Immigration

Janelle Tupper 5-31-2013
 Janelle Tupper / Sojourners

Sr. Simone Campbell and other 'Nuns on the Bus' greet rally attendees in D.C. Janelle Tupper / Sojourners

The Nuns on the Bus stopped by Washington, D.C., this week, and Sojourners staffers were on hand to return high fives and listen to speeches from the sisters and leaders in the labor movement. This was just one stop on the national bus tour in support of comprehensive immigration reform. The traveling sisters are encouraging people across the country to raise hands and voices in support of faith, family, and citizenship.

Check out the photos of the Nuns on the Bus’ visit. We’ll be praying for the sisters as they continue their journey!

Janelle Tupper 5-31-2013
Pandora booth, by Niallkennedy / Flickr.com

Pandora booth, by Niallkennedy / Flickr.com

FAIR’s recent ad campaigns have attempted to whip up fear and hatred for immigrants by claiming that they will steal jobs from working Americans. This kind of thinking has been debunked numerous times – immigrants contribute to the economy and help start small businesses.

Pandora radio has 70 million users listening 1.31 billion hours each month. That’s a lot of people who were hearing ads based on fear rather than facts.

Along with other groups, Sojourners contacted Pandora and asked them to stop playing these ads. We understand that everyone has the right to say what they want – free speech – but we’re glad that civil society and consumers can put pressure on companies to limit the amount of harmful speech we hear every day.

Pandora has ended the relationship* after reviewing FAIR’s record. Thousands of Sojourners readers signed a petition asking them not to accept hateful ads in the future, and donated to help Sojourners run ads with positive messages highlighting the contributions immigrants make to our communities and their inherent dignity as human beings created in God’s image.

QR Blog Editor 5-30-2013

Researchers at Harvard Medical School found immigrants contributed $115 billion to the Medicare Trust Fund over a seven-year period. In 2009 alone, immigrants contributed $13.9 billion more to Medicare than they used. The report encouraged allowing legal status for undocumented immigrants to help offset health care costs in America. USA Today reports:

"The assumption that immigrants are just a drain has been a part of the argument that people should be denied services," said Leah Zallman, lead researcher and an instructor at Harvard Medical School. "Immigration policy has been closely linked to Medicare's finances."

Read more here.

RNS photo by David Gibson

Sister Simone Campbell, head of the social justice lobby Network, in New Jersey Wednesday. RNS photo by David Gibson

With the Statue of Liberty as a backdrop, the “Nuns on the Bus” on Wednesday kicked off a national tour for immigration reform aimed at giving a faith-based push to legislation that’s now hanging in the balance in Congress.

“We have got to make this an urgent message of now,” Sister Simone Campbell, head of the social justice lobby Network, which organized the tour, told a rally on the New Jersey side of the Hudson River.

“The next six to eight weeks is going to determine what we can accomplish,” Campbell said as she pointed to nearby Ellis Island, the American gateway for generations of immigrants. “The time is now for immigration reform.”

Champions of immigration reform believe they have their best opportunity to pass a comprehensive overhaul since 2007, when an effort backed by President George W. Bush was thwarted by members of his own party. After Republicans lost the Latino vote in last fall’s elections, GOP leaders said they would be open to an immigration bill that they think could help change that political dynamic.

Jim Wallis 5-23-2013
U.S. Capitol Building, Gary Blakeley / Shutterstock.com

U.S. Capitol Building, Gary Blakeley / Shutterstock.com

What I have heard after visiting 18 cities in six weeks is that people around the country believe that nothing can happen in Washington, D.C. They are basically right. So I am very grateful today to report the one exception.

On Tuesday, the Senate Judiciary Committee approved a new comprehensive immigration reform bill with a bipartisan vote. Did you hear that: “bipartisan.” Amid heartbreaking news of the destruction, grief, and heroism we have seen in Moore, Okla., from one of the worst tornados in American history, millions of Americans found a reason to be hopeful.

This historic immigration bill now goes to the full Senate, where it has a real chance of passing and changing the lives of 11 million aspiring Americans. These are the “strangers” talked about throughout the Bible, and about whom Jesus said, in Matthew 25: how we treat them is how we treat him. That realization has caused a literal biblical conversion in the evangelical Christian community, which with the help of law enforcement officials and business leaders has done the impossible — changed Washington, D.C.

Self-interests, special interests, and even conflicting principles all put this life-changing proposal in grave danger. But in a town defined by gridlock, a group of eight senators crafted a bipartisan proposal that passed with only minor change. The bill reflects agreements reached by the AFL-CIO and Chamber of Commerce; imagine that. It isn’t perfect and no single legislator got everything she or he wanted, but the key elements that many of us have been fighting for are intact. That really is a triumph of the common good.

Now, I am asking you to write your senators and ask them to support this bill on the Senate floor.

Ivone Guillen 5-22-2013
From the Evangelical Immigration Table

From the Evangelical Immigration Table

On May 2, the Evangelical Immigration Table launched its 92 day Pray4Reform Challenge. They sent a letter to Congress challenging decision makers to pass compassionate and fair immigration reform within 92 days. Throughout the 92 days, evangelical Christians across the country will be showing their support by engaging in thoughtful prayer to support their legislators.

As part of the challenge, the EIT is joining in the #iMarch and will be a part of an hour-long #Pray4Reform Twitter town hall. Evangelical leaders, including Sojourners' Jim Wallis (@JimWallis), will be tweeting and conversing with others in support of immigration reform from 4 p.m. to 5 p.m. eastern time. 

Christians countrywide also are being asked to join by signing up to be “prayer partners.” Each week during the challenge, they will receive an email or text with guidance on what prayer the Table is lifting up that week. Prayer partners are also encouraged to join the National Day of Prayer on May 30 by holding a dedicated time of prayer event in their communities.

Elaina Ramsey 5-20-2013

Araceli Rodriguez, mother of 16-year-old Jose Antonio Elena Rodriguez, shot last year. Photo courtesy Barry Gosling/Sojourners.

In March of this year, U.S. and Mexican citizens gathered together on both sides of the border fence to honor the memory of Jose Antonio Elena Rodriguez. Five months earlier, Rodriguez, of Nogales, Mexico, was shot seven times from behind by U.S. Border Patrol agents for allegedly throwing rocks over the 14-foot fence. He was only 16 years old — a young life caught in the crossfire of increased cross-border shootings.

Tucson, Ariz., residents Maryann and Barry Gosling were among those who participated in the bi-national vigil.

QR Blog Editor 5-15-2013

The House’s bipartisan immigration group is struggling to reach an agreement on immigration legislation. The group is divided over many aspects of the legislation including the employment verification program. Republicans want to eliminate the legalization process for undocumented immigrants if the employment verfiication program is not in place in five years. They are also divided over health care for undocumented immigrants and the number of visas to be issued to low-skilled or guest workers. Politico reports:

“I certainly will say that … there still are some outstanding issues in our negotiations,” House Democratic Caucus Chairman Xavier Becerra of California said in an interview Tuesday. “But I still believe that we’re so very close.”

Read more here.

QR Blog Editor 5-14-2013

The Gang of Eight is banding together across party lines to fend off attacks to the guest worker program in the immigration bill. Members of the gang have been working behind the scenes to ensure only amendments they support are proposed. This has upset Democrats and Republicans who feel the bipartisan coalition has too much power over the immigration bill. Politico reports:

"One of the things that most upsets the American people about Washington is drafting a bill with special interests in secret and jamming it across the finish line in a way that minimizes public involvement and input,” Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-Ala.) said recently. “This legislation needs improvement and openness.”

Read more here.
Julie Polter 5-11-2013

A Dog Walks into a Nursing Home: Lessons in the Good Life from an Unlikely Teacher by Sue Halpern / Kinship Across Borders: A Christian Ethic of Immigration by Kristin E. Heyer / Skipping Stones / In the Footprints of Francis and the Sultan: A Model for Peacemaking

Maryada Vallet 5-11-2013

Where the U.S. meets Mexico, rhetoric often gets in the way of the facts.

Matthew Skinner 5-10-2013
spirit of america / Shutterstock.com

Thousands gather to rally for immigration reform in Los Angeles, spirit of america / Shutterstock.com

We return to the benefits of connecting with others, and the dangers of allowing society to drift into one in which we count it too dangerous to trust.

Jesus’ prayer affirms this: I need other people. I do, if I want the chance to experience union with God and plunge into the heart of what God is about. And I don’t need only other people who are like me; love requires me to attend to a wider group. When I’m very different from someone else and yet we manage to live into an authentic unity supported by trust, we may gain a glimpse into God’s own wideness, perhaps discovering God to be more than we predicted.

For Jesus does not limit the venues for encountering God to churches and to groups of familiar people. What keeps it from being possible in public life, as well? It must be possible to encounter God there, given the world’s need to know God (verse 25) and God’s love for the world.

QR Blog Editor 5-09-2013

A study by the University of Southern California’s Center for the Study of Immigrant Integration used California as a microcosm to see how immigration reform would affect America. The study estimated that 7 percent of California residents were undocumented. In Los Angeles County the number jumped to 10 percent. Christian Science Monitor reports:

“What sticks out to me about this report is that it shows how many immigrants have been in the country more than 10 years that are not just migrants, and who have children born here who are naturalized citizens,” says Michael Moreland.

Read more here.

QR Blog Editor 5-09-2013

Conservatives have united around immigration reform. Over two dozen signed a statement supporting legislation to overhaul US immigration laws. They feel the current Senate legislation is a "importnat starting point." The Associated Press reports:

In a statement being released Thursday, the officials say: "Simply opposing immigration reform should not be the conservative response to this problem. We believe conservatives should be leading the way on this issue by supporting legislation that upholds conservative principles."

Read more here.

QR Blog Editor 5-09-2013

The Senate Judiciary Committee is holding a hearing at 9:30 a.m. to discuss the Gang of 8 immigration bill (S. 744). Aides say the hearing will focus on amendments to the bill that address border security.

Watch live here.

QR Blog Editor 5-08-2013

Republicans are pushing for stronger border security measures in the immigration bill. Stronger border security measures could win more Republican votes, but it would also alienate some democratic votes. The bill currently calls for the hiring of 3,500 more Customs and Border Protection agents and employ more border fencing, cameras, drones and radar systems to detect illegal crossings. The Los Angeles Times reports:

"If, in fact, the American people can't trust that the border is controlled, you're never going to be able to pass this bill," Sen. Tom Coburn of Oklahoma, the top Republican on the Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affair.

Read more here.

QR Blog Editor 5-07-2013

The Heritage Foundation released a study on Monday that estimate the bipartisan immigration proposal being considered in the Senate would cost U.S. taxpayers $6.3 trillion. Other conservative groups were quick to denounce the study for overlooking the role immgiatn workers would play in growing the economy. The Washington Post reports:

“The Heritage Foundation document is a political document. It’s not very serious analysis,” said former Mississippi governor Haley Barbour, a Republican who is involved in a bipartisan group that supports immigration law reform. “The study is designed to try to scare conservative Republicans into thinking the costs will be so gigantic you can’t possibly be for it.”

The study could determine the future of the immigration proposal and the success or failure of immigration reform. Conservatives help stop immgiration reform in 2007 but now in a different political climate, some are hopeful supporting immgiration reform will help with outreach to Latino and Asian American communities.

Read more here.

QR Blog Editor 5-06-2013

Now that the Senate's Gang of Eight has published its immigration proposal TIME has put together four hurdles to the bill becoming law.

Problem #1: Stalling tactics from the right. Conservatives may stall the bill calling for "more hearings, more transparency, more opportunities to tweak the legislation to their liking"

Problem #2: Pushback from the left. Immigrants rights groups feel the 13-year path to citizenship is too long and gay-rights advocates want greater protections fro same-sex couples.

Problem #3: The cost for taxpayers. The cost of immigration reform has not been officially calculated. Conservatives are touting a large price tag as a reason to derail the legislation.

Problem #4: The conservative media storyline. Conservative media remains split between those who support immigration reform out of "sheer political imperative" and those who hope to divide the Gang of Eight.

For more indepth explanations of each hurdle, click here.

QR Blog Editor 5-02-2013

A new Pew Research Center poll found fewer than half of Americans are very or fairly closely following the immigration debate. 38 percent have no opinion on the Senate mesaure recently intoduced by the "Gang of Eight." The lack of public engagement allows for both opponents and supporters to sway public opinion. The Washington Post reports:

A recent Washington Post-ABC News poll showed that nearly all of the big individual aspects of the “Gang of Eight” bill won majority support, a sign that proponents can have the potential for success in selling their measure. But given that most people 1) aren’t familiar with bill right now and 2) haven’t made up their minds about it as a package, there remains ample opportunity for opponents to strike.

Read more here.

Sandi Villarreal / Sojourners

Sr. Simone Campbell and other 'Nuns on the Bus' greet rally attendees in D.C., last year. Sandi Villarreal / Sojourners

NEW YORK — The “Nuns on the Bus” are revving up their engines for another national campaign, only this time the Catholic sisters are taking their mobile platform for social justice along the country’s Southern border to push Congress to pass immigration reform.

“The ‘Nuns on the Bus’ is going on the road again!” Sister Simone Campbell, head of the social justice lobby Network, told an enthusiastic gathering of faith leaders and charity activists at a Manhattan awards ceremony Wednesday (May 1).

“This time we’re going out for commonsense immigration reform,” she said to rousing applause.

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