Immigration

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.

New Citizenship Debate: In Vitro Babies

Mother and baby, emin kuliyev, Shutterstock.com

Mother and baby, emin kuliyev, Shutterstock.com

In a spin on the immigration debate, USA Today explores the murkiness of in vitro fertilization abroad. Americans who give birth outside the states via in vitro are required to prove at least one biological parent is a U.S. citizen.

The problem? In many in vitro cases, neither the sperm or the egg come from the parent.

"I was humiliated and horrified," Ellie Lavi, an American citizen who gave birth in Tel Aviv, told USA Today. "We're talking about the children I gave birth to. Of course they're my children."

Pastor Who Granted Sanctuary to Meet with ICE Officials

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

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

The Rev. Seth Kaper-Dale, a New Jersey pastor who granted sanctuary to an Indonesian immigrant, is scheduled to meet with a U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement public advocate on March 20.

But Kaper-Dale said he remains skeptical given the wording in the invitation.

“It’s an invitation to talk, but [says] ‘you’re breaking the law,’” he said.

Saul Timisela—who fled to the U.S. to escape religious persecution 14 years ago—has now lived in the Reformed Church of Highland Park in Newark, NJ for two weeks, avoiding deportation.

G92, Immigration Reform, and a Letter from a Birmingham Jail

1962. Photo by Ernst Haas/Getty Images.

The Rev. Martin Luther King Jr., surrounded by supporters at a rally in Birmingham, 1962. Photo by Ernst Haas/Getty Images.

February was Black History Month. I ended it by pressing for immigration reform in the birthplace of the Civil Rights Movement.

When I landed in Birmingham, Alabama two weeks ago, it struck me that I was on my way to Samford University — the flagship University of the Southern Baptist Convention (SBC). It struck me that the Southern Baptist Convention is the largest evangelical denomination in the country and among the most conservative. It struck me that Alabama used to boast that it had the harshest Jim Crow laws and law enforcement during the Civil Rights era. Now it boasts the harshest anti-immigrant law in the nation.

Passed into law on June 9, 2011, HB56 criminalizes Alabamans’ daily associations with immigrants who cannot prove their legal status. Giving an undocumented immigrant a ride can result in criminal arrest. The legislation also prohibits all businesses (including schools, the water company, and the telephone company among others) from conducting business transactions on any level with anyone who cannot prove their legal status. Tens of thousands of Latino families fled Alabama within weeks of the law’s passage. Businesses closed, schools lost huge percentages of their students, and vegetables were left to rot in the fields.

I was in Birmingham to speak at the G92 South Conference, a one-day conference for students and pastors hosted on Samford’s sprawling campus. G92 is a reference to the 92 times the Hebrew word Ger is used in the Bible. Ger means stranger or sojourner. The conference began last autumn at Cedarville University in Ohio. It is now being replicated on Christian college campuses across the country. Samford University was the second campus to agree to host the conference.

Fields of Denial

Photo by John Moore/Getty Images

Migrant workers pick parsley on a Colorado farm, 2011. Photo by John Moore/Getty Images

About every five years the Farm Bill addresses a broad set of food and agricultural policy issues. Commodity price supports, farm credit, trade, agricultural conservation, research, rural development, energy, and foreign and domestic food programs were just some of the issues included in the Food, Conservation, and Energy Act of 2008, as the last Farm Bill legislation was officially titled.

The Farm Bill is also known for the broad range of policy stakeholders who work on it, including state organizations, national farm groups, commodity associations, conservation advocates, rural development organizations, and faith-based groups.

But even with its inclusive set of policy issues and actors, the Farm Bill is notable for one issue policymakers and advocates doesn’t touch: People who work on farms.

Refugee Defies Deportation, Seeks Sanctuary at Church

American flag photo by Christopher Penler, Shutterstock.com.

HIGHLAND PARK, N.J. — Saul Timisela was ordered to report to U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement in Newark early on the morning of March 1 to be deported.

Instead, the Indonesian Christian took sanctuary at the Reformed Church of Highland Park, where the Rev. Seth Kaper-Dale is trying to save a group of Indonesian refugees who fled their country to escape religious persecution more than a decade ago.

Timisela may have felt safe given ICE's historical reticence to raid churches where illegal immigrants are being harbored. But at the same time, he was sorry to say goodbye to his wife of 10 years — another Indonesian Christian who's also in hiding because she has overstayed her visa and does not have an open case with the immigration agency.

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