National Weekend of Prayer and Action for Immigrant Justice, will take place July 29- August 1
Church World Service reacted yesterday to the injunction placed on certain parts of Arizona's immigration law.
Other Christian bodies are also commenting, including national officers and conference ministers of the United Church of Christ:
July 29, 2010
We, as leaders of the United Church of Christ gathered in retreat on this historic day, applaud yesterday's federal court decision to stop the implementation of key provisions outlined in Arizona Senate Bill 1070, which were scheduled to take effect today, July 29, 2010. The court's analysis of constitutional law confirms our concerns that this law unjustly singles out specific members of our communities based solely on suspicion of their legal status.
We thank all those voices that, in the days since the passage of this law, have spoken so clearly about the injustice of such a law and who have acted in ways that, no matter how seemingly insignificant, have compelled the court to take action and caused others to think more seriously about the impact of such legislation.
In April, Arizona passed new legislation governing immigrants; legislation that the UCC's Southwest Conference calls "the harshest anti-immigrant legislation in the country ... that codifies racial profiling and creates an atmosphere of suspicion, hatred, and scapegoating of immigrants and U.S. Citizens. (For more information go to http://www.ucc.org/justice/immigration.)
When the alien resides with you in your land, you shall not oppress the alien. The alien who resides with you shall be to you as the citizen among you; you shall love the alien as yourself, for you were aliens in the land of Egypt: I am the Lord your God."
-- Leviticus 19:33-34
We have witnessed and have learned of the immense pain, suffering, and fear already inflicted upon immigrant families in and beyond Arizona as a result of this law. As Christians, we are called to love our neighbors. The Bible is clear in calling us to welcome strangers in our land, and to love them as we love ourselves. In these times, listening to the voice of the still-speaking God, we will learn how to respond to these new sisters and brothers residing among us.
Therefore, in accordance with our mandate found in the Holy Scriptures and actions of the General Synod, we continue to call for national comprehensive immigration reform legislation to establish a safe and humane immigration system, consistent with our values, that:
- creates a process for undocumented immigrants to earn legal status and eventual citizenship;
- upholds family unity as a priority of immigration policies;
- protects immigrant and native-born workers in their workplaces;
- aligns border and internal enforcement policies with humanitarian values and due process protections
- provides every detainee with access to their attorney, family, and faith leader, and ensures humane treatment in accord with state, federal, and international law; and
- allows undocumented young persons who grew up in this country to work, pay in-state tuition for higher education, and join the military, and be eligible for legal status and eventual citizenship (the DREAM Act.)
We commit to be in solidarity with our brothers and sisters in Arizona today and in the days ahead as they encounter serious community tension and hostility. We call upon our members to participate in worship services, nonviolent rallies, and other events all around the nation. Above all, we pray that God's grace and peace will be evident among us.
Geoffrey A. Black, General Minister and President
John Dorhauer, Southwest Conference Minister
Linda Jaramillo, Executive Minister of Justice and Witness Ministries
Douglas Anders, South Central Conference Minister
Susan Towner-Larsen, Minister for Conference Relations
Steve Sterner, Executive Minister for Local Church Ministries
Jim Antal, Massachusetts Conference Minister and President
Felix C. Villanueva, Southern California Nevada Conference Minister
John R. Deckenback, Central Atlantic Conference Minister
Karen Smith Sellers, Minnesota Conference Minister
Gary M. Schulte, New Hampshire Conference Minister
Judith Youngman, Interim Conference Minister, Michigan Conference
Edith Guffey, Associate General Minister
Rita M Root, Interim Conference Minister, New York Conference
Bob Molsberry, Ohio Conference Minister
Cally Rogers-Witte, Executive Minister for UCC Wider Church Ministries
Mary Susan Gast, Conference Minister Northern California Nevada
Marja L. Coons-Torn, Penn Central Conference Minister
Charles L. Wildman, Connecticut Interim Conference Minister
David S. Moyer, Wisconsin Conference Minister
Alan N. McLarty, Penn West Conference
Charles Barnes, Conference Minister, Rhode Island Conference
Kent Siladi, Conference Minister, Florida Conference
Sheldon Culver, Conference Minister, Illinois South Conference
Randy Hyvonen, Conference Minister, Montana-Northern Wyoming Conference
Michael Denton, Pacific Northwest Conference of the United Church of Christ
The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops released the following statement:
WASHINGTON— As chairman of the U.S. bishops’ Committee on Migration, Bishop John C. Wester of Salt Lake City applauded the July 28 decision by U.S. District Judge Susan Bolton to halt some of the most controversial provisions of Arizona SB 1070 from going into effect the next day. Bishop Wester lamented the status quo on immigration as “unacceptable” and called for the Federal government to act immediately on immigration reform.The news service of the Episcopal Church USA reported:
"It is the right decision,” Bishop Wester said. “Any law that provides legal cover to profiling affects all members of our communities, including legal residents and citizens. It is a very slippery slope. What is needed now is for Congress and the Administration to live up to their responsibilities and address this issue by passing immigration reform."
The U.S. Catholic bishops believe that any comprehensive immigration reform bill should contain the following elements: a legalization program that gives migrant workers and their families an opportunity to earn legal permanent residency and eventual citizenship; a new worker visa program that protects the labor rights of both U.S. and foreign workers and gives participants the option to earn permanent residency; reform of the U.S. family-based immigration system to reduce waiting times for family reunification; and restoration of due process protections for immigrants, including asylum-seekers. In the longer term, policies that address the root causes of migration, such as the lack of sustainable development in sending nations, should also be part of the equation.
[Episcopal News Service, Phoenix, Arizona] Activists hailed a federal judge's July 28 decision to partially block sections of Arizona's controversial immigration law and said they will proceed with prayer vigils and protests as planned for July 29, the day the law was to take effect.
"I think in one sense this is a victory in our democratic process of checks and balances," said Bishop Kirk S. Smith of the Episcopal Diocese of Arizona. "I think it's a victory that confirms our American sense of compassion and fairness.
"I pray that this will open the way for a future more thoughtful and humane resolution of our immigration crisis," added Smith, a scheduled speaker at a 6 a.m. July 29 interfaith prayer vigil at Trinity Episcopal Cathedral, part of a daylong series of anti-immigration law demonstrations and events in downtown Phoenix and elsewhere.
Hours before SB1070, which seeks to identify and deport undocumented persons, was to take effect, U.S. District Judge Susan Bolton said crucial aspects of the law simply could not be enforced.
Specifically, she cited requirements that immigrants carry citizenship papers at all times and that police officers check immigration status during traffic stops, detentions and arrests. Also halted was a section barring undocumented workers from applying for or soliciting employment.
Bolton said the law puts unfair burdens on legal immigrants. "There is a substantial likelihood that officers will wrongfully arrest legal resident aliens," said Bolton, who was appointed to the federal bench by former President Bill Clinton. "Preserving the status quo is less harmful."
She also barred sections that forbid police from releasing anyone arrested until that person's immigration status is determined and that allowed police to make warrantless arrests if there is a belief the person has committed an offense that allows them to be removed from the United States.
Other aspects of the law, including provisions against the smuggling of undocumented persons, will go into effect at 12:01 a.m.
The ruling restored peace of mind — at least temporarily -- for many of her 300-member Spanish-speaking congregation, said the Rev. Canon Carmen B. Guerrero, canon for peace and justice for the Arizona diocese.
"My phone has not stopped ringing today," she said. "Families in the congregation feel they can breathe a sigh of relief. They don't have to be afraid. They don't have to fear their husband might not come home because he got caught somewhere. It's an enormous opportunity to breathe again."
But Guerrero said the struggle "isn't over, it's just postponed."
She added, "It's important from a church perspective to let people know that God really does listen to prayer.
"I spent half my sermon last Sunday talking about being persistent in prayer, about not giving up and continuing to plead our case to God. So I'm excited about the ruling," she said.
Now perhaps there is an opportunity to "look at a more humane way of dealing with immigration reform and take a serious look at border protection without having to mix the two together," she said.
A fourth-generation Mexican American, Guerrero said nonetheless Bolton's decision was a big relief because those who were born here or had become American citizens still felt targeted "because it (SB1070) had to do with our appearance."
Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer, who signed SB1070 into law in April, called the ruling "a bump in the road" and said she planned to appeal it, all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court if necessary.
Richard Land, head of the The Ethics and Liberties Commission of the Southern Baptist Convention, said earlier this month:
The recent passage of the new law in Arizona is a cry for help from the citizens of a state made desperate by the federal government’s shameful and flagrant dereliction to its duty to control the nation’s borders and to enforce its laws. This is manifestly a federal responsibility and the U. S. government has failed in its responsibilities to its citizens under both Democratic and Republican administrations.The Arizona law is a symptom, not a solution. While I sympathize with the plight of the beleaguered citizens of Arizona, the law they have passed faces severe challenges....Proper reform should consist of a program that provides an earned pathway that requires an illegal immigrant who desires to remain legally in the U.S. to undergo a criminal background check, pay a fine, agree to pay back taxes, learn to speak, write, and read English and get in line behind those who are legally migrating into this country in order to apply for permanent residence after a probationary period of years. They must also acknowledge and pledge allegiance to America’s governmental structure, the duties of citizenship and our core values as embodied in the Declaration of Independence. People who fail background checks or who refuse to comply with this generous opportunity to earn legal status, should be deported immediately.This is not amnesty. Amnesty is what President Carter gave the draft dodgers who came home from Canada with no penalties, no fines, and no requirements whatsoever.It should be remembered that most of these undocumented workers who have broken the law (and thus should be penalized) came here in order to work whereas most of our home-grown criminals break the law in order to avoid work.While the government focuses on enforcing the law, Christians are mandated to forgive and reflect God’s grace toward all people within their communities, including illegal immigrants. The recent SBC resolution encouraged “churches to act redemptively and reach out to meet the physical, emotional, and spiritual needs of all immigrants.”As citizens of the Lord’s heavenly Kingdom, we have a divine mandate to respond compassionately toward those who are in need.There is neither the political nor economic will in the U.S. population for forcibly rounding up 12 million people—many of them who have children who are American citizens—and shipping them back to their country of origin. Politics and public policy are the “art of the possible.” The reality is that it is not feasible for the United States government to attempt to deport 12 million people. There has to be another way to resolve this issue.In hopes of providing a biblical solution to this matter, I have joined with other Evangelicals in calling for bipartisan immigration reform that:
• Respects the God-given dignity of every person;The reality is that we have been, and are, a nation of immigrant settlers, and the descendents of such settlers, who braved oceans and many obstacles to come to this matchless land of opportunity to become Americans. Whether our ancestors came early, or late, we are Americans, whatever nationality may be used to describe our heritage before we arrived. We should, and we will, always have room in this great nation for those who are willing to embrace theAmerican dream and the American ideals that both inspired that dream and define it.
• Protects the unity of the immediate family;
• Respects the rule of law;
• Guarantees secure national borders;
• Ensures fairness to taxpayers; and,
• Establishes a path toward legal status and/or citizenship for those who qualify and who wish to become permanent residents.
Land has come out in strong support of President Obama's immigration goals:
"President Obama laid out the elements for an immigration policy that will mend the social fabric of our nation. ... The president has acted like a statesman, not a politician. Statesmen are concerned with the next generation; politicians are concerned with the next election. It's time for Congress to step up and be statesmen."Watch President Obama discuss his hope for immigration reform:
Religious leaders are planning a weekend of protests aimed at supporting reform....
.... (the) National Weekend of Prayer and Action for Immigrant Justice, will take place July 29- August 1 in Chicago; Oakland; Cincinnati; Milwaukee; Toledo; San Francisco; New York City; Houston; Philadelphia; Charlotte, North Carolina; and Albany, New York and is coordinated by Interfaith Worker Justice. Actions include marches, rallies, prayer vigils, civil disobedience, educational forums, and worship services, sermons, and homilies about immigration, as hundreds voice their opposition to SB-1070 and demand a just solution to the broken immigration system that gave rise to this draconian law.Click here for more.