Immigration

Called to Welcome the Stranger

Isaac Villegas, photo courtesy NC Council of Churches

Isaac Villegas, photo courtesy NC Council of Churches

Many people in our country say that their Christian faith is a significant force in their lives. I am one of those people. As I listen to my sisters and brothers in the church discuss immigration legislation, I wonder why our faith hasn’t lead us into a way of life that defuses this contentious debate. 

If, as Christians claims, the story of the Bible is important to us, then we shouldn’t be so worried about foreigners; we shouldn’t be so afraid of immigrants.

Protesters March as SCOTUS Hears SB 1070 Arguments

Clergy lead Jericho March around Supreme Court James Colten / Sojourners

Clergy lead Jericho March around Supreme Court. James Colten / Sojourners

I participated the Jericho March for people of faith, organized by the New Sanctuary Movement of New York. We walked the half mile loop around the Supreme Court in silence, praying for a society that builds up justice and dignity. The tough part about this morning was dealing with “the others.”

SCOTUS Hears Immigration Arguments

The future of Arizona’s immigration law, and by extension the laws in a number of other states modeled on it, was argued before the Supreme Court this morning. While it’s always dangerous to read too much into the questioning during the oral argument, early news reports indicate that the justices were sympathetic  to the provision allowing police officers to check the immigration status of people who are arrested or otherwise detained.

According to the Associated Press: 

"Liberal and conservative justices reacted skeptically to the Obama administration's argument that the state exceeded its authority when it made the records check, and another provision allowing suspected illegal immigrants to be arrested without a warrant, part of the Arizona law aimed at driving illegal immigrants elsewhere."

The Court’s decision is expected in June, and could become an important issue in the presidential election campaign.

Key stories are HEREHERE, and HERE.

Arizona's Immigration Legislation Undermines Christian Values

Jonathan Gibby/Getty Images

A group of protesters opposed SB 1070 at a vigil at the Arizona state Capitol. Jonathan Gibby/Getty Images

Today, the Supreme Court is hearing a case about the constitutionality of Arizona’s anti-immigrant legislation, SB 1070. It will be months before the case is decided but a broad spectrum of the Christian community already has their minds made up. 

This legislation is not just ethically bankrupt but undermines basic Christian values and American ideals. The court will decide whether it is legal, but it is already clear it isn’t moral.  

We are both evangelical Christians. One of us is white and one of us Hispanic. It is our common faith commitment, not the color of our skin, that unite us on the need for comprehensive immigration reform and in opposition to patchwork punitive legislation like we have seen in states like Arizona and Alabama. 

See It, Say It: The Supreme Court Should Strike Down SB 1070

United Church of Christ/Jessie Palatucci

Faith leaders speak at the 48-hour prayer vigil leading up to the SB 1070 hearing. United Church of Christ/Jessie Palatucci

“See it, say it.”

We’re urged, these days, to be vigilant. I’m alert to this when taking the subway in Washington, D.C., where loudspeakers remind riders that if they “see it, say it.” Speak up, we’re told, if we see a threat.

When the government wants me to be vigilant, I expect no less from the government. That’s why, this week, I’m one of many Americans hoping that the Supreme Court will strike down Arizona’s extreme anti-immigration law, SB 1070.

Faith Leaders Target Alabama's Immigration Bill With Ad

Yesterday, a diverse group of faith leaders in Alabama released a television ad targeting Alabama's HB 56 -- the worst anti-immigrant law in the country.

The 30-second ad features Rev. Steve Jones, senior pastor at Southside Baptist Church in Birmingham.

''We believe in reaching out and ministering to our community. Yet under Alabama's immigration law, we could be prosecuted for following God's call to be good Samaritans,” Jones says in the ad.

Watch:

BREAKING: ICE Arrests 3,100

This just in from the Associated Press:

"The Obama administration said Monday it arrested more than 3,100 immigrants who were illegally in the country and who were convicted of serious crimes or otherwise considered fugitives or threats to national security. It was part of a six-day nationwide sweep that the government described as the largest of its kind."

The sweep involved more than 1,900 U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement officers and agents. According to ICE, more than 1,000 of the people arrested had multiple criminal convictions. The totals included an estimated 50 gang members and 149 convicted sex offenders, other serious offenses included murder, manslaughter, drug trafficking and sexual crimes against minors. It appears to be a response to earlier suggestions that ICE would not vigorously pursue immigrants who are veterans, elderly, lived in the U.S. since they were children, or have relatives who are citizens of legal residents.

Pastor Who Granted Sanctuary Releases 'Why Am I a Deportation Priority?' Video

The Rev. Seth Kaper-Dale, pastor of the Reformed Church of Highland Park in Newark, NJ, has been advocating for Indonesian immigrants in his congregation.

After years of living in the United States, a large group of immigrants—many of whom escaped religious persecution at home—is being threatened with deportation. Some have already been deported. One, Saul Timisela, has taken sanctuary in the church.

Refugee Finds His Own Church ‘Sanctuary’

The mix of the modern and the medieval in the life of restricted life of Saul Timisela is dizzying.

Global positioning satellites track every move the Indonesian immigrant makes while he seeks refuge in a church, claiming the centuries-old right of sanctuary from the reach of secular authority — in his case, the federal Bureau of Immigration and Customs Enforcement.

To ICE spokesman Harold Ort, Timisela is an "immigration fugitive" who's trying to avoid deportation. But to the Rev. Seth Kaper-Dale, pastor of the Reformed Church of Highland Park, Timisela is "walking with Christ into a conflict with power."

Misguided Encouragement Leads to Deportation of Indonesian Immigrant

Keep Indonesian Families Together, photo via Reformed Church of Highland Park

Keep Indonesian Families Together, photo via Reformed Church of Highland Park

The day before the Rev. Seth Kaper-Dale was supposed to meet with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) officials, a tragedy occurred — one more Indonesian immigrant from his congregation was deported.

Like many of his fellow Christian brothers and sister who arrived in the United States in the late 90's and early 2000's, Ferdy Warouf fled Indonesia because of a rise in Islamic extremism that threatened the lives of the Indonesian Christian community.

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