Immigration

Violence Against Women Act Faces Congressional Threat

Photo by Jonathan Pattee, LIRS

Protestor holds aloft sign urging Congress not to pass H.R. 4970, Washington, D.C, on May 15. Photo by Jonathan Pattee

Some victims, it seems, are more worthy than other victims. This is the clear message sent by a deeply flawed version of the Violence Against Women Act that is headed for a vote in the U.S. House of Representatives. 

But our faith dictates that such a dichotomy—worthy and unworthy—cannot be allowed. 

VAWA, as the act has been known since it was first passed in 1994, represents years of progress and bipartisan commitment on the part of Congress to protect victims of violence. But the version up for reauthorization in the House of Representatives, H.R. 4970, would roll back VAWA’s existing protections for battered immigrants leaving them more vulnerable —and in some cases, endangering their lives.

Unable to Work, Indian Immigrant Women Turn to Spiritual Practices for Comfort

A woman chanting at Bharat Soka Gakkai. Image by The India Today Group/Getty Ima

A woman chanting at Bharat Soka Gakkai. Image by The India Today Group/Getty Images.

LOS ANGELES -- Even though she met her husband through an arranged marriage, Pooja Sindhwani considers herself a modern woman. She worked in interior design in her native India for four years, and she and her husband spent a year getting to know each other before their wedding. When she followed her husband to Houston, she wasn't worried about adjusting to life in the United States.

"You feel you're going to a country that offers opportunities," Sindhwani said, "you expect that things will work out."  

Except when they don't.  

Unable to land a job in Houston, Sindhwani slipped into depression. Like thousands of Indian women, she was issued an H-4 "dependent spouse" visa that did not allow her to work.  

Sindhwani's husband was a highly skilled foreign worker, sponsored by a U.S. company on an H-1B visa. The Indian women who marry highly skilled workers also tend to be well-educated professionals. Many think it will be easy to transfer from a dependent spouse visa to a work visa.  

The constant rejections from companies that couldn't sponsor her work visa took a toll on Sindhwani. 

As a Nation of Immigrants, What Do We Value?

Our friends at the National Immigration Forum started a new campaign today to advocate for Citizenship and Integration grant funding. Last year, Congress cut all funding forthese important programs that help welcome new Americans to our country. The Department of Homeland Security budget does not reflect the biblical commandment to welcome the stranger. We must once again remind congress, budgets are moral documents.

Check out their website to learn more. 

 

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:

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