undocumented immigrants

the Web Editors 2-02-2017

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott made good this week on his threats to restrict funding from any cities offering protection to immigrants who are undocumented, reports CBS News. On Wednesday, Abbott witheld $1.5 million in grant funds from Travis County, which includes Texas' capital city of Austin. The reason for Abbott's action was apparently Travis County sheriff Sally Hernandez' refusal to enforce federal immigration orders. 

Dhanya Addanki 1-23-2017

Image via JP Keenan/ Sojourners 

 America is beautiful because we have the power to define what it means to be American. 

Too often, we immigrants define what is "American" by what white culture tells us it should be. We internalize colonialism and let it run thickly in our veins: We give our offspring English names because we’re embarrassed of our language, or afraid that our children won’t be accepted with anything too “exotic.” We eagerly give up a culture that so proudly raised us. I’ve watched as we villainize black people and turn our backs on undocumented immigrants.

 

Image via Ken Rowland/flickr.com

More than 800 congregations have declared themselves sanctuaries for undocumented immigrants, about double the number since Election Day.

Leaders of the sanctuary movement say the pace of churches, and other houses of worship, declaring themselves sanctuaries has quickened, in the days leading up to the inauguration of President-elect Donald Trump on Jan. 20.

Image via Bobak Ha'Eri via Wikimedia Commons

Fuller Theological Seminary has joined a growing list of schools where administrators are being pressed by students, alumni, and faculty for designation as a sanctuary campus.

In the aftermath of Donald Trump’s election as president, some campuses are considering the moniker “sanctuary campus,” which generally means that the university will not willingly give the government information about their students, staff, or faculty who are undocumented immigrants.

the Web Editors 11-14-2016

Image via Evan El-Amin/Shutterstock.com

On Nov. 14, in a press conference at the White House, President Obama spoke about the possibility that President-elect Donald Trump may get rid of his executive action "Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals" (DACA)DACA enables undocumented immigrants who arrived in the U.S. before their sixteenth birthday, before June 15, 2007, to remain in the country without fear of deportation and receive a two-year work permit that can be renewed.

Lisa Sharon Harper 7-14-2016

Seven years ago, on a cold day in December 2009, I entered Elizabeth Detention Center in Elizabeth, N.J. — a minimum-security prison on a pilgrimage organized by the Interfaith Center of New York and Human Rights First. This one-day journey ushered me into the story of immigrants in the New York and New Jersey area, and changed my life.

Alexia Salvatierra 7-13-2016

Image via  / Shutterstock.com

El Camino del Inmigrante (the way of the immigrant) is the name of an upcoming 150-mile walk from the California-Mexico border to Los Angeles, arriving in time for the annual Christian Community Development Association conference. Participants in the conference and Southern California residents — immigrants and citizens — will walk together for ten days to remember and to lift up the suffering of migrants as well as their contributions to our country.

Tracy Kemme 6-17-2016

Image via Katherine Burgess / RNS

A few weeks ago after Mass at our local parish, I spoke with David, a young Guatemalan father who was anxious about the future. His concerns were understandable.

David is a devoted Catholic, a hard worker, and a family man. “I have been here for several years now, and my children are citizens,” he told me, gazing warmly at his chubby son in the stroller. “I worry that someday [the immigration authorities] will deport me and send me far away from them. This DAPA thing — it is the only hope to keep my family together.”

the Web Editors 6-06-2016

Image via  / Shutterstock.com

In a three-page letter, U.S. Rep. Filemon Vela blasted Donald Trump as a “racist” and told him “you can take your border wall and shove it up your ass,” reports Chron.

Vela, a Democrat from the border town of Brownsville, Texas, opened the letter diplomatically, admitting that he agrees with Trump that the government has failed veterans, that Mexican drug cartel violence requires a more serious response, and that felons who are undocumented ought to be deported.

Outside the Supreme Court building during oral arguments on DACA/DAPA. Photo by Rick Herron / Sojourners

On Monday morning, we stood outside of the U.S. Supreme Court building because, once again, we found ourselves at the mercy of a justice system weighing the legality of our presence in our own country.

Christopher Kerr 2-23-2016

You probably saw the media frenzy around Pope Francis’s comments aboard the papal plane on his trip back to Rome from Mexico last week. When asked about presidential candidate Donald Trump’s plan to build a wall along the U.S.- Mexico border, the pope said, “A person who thinks only about building walls, wherever they may be, and not building bridges, is not Christian.”

However, I was struck most by the pope’s following remarks, which were omitted from several mainstream media accounts — when he said of Trump’s plans, “This is not in the Gospel.”

Rick Herron 1-19-2016

The Supreme Court’s decision to take up the case now is highly significant, since it means that the court will rule on the matter during this term (likely by the end of June), allowing President Obama and his administration to at least begin moving forward with implementation before he leaves office.

Theo Rigby 1-12-2016
The Mejia family

The Mejia family. Via Sin Pais.

On the day Sam and Elida we to be deported, I arrived at the airport, with the entire Mejia family, and was witness to one of the most intensely sad events I’ve ever seen: a mother and father saying goodbye to their children, not knowing when they would see them again. As I drove home from the airport that night, I thought to myself, if every politician, faith-leader, and citizen in the U.S. could have met the Mejia family, and then seen the family ripped apart, the U.S. would not be deporting hundreds of thousands of immigrants every year. The raids that are descending on immigrant communities right now, targeting Central American families who recently crossed the border escaping extreme violence, would most likely not be happening. The de-humanizing term ‘illegal alien’ would not proliferate across our airwaves.

the Web Editors 11-10-2015

Image via  / Shutterstock.com

The U.S. Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals ruled on Nov. 9 against the Obama administration’s attempt to protect undocumented immigrants from deportation.

President Obama created the Deferred Action for Parents of Americans (DAPA) and expanded the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) programs by executive action in 2014.

Sojourners has long been in favor of comprehensive immigration reform, and opposes the Fifth Circuit’s decision. Sojourners founder and president Jim Wallis released the following statement on the ruling.

the Web Editors 10-30-2015

1. Death Café Hopping

A woman explores the recent trend of “death cafés” — public meetups among strangers to share experiences, memories, and challenges dealing with death of loved ones. “Death: What happens next?”

2. Has ‘Diversity’ Lost Its Meaning?

“When the word is proudly invoked in a corporate context, it acquires a certain sheen. It can give a person or institution moral credibility… It’s almost as if cheerfully and frequently uttering the word ‘diversity’ is the equivalent of doing the work of actually making it a reality.” Scorching indictment. Necessary read.

3. Persian Gulf May Soon Become Too Hot for Humans

A new study shows that by the end of the century, the heat index may hit 165 to 170 degrees for at least six hours each day. So about hosting World Cup 2022 in Qatar…

4. ‘Granny Pods’ Keep Elderly Close, at a Safe Distance

Okay, maybe we can find a better name. But these tiny houses that sit in your backyard and come with security and medical resources are a step towards improving end of life care, and keeping our families close.

Norma Pimentel 7-14-2015

The families arrive at the center after having traveled for weeks. Their bodies are completely filthy dirty. Their clothing and shoes have a darkened, grey, muddy appearance. In some cases, their clothing is still wet from having crossed the Rio Grande River. Since June of last year, large groups of refugees, mostly mothers with a child or two, walk through the door of the Humanitarian Respite Center at Sacred Heart Church in McAllen, Texas, their faces full of joyful tears as they experience the warm and welcoming faces of the many volunteers applauding, shouting out, “Bienvenidos!” “Welcome!”

The refugee families just spent several days at the Border Patrol Processing Station – the “Hielera” – the “Ice Box” as the refugees call it, because it is freezing there. While in this processing facility, the refugees are kept in cells, where they wait fearfully for what is to become of them.

Kamal Essaheb 7-14-2015

We are living in historic times. The Confederate flag that was placed on the South Carolina Capitol dome 54 years ago to protest the civil rights movement has finally come down. The U.S. Supreme Court ruled last month that victims of housing discrimination do not have to show intentional bias, and the court struck down state bans on same-sex marriage because they violated fundamental constitutional rights.

Victories in the battles against discrimination do not come easily or quickly, and they test our resolve to keep the faith during the lowest points of our struggles. While we celebrate the dismantling of institutional discrimination, we remain keenly aware of important challenges ahead with regard to discrimination — even hatred — against immigrants.

Many of us engaged in the long fight for immigration reform may be questioning whether we are at one of our lowest points, whether we can influence the negative political and legal trajectories of the recent immigration debates. The answer to both is “yes.”

Greg Williams 6-11-2015
Image via Richard Thornton/shutterstock.com

Image via Richard Thornton/shutterstock.com

The primary challenge facing immigration laws in the United States is not people crossing the border without authorization. In fact, a recent study from Pew Research Center shows that fewer people than ever are attempting to cross the border.

Rather, our dilemma with immigration is that people who are already here — some for several decades — without proper documentation face substantial difficulties in trying to integrate and contribute to the country. 

Trevor Barton 2-10-2015
Illustration of a boy, Xomi / Shutterstock.com

Illustration of a boy, Xomi / Shutterstock.com

In my classroom, there is a little boy from Honduras. He speaks Spanish — that is the language of his heart — but he is learning English and tries with all his heart to learn new words and strange phrases that will allow him to live in his new world here. He is 9 years old, with dark hair cut straight across his forehead in a wonderfully crooked line. He has deep brown eyes the color of a plowed field, eyes that sparkle like starlight at night off a pool of calm water. He has big dimples that catch teardrops when he laughs until he cries, or when he cries until the sadness in his heart resides. He has a broad smile that is sometimes mischievous but most times full of joy.

Sometimes I wonder ... what is he thinking as he closes his eyes at the end of the day, or opens them at dawn?

"I hope my new world will embrace me," he thinks tenderly, "and not call me an illegal alien ... and not try to tear me apart from my Aunt ... and not try to tear me apart ... and not place me in the shadows ... and not make me a shadow.

Mami, can you hear me in the dawn? Will my words reach you over the land, over the land, to the valley, between the mountains, to La Esperanza, to Honduras? Help me, Mami. Please. I don't want to be a shadow here. ...

Suzanne Ross 1-30-2015
'Paddington' film still. Via Paddington Movie on Facebook

'Paddington' film still. Via Paddington Movie on Facebook

I loved Paddington, the new movie based on the Michael Bonds books about an immigrant bear who arrives in London from darkest Peru. Paddington has no resources other than his faith that he will be welcomed with open arms. Sadly, his experience begins like that of most undocumented immigrants to the European or American shores – he is rejected and ignored. But this is a playful movie with a happy ending that celebrates what wonderful things happen to the Brown family when they allow Paddington into their hearts and home.

Admittedly, Paddington is a handful – a wild animal unfamiliar with modern conveniences, whose commitment to being polite does not prevent unfortunate accidents that fulfill the nervous Mr. Brown’s worst fears. As the family learns to love this accident-prone bear, however, their love for each other is renewed. The villain (yes, of course, there’s a villain!) is defeated, Paddington finds a home, and the Brown’s problems are cured by loving the alien in their midst.

Does this fictional account of immigration with a happy ending have any bearing (pun intended!) on our real world immigration crisis? This movie invites us to wonder whether our fears of the changes that immigration brings are unfounded. After all, many European and American citizens fear the waves of legal and illegal immigration in Europe and the United States. We know all too well that these uninvited guests are radically changing racial, religious, and cultural demographics. Immigrants disrupt labor patterns, burden welfare systems, and tax the criminal justice system. And unlike the movie’s cartoon explosions, floods, and fires, the violence in our world that seems fomented in and among immigrant communities is all too real a threat.

Or so the story goes that stokes our fears. But is the story true?

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