ending private prison profiteering is a critical step towards restorative justice for all.

9-02-2016

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Contact: Michael Mershon, Director of Advocacy and Communications

Phone: 202-745-4654

Email: mmershon@sojo.net 

September 2, 2016

Faith leaders from different traditions condemn Trump’s immigration platform as immoral and an affront to the values of sacred texts

David Beltrán 9-01-2016

Image via /Shutterstock.com

On Aug. 29, Secretary of Homeland Security Jeh Johnson announced that his department (which includes ICE) would also review the contracts of private companies contracted in its detention facilities. He cited the DOJ’s recent decision as a contributing factor to this investigation. We can only hope that their review will discover the inefficacies of private detention centers and prioritize the treatment of immigrants in their facilities.

Private prisons place profits over people, and I call on the DHS to end this inhumane practice, so that stories like my uncles do not repeat themselves.

the Web Editors 9-01-2016

image via tumblr / MAERIL

A young artist by the name of Maeril created a fantastic comic for anyone witnessing islamophobic harassment in public. It was published on her Tumblr and later on Facebook through her work with The Middle Eastern Feminist. 

Darlene Nicgorski 7-26-2016
Chad Zuber / Shutterstock

Chad Zuber / Shutterstock

ON MAY 1, 1986, a federal jury found nine church activists guilty of conspiracy to violate U.S. immigration laws for assisting Central American refugees. At our sentencing, I faced a possible 25-year prison sentence.

The “sanctuary trial” drew national attention; millions of Americans learned about the plight of Central American refugees and the church-led sanctuary movement to aid them. After a seven-month trial and our conviction, the judge suspended our sentence and gave us five years of probation.

In the 1980s, our case hinged on the fact that we knew that those arriving over the southern border were refugees from brutal wars in Guatemala and El Salvador. I had worked in Guatemala and in Guatemalan camps in southern Mexican. We placed refugees in communities of faith where people met them as real people and learned why they had fled. We defied U.S. immigration laws in order to protect life. We also challenged the Reagan administration’s support of brutal regimes in Guatemala and El Salvador.

Today, most of the non-Mexican undocumented immigrants coming over the border are from Guatemala, El Salvador, and Honduras. Many are unaccompanied minors or single adults with children. Many have legitimate asylum cases, but don’t have adequate legal representation.

The new sanctuary movement is addressing four key areas: First, assisting migrants when they arrive with basic needs and legal help. Diocesan Migrant Refugee Services in El Paso, Texas, is the largest provider of “Know Your Rights” information to refugees, particularly those staying in community-run hospitality houses along the border. Without the assistance of volunteers, usually church-affiliated, migrants would be on their own—or worse, detained in for-profit prisons.

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