Immigration

New & Noteworthy

Fresh Vintage

Cody ChesnuTT's Landing on a Hundred is a classic soul album, from the infectious grooves and vocals to recurrent themes of personal and social redemption (comparisons include Marvin Gaye and Curtis Mayfield). Vibration Vineyard

Reclaimed Voices

A team of actors, playwrights, and activists help Ugandan teens, many of them survivors of abduction by the Lord's Resistance Army, courageously share their stories with their community—and, through the documentary After Kony: Staging Hope, with the world. First Run Feature

Exile and Welcome

In Kind of Kin, by Rilla Askew, a rural Oklahoma family finds itself torn from within and without when its patriarch is arrested for harboring undocumented immigrants in his barn. Sometimes heart-rending, sometimes laugh-out-loud funny, this novel deftly explores issues of faith, family, immigration, and economic hardship in the heartland. Ecco

Defiant Prayer

The Last Segregated Hour: The Memphis Kneel-ins and the Campaign for Southern Church Desegregation, by Stephen R. Haynes, tells an inspiring, lesser-known story of the civil rights era: the 1964-65 campaign by groups of white and black students to challenge segregation in local churches. Oxford

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A New Year

vintage vectors / Shutterstock
New Year Poster Background. vintage vectors / Shutterstock

At Sojourners, people are just getting back from their holiday breaks with their families and some will still be out this week. D.C. public schools don’t even start until next week for my two boys.

Of course, members of the Senate and the House of Representatives came back early to avoid sending the nation off of the “fiscal cliff.” For the first time in two decades, taxes were increased for the wealthiest two percent, something most Americans support. And programs the Circle of Protection seeks to protect for the most vulnerable, including important tax credits that have kept millions of Americans out of poverty, were kept safe in the final deal.

The legislators barely succeeded in coming to a compromise but largely avoided the more challenging issues of the automatic spending cuts known as “sequestration” and an agreement on long-term deficit reduction.  The compromise delayed the sequester for two months, which means it will kick in around the same time as an anticipated debt ceiling fight in which Republicans say they will force the nation into default unless they get the spending cuts they want. 

As reflected in this deal, I applaud the President's continued commitment to protect poor and vulnerable people. I encourage him to remain steadfast in his refusal to negotiate. However, it remains to be seen whether the President will continue on in his refusal to negotiate on such important matters with those risking our nation’s economic health to advance their own political ideology.

New rule makes residency easier for immigrants with U.S. kin

An estimated one million undoumented immigrants with American citizens as immediate relatives will now be separated from their families for shortened amounts of time while they apply to become legal residents. The Los Angeles Times reports:

Beginning Mar. 4, illegal immigrants who can demonstrate that time apart from an American spouse, child, or parent would create "extreme hardship" can apply for a visa without leaving the United States. Once approved, applicants would be required to leave briefly in order to return to their native country and pick up their visa.

Read more here.

Immigration Reform: Is 'Amnesty' a Possibility?

The diverse coalition that re-elected Barak Obama has pushed immigration reform to the top of the 2013 agenda. The Christian Science Monitor reports:

The shift in the political conversation has been so dramatic that even a pathway to citizenship for some of the estimated 12 million undocumented immigrants in the United States – long rejected out of hand by most Republicans and some Democrats – could be part of the deal.

Read more here.

10 (More) Reasons to Support Immigration Reform

There are many reasons to support comprehensive immigration reform. As Christians, we point to the biblical call to welcome the stranger and love our neighbors as top reasons for our support. We refer to the God-given dignity of each person, acknowledging that God created and loves each person, regardless of their immigration status.

But it helps to remember that there are significant economic and political gains to be had, as well. A Politico poll shows that nearly two-thirds of Americans support comprehensive reform. As we push on our political leaders to make a decision this year, here are some of the other arguments we can use, as described in a recent article on Think Progress:

1. Legalizing the 11 million undocumented immigrants in the United States would boost the nation’s economy.

2. Tax revenues would increase.

3. Harmful state immigration laws are damaging state economies.

4. A path to citizenship would help families access health care.

5. U.S. employers need a legalized workforce.

6. In 2011, immigrant entrepreneurs were responsible for more than one-in-four new U.S. businesses.

7. Letting undocumented immigrants gain legal status would keep families together.

8. Young undocumented immigrants would add billions to the economy if they gained legal status.

9. And DREAMers would boost employment and wages.

10. Significant reform of the high-skilled immigration system would benefit certain industries that require high-skilled workers.

Read the article for a full explanation of each item.

Most Americans Support Path to Earned Citizenship

With discussions looming about the Obama Administration’s supposed efforts to aggressively push for comprehensive immigration reform early next year, its important now more than ever to know where the public stands.

A recent POLITICO/George Washington University poll shows that most Americans support a pathway to citizenship for the millions of undocumented immigrants in this country.

“The national poll, conducted last week, finds more Republicans — 49 percent — support a path to citizenship than oppose it — 45 percent. Democrats favor this approach 3-to-1, 74 percent to 24 percent. And independents back it by a 26-point margin, 61 percent to 35 percent.”

 So what does this support mean for immigration reform? Read more here.

5 Republicans Who Matter on Immigration

Post fiscal-cliff, both President Obama and the Congress are expected to take on comprehensive immigraiton reform. Politico discusses the influential Republicans who will insert themselves into the debate.

Politico reports:

They lack the stature of the Big Three Republicans in the immigration reform debate: Marco Rubio, John McCain and Lindsey Graham.

But just below that senatorial trio, there’s another group of lesser-known GOP lawmakers expected to play an outsize role — both within the party and negotiating with Democrats — as Congress delves into an issue that could consume much of its bandwidth next year.

Read more here.

RGIII and Some Tibs

 Jonathan Newton / The Washington Post via Getty Images
Redskins QB RGIII outruns N.Y. Giants linebacker Mathias Kiwanuka. Jonathan Newton / The Washington Post via Getty Images

We had literally just paid for our food. It was some takeout place without any seating close to our hotel that the front desk had recommended as the only place still open. I walked outside to enjoy the crisp evening D.C. air, quite different from the still-tepid Arizona evenings we had just left. Next door to the take-out place was a lively dive full of guys deeply invested in the soon-to-end Redskins/Giants game on Monday Night Football. The neon sign in the glass glowed "open." I told my buddy we had made a serious mistake on our dinner choice. Tyler replied, "I already paid, man." "Go and get your money back," I pushed. He said I was more the type to go insult the nice woman behind the counter and cancel our order. It turns out he was right.

Inside the new place, we settled down to a few beers and ordered some finger foods to watch the rest of the football game. Nobody cared that Robert Griffin III was playing a below-average game. You could tell these guys had watched this team before without a good quarterback and now with one - a seriously good one — he would get a pass. The Redskins converted on third down. RGIII could take a knee. The room went nuts.

It was a friendly place; the locals allowed us to be fans with them. The owner came up and brought a little extra food on the house. All told, it was a great American night: Friendly football fans at their favorite neighborhood dive, where everybody knows your name, treating the new guy like your childhood pal. You could imagine the Founding Fathers smiling down upon us.

Except Tyler and I were likely the only native-born dudes in the room. Everybody was cheering on the Redskins in Amharic while we ate injera, tibs, and wat with our fingers and drank St. George Lager. A picture of Haile Selassie and JFK together in a town car framed the wall. I love tibs.

Conservatives, Progressives Call for Action on Immigration Reform

Photo by Jack Gordon, jackontheroad.com
JIm Wallis speaks at the Forging Consensus press conference on Dec. 4. Photo by Jack Gordon / jackontheroad.com

Today, both progressive and conservative leaders from the business, law enforcement, and faith communities came together in Washington, D.C., during the two-day National Strategy Session to launch a new consensus around immigration reform.

Leaders launched the event with a press conference highlighting our broken immigration system — which affects all sectors of society — and urged immigration reform in 2013 that includes legalization and path towards citizenship.

The Waiting

Photo: People waiting, © phototr  / Shutterstock.com
Photo: People waiting, © phototr / Shutterstock.com

As I write, I'm stuck in the Central Wisconsin Airport (near the bustling metropolis of Wausau, Wis., for those keeping score at home). And, you guessed it, I'm waiting. Fog in Minneapolis prevented our plane from landing there, and now I'm left sitting in a very small regional airport with no restaurant and no coffee and no concrete sense of what the rest of my day will look like as I make my way to California. All I can do is wait.

I do know, barring something entirely unexpected, that I'll eventually make it to San Francisco. Right now I'm living the axiom offered by Tom Petty decades ago: "The Waiting is the Hardest Part."

Advent, a season during which Christians honor and attempt to approximate the longing for a Messiah more than 2,000 years ago, is often described as a chance to exercise our patience muscles. Advent can serve as a season of anticipation and hope and longing, void of desperation. This is Advent for those who already have most of that for which they wait. But for countless people around the globe, every additional day of waiting comes with a heavy price.

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