For our older posts on
Here’s help in following immigration legislation in various
The Office of Immigration Issues of the PC(USA) sent
this helpful note (and links to more!) on June 22, 2011:
There has been recent activity at the state level
on immigration legislation. South Carolina passed legislation
yesterday and a couple weeks ago Alabama adopted a bill that would
require law enforcement to check the immigration status of a person
if there was reasonable suspicion that person was in the US without
authorization. The Alabama bill also presents issues for those who
assist people who are undocumented. Our office is currently
reviewing the South Carolina legislation.
Here is an article from a local paper in SC:
As part of our efforts to keep Presbyterians
informed about immigration issues in their area, we’ve created a
spreadsheet that tracks state immigration legislation along with
links to the text of the bill, voting history, and a recent local
article on the legislation. It is posted on our website. The
spreadsheet is updated every few weeks so if you’re relying on the
information in the spreadsheet for anything, please call our office
for the most up-to-date information as we may be a little behind
posting changes. I can tell you that we’ve not updated the SC
Follow this link to learn more:
Thanks for your time and your ministry.
Melissa Davis Gee
Advocacy and Legal Services Coordinator
Office of Immigration Issues
Presbyterian Church (USA)
100 Witherspoon Street
Louisville, Kentucky 40202
For our earlier posts on
immigration concerns >>
Big Tent to stay
finalized after examination of new Indiana immigration bill
from the Office of the General Assembly
The Big Tent –
the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.)’s biennial celebration of
ministry and mission – will be pitched in Indianapolis June
The decision to
keep the Big Tent event in Indianapolis this summer was made
after church leaders examined the final text of the newly passed
Indiana immigration bill (Senate Bill 590) and confirmed that it
does not contain elements that would have necessitated a change
Big Tent website for more information and to register.
Big Tent location
up in the air
immigration law might mean event has to relocate; decision will
be made May 2
by Bethany Furkin,
Presbyterian News Service
Despite concerns about a proposed Indiana immigration law that
may necessitate a change of location, plans are underway for
this year’s Big Tent event, scheduled to meet June 30-July 2 in
urging Presbyterians to register for the event but to delay
making travel arrangements until May 2, when the final location
will be determined.
legislature is considering Senate Bill 590, which many describe
as “Arizona-type” legislation. The bill would allow law
enforcement officials to check a person’s immigration status in
some situations, make the harboring or transport of an
undocumented immigrant illegal in some cases and require that
all communication by the state and its employees be in English.
Last year’s 219th
General Assembly voted to “refrain from holding national
meetings at hotels in those states where travel by immigrant
Presbyterians or Presbyterians of color or Hispanic ancestry
might subject them to harassment due to legislation similar to
Arizona Law SB 1070/HB2162.”
“We really see it
as an issue of hospitality,” said Kerry Rice, manager of General
Assembly Meeting Services. He added that the church can’t hold
an event where its guests will be subject to possible detention
or harassment. “We need to stand in solidarity.”
The rest of the story >>
For a news release from the General Assembly Mission Council,
with links to helpful background material >>
Arizona high school students offer insight into “the illegal
Bordering an affluent
neighborhood in Phoenix, Arizona, one can leave the campus of
Arcadia High School and drive up nearby Camelback Mountain to
catch a breathtaking view of the Phoenix Valley. Or, in three
hours one can be standing on the border between Mexico and
Arizona. Arizona, and its capital city, Phoenix, are on the
front lines of the illegal immigration battle.
The Border follows 6 Arcadia High students as
they try to separate fact from fiction and get to the bottom of
the illegal immigration debate. The kids interview Russell
Pearce, co-author of Arizona’s controversial SB-1070,
controversial Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio, advocates for
the Dream Act, and everyday people who are affected by the
Here’s a trailer with some glimpses of the film >>
As far as we know, the film itself has not yet
been posted online, but we’ll let you know as soon as we can.
Thanks to PVJ coordinating
team member Lorelei Hillman
Speak up for immigration reform that will be fair to same-sex
At this crucial time in the immigration reform
debate, the group Immigration Equality is urging people of faith
and others to join in contacting members of Congress and the
President, asking them to support the Uniting American Families
Here is more of their communication to us,
The UAFA has been endorsed at the national
level by dozens of immigration, labor, civil rights,
professional, business, and faith groups, including the
Episcopal Church, the United Methodist Church, General Board of
Church and Society, the United Church of Christ, the Union for
Reform Judaism, the Unitarian Universalist Association of
Congregations, More Light Presbyterians, Lutherans Concerned,
Catholics for Equality, and many others. [Your
WebWeaver adds: Presbyterian Voices for Justice has also
joined in endorsing one of these letters.]
As you may be aware, if an American citizen
(or legal permanent resident) falls in love with someone from
another country, they may petition for an immigration benefit to
bring that person to the US (green card).
If you happen to be gay or lesbian, you are
denied this basic right.
Even if you get married, or enter into a civil
union or domestic partnership in any of the States or other
nations that allow this, you still cannot bring your partner to
23 other nations (most of our closest allies,
Argentina, Australia, Canada, Israel, Western Europe and South
Africa) allow their gay and lesbian citizens to sponsor their
foreign-born partners, and most of these nations do not have
There is a bill about to be introduced in this
Congress called the Uniting American Families Act that would end
this discrimination. It would allow gay and lesbian Americans to
sponsor their partner (or spouse), in the same manner that
straight couples can, along with the same penalties for fraud.
This is one of the most popular immigration bills in the US
House of Representatives in the last Congress, with 135
Observe International Migrants Day – December 18
This comes to us from the Rev. Tony Aja,
Coordinator of Hispanic/Latino Ministries for Mid-Kentucky
Presbytery, on behalf of Presbyterians for Just Immigration.
December 18th has been designated
"International Migrants Day" by the United Nations.
Click here for a
liturgy and other resources created for this day by the Rev. Dr.
Claudio Carvalhaes, professor at Louisville Presbyterian
Theological Seminary, at the request of the Presbyterian Church
(USA)'s United Nations Office. Eventually this will be posted in
their website this week.
However Claudio has graciously shared it with
me and others just now. We ask that you would consider using all
or parts of this wonderful resource in a worship service soon to
bring to the forefront the plight of those who are being
displaced from their homes by political, religious or other type
of persecution. Others simply migrate to feed their families and
improve their lives.
During this Christmas Season we are reminded
of the Holy Family's own need to seek refuge in a foreign
Amnesty International analyzes the current form of the DREAM
The DREAM Act, a bill that would help thousands
of committed students and military officers who are alien minors
to legalize their status, was introduced in the Senate last week
by Senator Durbin (D-IL). A House companion bill is expected any
day. However, for many DREAM supporters the release of the
long-awaited Senate bill last week dampened the spirits of some
and outraged others.
Amnesty International provides a helpful
analysis of the bill, with its concerns and the reasons for
supporting it in spite of its weaknesses.
Thanks to Jonathan Nelson, Elder, Fifth Avenue Presbyterian
Stated Clerk Gradye Parsons sends letter to Congress
supporting DREAM Act
allow immigrant high school graduates to go to college, work or
join U.S. military [10-4-10]
Jerry L. Van Marter, Presbyterian News Service
Louisville, September 30, 2010 — The Rev.
Gradye Parsons, stated clerk of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.)
General Assembly, has written a letter to members of the U.S.
Congress urging them to pass the DREAM Act (S.729/H.R.1751).
The legislation would allow the children of
illegal immigrants to continue their education, work or join the
U.S. military if they graduate from high school.
"The denomination is extremely concerned over
the fate of millions of young people who have lived in the
United States for most of their childhood, yet have no right to
legal work authorization or higher education," Parsons wrote in
his Sept. 27 letter.
More, including the full text of Parsons’ letter >>
Court overturns border volunteer's 'littering' conviction
Appeals court says drinking water set out for
migrants is not 'garbage'
Jerry L. Van Marter of Presbyterian News
The United States 9th Circuit Court of Appeals
has overturned the conviction of a humanitarian activist for
"littering" near the U.S. border with Mexico, stating that the
clean bottles of drinking water placed on known migrant trails
could not be considered "garbage" due to their intended purpose
of preventing death-by-exposure.
Dan Millis, a volunteer with the Presbyterian
Church (U.S.A.)-backed faith-based organization No More Deaths,
had been convicted in September 2008 for placing bottles of
drinking water in the Buenos Aires National Wildlife Refuge (BANWR)
in the middle of one of the most-traveled corridors for migrants
along the Arizona border.
The rest of the story >>
See also the The New York Times report of Sept. 27
tried and true bugaboo
by Berry Craig
Since the end of the Cold War, which deprived
them of the Red Menace, right-wing Republicans have been looking
for a replacement bogeyman to frighten people into voting for
They tried humanism, then gay rights. Both
were scary enough for Christians of the homophobic,
Jesus-loves-me-but-He-can’t-stand you persuasion. But most
Americans didn’t seem to get too worked up over the humanist-gay
“threat” to the republic.
Finally, the GOP has gone back in history and
found the tried and true bugaboo: immigrants.
Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham is suggesting
repeal of part of the 14th Amendment that makes anybody born in
the USA a citizen.
Graham says his targets are undocumented
immigrants and their offspring. He means Latinos, of course. I’d
bet the senator is cool with automatic citizenship for the babes
of paperless white Canadians born on this side of the border.
Anyway, Graham’s boss, GOP Senate Minority
Leader Mitch McConnell, wants hearings on the amendment’s
birthright provision. Other Republicans are hopping on the
Meanwhile, just about everybody agrees that
our immigration laws need reforming.
But the hue and cry over the 14th Amendment is
pure electioneering. It is part of a grander GOP strategy. The
Republicans are pandering to a rising tide of anti-immigrant
anger among white folks who hate it that Mr. and Mrs. USA are
looking a lot less like Ward and June Cleaver.
Anyway, prejudice against immigrants has been
around for a long time.
It took off in the late 1840s when large
numbers of German and Irish Catholics moved to America. Many
many native-born Protestants wigged out. In the 1850s, fanatical
Protestant white men of British stock formed the American or
“Know Nothing” Party. They claimed the Catholic newcomers were
in cahoots with the pope – whom some of the xenophobes took for
the anti-Christ – to wrest America from the “true Christians.”
After the Civil War, many Catholic, Orthodox
and Jewish people arrived from eastern and southern Europe.
Buddhist Chinese and Japanese also made America their new home.
Nativism came roaring back. Many “Old
Immigrant” Anglo-Saxon Protestants loathed and feared the “New
Immigrants,” describing them as the “scum of Europe” and the
“Refuse the refuse!” became the anti-immigrant
cry. This was about the time the Statue of Liberty went up in
New York harbor inviting the world’s “tired,” “poor” and
“huddled masses” to join us.
No matter, vote-hungry politicians –
Republicans and Democrats – eagerly embraced the xenophobia.
Congress stopped immigration from Asia and sharply curbed the
number of immigrants from southern and eastern Europe.
Anti-immigrant bigotry – bigotry, period –
grew anew after the 20th century turned. The Ku Klux Klan
re-emerged in the 1920s, claiming it stood for "100 Percent
The Klan stuck foreigners – again mostly
southern and Eastern European Catholics, Jews and members of
Orthodox churches – just below African Americans on its expanded
hate list. At the same time, many politicians of both big
parties ranted against the "foreign wretches," claiming they
were "polluting" the country and helping spread Soviet-style
communism to America.
Of course, the Republicans – and even the Tea
Baggers – would have us belief that their beef is with “illegal”
immigrants. But they're not fooling anybody. Most of these
neo-Know Nothings are white people who have a problem with
Latinos north of the border, period.
Check out signs at Tea Party rallies: “SEAL
OUR BORDERS,” “Go Trash Your Father’s Crappy Country. Don’t
Trash My Father’s Great Country! God Bless America/Damn Obama”
and “America Help Us Boycott Mexico/Respect Are-[sic]Country/Speak
English,” and "Make English America's offical [sic] Language"
are pretty typical (So are the misspellings.).
Better yet go to
http://www.facebook.com/cuentame?v=app_11007063052 and watch
It's funny that the Republicans and the
GOP-tilting Tea Party white folks who yell and wave “I want my
country back!” signs don't see the irony in their protestations.
Illegal immigrants – some of the Tea Bagger ancestors – started
this country. The Indians didn’t invite the Europeans over.
And I wonder what the Tea Baggers would think
if Native Americans started showing up at Tea Party rallies with
their own “I want my country back!” signs.
Berry Craig is an associate professor of
history at Paducah, Ky., Community College and a freelance
Xenophobia: Fear-Mongering for American Votes
Editorial, New York Times, August 5, 2010
[posted here 8-6-10]
Leading Republicans have gotten chilly
toward the Constitution’s 14th Amendment, which guarantees
citizenship to people born in the United States. Senators
Mitch McConnell, John McCain, Lindsey Graham, Jeff Sessions
and Jon Kyl have been suggesting that the country should
take a look at it, re-examine it, think it over, hold
hearings. They seem worried that maybe we got something
wrong nearly 150 years ago, after fighting the Civil War,
freeing enslaved Africans and declaring that they and their
descendants were not property or partial persons, but free
and full Americans.
As statements of core values go, the 14th
Amendment is a keeper. It decreed, belatedly, that
citizenship is not a question of race, color, beliefs,
wealth, political status or bloodline. It cannot fall prey
to political whims or debates over who is worthy to be an
American. “All persons born or naturalized in the United
States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof,” it says,
“are citizens of the United States and of the State wherein
they reside.” ...
The editorial concludes:
The United States has never had a neat,
painless way to add newcomers. But our most shameful moments
have involved the exclusion of groups, often those that do
our hardest labor: Indians, African-Americans, Chinese,
Irish, Italians, Catholics, Jews, Poles, Japanese-Americans,
Hispanics. America has stood proudest when it dared to
stretch the definition of who “we” are.
As a result, this is still the most welcoming
country for immigrants. A few politicians chumming for votes
in an off-year election cannot be allowed to destroy that.
The full editorial >>
Thanks to Jonathan Nelson,
Elder Fifth Ave Presbyterian Church NYC
More on immigration concerns
Community groups continue
protests against SB1070, and all
immigration police collaboration
Media advisory from
National Network for Immigrant and
July 29, 2010
U.S. District Court
Judge Susan Bolton's ruling
yesterday temporarily halting select
provisions of Arizona 's SB1070 is a
good start towards defeating the
Unfortunately, the ruling leaves
intact the status quo of
anti-immigrant racial profiling and
collaboration, setting the
groundwork for heightened harassment
and arrests of immigrants.
U.S. District Court
Judge Susan Bolton's ruling
yesterday temporarily halting select
provisions of Arizona 's SB1070 is a
good start towards defeating the
Unfortunately, the ruling leaves
intact the status quo of
anti-immigrant racial profiling and
setting the groundwork for
heightened harassment and arrests of
Many mobilizations in
cities around the country to protest
SB1070 on the date of its enactment,
July 29, are proceeding as planned.
Groups in Arizona are carrying out
actions of civil resistance to stop
theSB1070 from going forward and, in
Phoenix , chained themselves to the
doors of the county jail run by
Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio.
Blocks Provisions of SB1070
The ruling let stand
a section on day laborers in which
police will be allowed to charge
persons with "harboring and
transporting" immigrants who have no
valid immigration documents.
The ruling suspended
implementation of several
widely-criticized sections of
officer to determine the
immigration status of a person
stopped, detained or arrested if
there's reasonable suspicion
about their status.|
failure to apply for or carry
undocumented immigrants who
solicit, apply for or perform
warrantless arrest of a person
where there is probable cause to
believe they have committed a
public offense that makes them
deportable from the United
sections of SB1070, set to become
law Thursday, July 29, continue
criminalizing persons who "look" or
"sound" immigrant, and Arizona
police will be able to continue
harassing and detaining people for
Condemn SB1070, End
All Immigration-Police Collaboration
As SB1070 now stands,
immigrant families, workers and
communities will be more vulnerable
to abuse, violence and exploitation
at the hands of hate groups and
other unscrupulous police,
landlords, businesses and employers.
Additionally, the temporary halt of
select provisions of SB1070 will
embolden other states and localities
to attempt passing copy-cat laws and
NNIRR and its members
are urging the Obama Administration
to take action to stop all
provisions of SB1070, and to end all
programs around the country. These
programs help foster SB1070 and
other similar state proposals.
Instead of expanding
federal funding of immigration
policing and border militarization,
or allowing Arizona and other states
to use federal stimulus monies on
immigration policing, NNIRR will be
pressing the Administration and
Congress to invest in living wage
job creation, expanding social,
health and education services and
programs that provide for community
health and safety for all.
Key websites for
information and connections to
campaigns and work against SB-1070:
For a list of actions
and media contacts for July 29,
2010, visit the
Network for Immigrant and Refugee
310 8th St. Ste.
303 | Oakland, CA 94607 l tel:
510.465.1984 | fa510.465.1885
|Abraham Jouneyed to a
New Country – a new hymn on immigration
are planning to address the new Arizona anti-immigrant law this
Sunday in their worship services, and might find it helpful to
use a new hymn text by the Rev. Carolyn Gillette. Entitled
“Abraham Journeyed to a Far Country,” the hymn relates to
lectionary epistle texts used in August 15th and 29th as well.
You are invited to share this with whoever might find it useful.
Abraham Journeyed to a New
BUNESSAN 126.96.36.199 D (“Morning Has
Abraham journeyed to a new country;
Sarah went with him, journeying too.
Slaves down in Egypt fled Pharaoh’s army;
Ruth left the home and people she knew.
Mary and Joseph feared Herod’s order;
Soldiers were coming! They had to flee.
Taking young Jesus, they crossed the border;
So was our Lord a young refugee.
Some heard the promise—God’s hand would bless
Some fled from hunger, famine and pain.
Some left a place where others oppressed them;
All trusted God and started again.
Did they know hardship? Did they know danger?
Who shared a home or gave them some bread?
Who reached a hand to welcome the stranger?
Who saw their fear and gave hope instead?
God, our own families came here from far
We have been strangers, “aliens” too.
May we reach out and offer a welcome
As we have all been welcomed by you.
Biblical references: Genesis 12, Ruth 1; Matthew 2:13-16,
10:40; 25:31-46; Hebrews 11, 13:2; Leviticus 19:18, 33-34
Tune: Gaelic melody
Text: Copyright © 2010 Carolyn Winfrey Gillette. All rights
free use of this hymn is given to churches that support the
Office on Immigration Issues of the Presbyterian Church (USA).
Hymn Note for “Abraham Journeyed to a New
Text: Throughout the
Bible, we see stories of immigrants—people called to settle in
new lands and begin new lives for a variety of reasons, people
who trusted in God’s protection along the way. Abraham and Sarah
heard God’s promise of a new land. Exodus is the story of God’s
people being led from slavery to the freedom of the Promised
Land. Later, Ruth went with Naomi, her mother-in-law, because
her love of family led her to take risks and leave the home she
knew for a new home. Jesus himself was a refugee in Egypt when
his parents had to flee from Herod for his safety. Jesus taught
that one of the greatest commandments is to love our neighbors;
these neighbors include foreigners (Luke 10:25-37 with
references to Leviticus 19:18, 33-34). He also taught that all
people will be judged on their compassion for those in need and
their welcome of strangers (Matthew 25:31-46). Today, people are
immigrants for many of the same reasons that these biblical
people were. The Church is called to follow the Bible’s
teachings by welcoming and supporting immigrants today. Check
out the web site of the Office on Immigration Issues of the
Presbyterian Church (USA):
Tune: The hymn tune,
Bunessan, is a traditional Gaelic melody that was originally
associated with the 19th century Christmas carol,
"Child in a Manger,” by Mary Macdonald. When the Gaelic hymn was
translated into English, the melody was named after the small
village on the Scottish island of Mull by the translator,
wrote a new hymn to this tune, "Morning
that was published in 1931.
Winfrey Gillette is the author of
Songs of Grace: New
Hymns for God and Neighbor
(Discipleship Resources/Upper Room Books, 2009) and
Gifts of Love: New Hymns for
(Geneva Press, 2000) and the co-pastor of Limestone Presbyterian
Church in Wilmington, Delaware. This congregation includes first
generation immigrants from Brazil, England, Ghana, India,
Scotland and South Africa, and provides space for a Ghanaian
Presbyterian Fellowship. A complete list of Carolyn’s 160+ hymns
can be found at
Arizona Presbyterians resist new immigration law
‘We need to act out of our faith and not out
Bethany Furkin of Presbyterian News Service
LOUISVILLE — When Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer
signed Senate Bill 1070 into law in April, the state’s new
immigration law was front page news. But for many Presbyterians
who work on the Arizona/Mexico border, the law adds another
complicated layer to the ministries that they’ve been involved
in for years.
SB 1070, the broadest immigration law in the
U.S. in decades, makes it a crime to not carry immigration
documents. It also gives the police the power to detain anyone
suspected of being an illegal immigrant. The bill, which goes
into effect July 28, has been widely criticized as an invitation
to racial profiling of Hispanics.
The Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) is one critic
of the law, with three top leaders speaking out against it in a
letter to Congress. In the letter, they call for comprehensive
immigration reform and identify "bigotry, trauma, and fear" as
effects of SB 1070.
The rest of
the report >>
New resource recommended on growing collaboration between
Immigration and local police
Manager for Immigration Issues/Immigration Counsel, Presbyterian
Church, USA [6-3-10]
The National Immigration Law Center, The
National Immigration Project and the National Day Laborer
Organizing Network have put together a tool-kit to help local
groups respond to the growing collaboration of Immigration
Customs and Enforcement (ICE) and local police.
Note: This is a fairly large PDF file – 72
pages. But it looks good for anyone dealing with
immigration issues today.
|Crossing Borders: a photo essay
encounter between Douglas, Arizona and Agua Prieta, Mexico
Text and photos
by Erin Dunigan; special to
Presbyterian News Service
DOUGLAS, Ariz. —
April 29, 2010 — The April 15-17
"Crossing Borders, Encountering
God" conference here — co-sponsored by the Synods of the Sun
and Southwest of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) and the
Presbyteries of Noroeste and Israel of the National Presbyterian
Church of Mexico — brought together close to 200 participants
from both churches for worship, workshops, teaching and learning
from one another about the complex border relations between the
two countries and churches.
One group of 11
participants engaged in a border encounter between Douglas and
Agua Prieta on the Mexican side of the border.
Click here for a powerful glimpse of the border experience >>
press for immediate immigration reform
In wake of Arizona legislation, three say "broken immigration
system" must be fixed
by Jerry L. Van Marter,
Presbyterian News Service
LOUISVILLE — May 3, 2010 — Three top leaders
of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) have sent a letter to
members of the U.S. Congress insisting on the enactment of
"comprehensive immigration reform this year."
In their April 29 letter, General Assembly
Moderator Bruce Reyes-Chow, General Assembly Stated Clerk Gradye
Parsons and General Assembly Mission Council Executive Director
Linda Valentine said "we are keenly aware of the devastating
effects our broken immigration system has on the lives of
individuals, immigrant and non-immigrant families, and our
Citing Leviticus 19:33-34, the three PC(USA)
leaders said "as Christians we cannot stand by idly" while
legislation such as the statute enacted last week by Arizona
rips apart families and fails to offer “the most basic of
The full text of the April 29 letter, signed
by Reyes-Chow, Parsons and Valentine:
We write to express our conviction that
you must enact comprehensive immigration reform this year.
As people of faith and the leaders of the Presbyterian
Church (U.S.A.), we are keenly aware of the devastating
effects our broken immigration system has on the lives of
individuals, immigrant and non-immigrant families, and our
communities. The bigotry, trauma, and fear that will result
from the recent new law enacted in Arizona, SB 1070, which
criminalizes those who are found "with" undocumented persons
and requires law enforcement officers to identify and detain
such persons, serves to underscore the necessity of action
at the federal level.
Churches are on the front lines of caring
for families being ripped apart by our broken immigration
system. Traumatized citizen children left behind when
parents are deported are but one example of the ways the
current system destroys the fabric of community life, the
integrity of healthy families, and the safety of individual
persons. Church workers are also at the forefront of
offering relief and services to immigrants, regardless of
documentation status. Arizona's new law will put at risk
those workers and others who are called simply to offer the
most basic of humanitarian assistance. As Christians, we
cannot stand by idly while our brothers and sisters die on
our borders from exposure and thirst or languish in poorly
equipped detention facilities, nor should we be required to
do so by any law.
The new Arizona law also puts in jeopardy
the public safety of immigrant communities, already wary of
law enforcement for fear of deportation. Instead of new laws
that induce fear and distrust, immigrants should be
encouraged to participate with law enforcement, reporting
crimes when they are victims and offering testimony when
they are witnesses. Such trust and participation is
impossible if local law enforcement is tasked with
enforcement of federal immigration laws. SB 1070 will only
foster more fear among immigrant communities, regardless of
documentation status. Comprehensive immigration reform at
the federal level is essential to override and counteract
the damage done in Arizona by this new law.
In the Scriptures of Christians and Jews,
we are commanded, "When an immigrant resides with you in
your land, you shall not oppress the immigrant. The
immigrant who resides with you shall be to you as the
citizen among you; you shall love the immigrant as yourself
for you were immigrants in the land of Egypt" (Lev.
19:33-34). The Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) therefore
supports congressional action in 2010 on comprehensive
immigration reform that creates a process for undocumented
immigrants in the U.S. to earn their legal status; reduces
waiting periods and upholds family unity; protects workers
from exploitation; and provides efficient channels of entry
for new migrant workers.
If you care about a more multicultural
church, and one more welcoming to immigrants ...
May 16th is Multicultural
Join us on May 16 to celebrate Multicultural
Church Sunday. Multicultural Church Sunday is a date on which
congregations are invited to intentionally organize
multicultural worship that seek to recognize, celebrate and
incorporate a diverse membership in worship by using music,
hymns, languages, arts and theological expressions that reflect
the diverse makeup of the church’s community.
You might want to include something about
Immigration or our New Immigrant brothers and sisters on that
Learn more >>
|Don't miss the 11th National Multicultural Church
May 26-30, 2010
Pre-conferences May 26-27, 2010
more information and to register >>
conference explores the theme, “H20: Deepening our Faith,
Widening our Culture” focusing on the biblical vision of Ezekiel
seeks to explore “growing the Christ’s church deep and wide” in
an increasingly diverse world. The conference is a place of
differences. People with varying languages, cultures,
ethnicities, theologies, genders, generations and backgrounds
will come together to recognize the amazing potential of
differences and, through affirming and celebrating those
differences, create something new.
Religious leaders say new Arizona
immigration law is unjust, dangerous and contrary to biblical
the National Council of Churches >>
New York, April
26, 2010 – The National Council of Churches and other religious
organizations have sharply criticized Arizona's new immigration
law as fundamentally unjust, dangerous to citizens and
non-citizens alike, and a rejection of centuries-old biblical
precepts of justice and neighborliness.
The Rev. Dr.
Michael Kinnamon, NCC General Secretary, who last week urged
Arizona Governor Jan Brewer to veto the legislation, reiterated
the view of NCC member communions and Arizona religious leaders
"that this legislation will not contribute to the reform of our
nation's immigration system" and may stimulate similar
anti-immigrant legislation throughout the country.
signed the measure into law April 23.
The new law makes
it a crime to fail to carry immigration documents and gives law
enforcement authority to detain anyone suspected of being in the
"In addition to
the basic unjustness of the law, the fact that police now have
vaguely defined but broad powers to stop anyone on suspicion of
being an undocumented immigrants creates an unacceptable
potential for wide-spread police harassment and creates a danger
for citizens as well as non-citizens, " Kinnamon said.
The Rev. Dr.
David Leslie, Executive Director of the Ecumenical Ministries of
Oregon and chair of the National Council of Churches/Church
World Service Immigration Task Force, said, "The task force is
committed to further mobilizing churches across the nation to
oppose this type of legislation in other states, as well as work
for the overturning of the legislation in Arizona. We will also
continue our efforts to push forward real immigration reform
based on the shared religious principles of true justice,
dignity of all people and the rule of law that protects all
In signing the
bill, Governor Brewer said she would ensure that the police are
trained to implement the law without violating citizen's rights.
But she contended the law provides an indispensable tool for the
police in a border state where illegal immigration is rife. She
said racial profiling would not be tolerated, adding, “We have
to trust our law enforcement.”
expressed doubt the law could be enforced with that kind of
"This law will
detract law enforcement from dealing with the criminal element,
increase racial profiling, (and) cause even greater distress to
families and society in general as large immigrant populations
would be pushed even further into the shadows of our
communities, " he said.
In addition, the
law undermines "the efforts of institutions like the ones we
serve to build communities of justice and peace for all people,"
U.S.’s toughest immigration law
is signed in Arizona
New York Times reported on April 23, 2010, from Phoenix,
Gov. Jan Brewer of Arizona signed the
toughest illegal immigration bill in the country into law on
Friday, aimed at identifying, prosecuting and deporting
illegal immigrants. The governor’s move unleashed immediate
protests and reignited the divisive battle over immigration
Even before she signed the bill at a 4:30
p.m. news conference here, President Obama strongly
criticized it. Speaking at a naturalization ceremony for 24
active-duty service members in the Rose Garden, he called
for a federal overhaul of immigration laws — an overhaul
that Congressional leaders signaled they were preparing to
take up soon.
Saying the failure of officials in
Washington to act on immigration would open the door to
“irresponsibility by others,” he said the Arizona bill
threatened “to undermine basic notions of fairness that we
cherish as Americans, as well as the trust between police
and our communities that is so crucial to keeping us safe.”
The rest of this report >>
The Christian Science Monitor offers a more ho-hum
Arizona immigration bill: just the latest among
immigration bill, which the president called 'irresponsible' and
'misguided' on Friday, is one of many state initiatives
introduced in the absence of strong national immigration reform.
And among some Arizonans, a call for “noncompliance” —
This note comes
to us from the Rev. Trina Zelle,
Interim Pastor at
University Presbyterian Church,
Phoenix, Arizona, and a former co-moderator of the Witherspoon
A few local Presbyterians put together a
website after last week's immigration conference, in
anticipation of the governor signing SB 1070. The
www.1070ipledge.net. You can read our
statement and sign on online or download the form.
The comments that are coming in with the
signatures are heartening. We'll be putting up a
comments page soon.
Many are protesting
Arizona legislation requiring police crack-down and
criminalization of “unauthorized” immigrants
Borders” conference issues statement on immigration reform
By Erin Dunigan, Special to Presbyterian
PHOENIX, Ariz. — April 22, 2010 — After two
years of planning, the timing of the April 15-17 "Crossing
Borders, Encountering God" conference seemed so perfect as to be
"We are gathered here to have this conference
around issues of immigration and borders and on the very day we
gather we have these two events — ICE (Immigration and Customs
Enforcement) raids throughout Arizona and the passage of Arizona
Senate Bill 1070, mandating law enforcement to determine
immigration status, going to the governor's desk," said the Rev.
Mark Adams, director of Frontera de Cristo Ministries and a
member of the conference planning team.
Co-sponsored by the Synods of the Sun and
Southwest of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) and the Synods of
Noroeste and Israel of the National Presbyterian Church of
Mexico — the conference brought together close to 200
participants from both churches for worship, workshops, teaching
and learning from one another about the complex border relations
between the two countries and churches.
"It was the gravity of the 'non-welcome' for
the stranger among us by our government on both a federal and a
state level that hit us right in the face — it was that urgency
which caused us to respond and to make a statement as a people
of faith, gathered together to find out how we can respond to
the issues of immigration in faithful ways," said Adams.
Speaking out against the ICE raids, Adams
pointed out that "we are not responding against the government
going after a criminal element — we support that."
It was the way in which the raids were carried
out, Adams said, what can be construed as a public show, leaking
the information to the press, and creating a spectacle — actions
that conference participants worry will create fear in
communities among both the documented and the undocumented.
"Instead of restoring order and a sense of
safety, these raids bring fear and instability and erode the
trust between immigrant communities and local law enforcement,
creating a climate of fear," says the conference statement.
These raids happened at the same time as the
Arizona senate bill was sent to the governor's desk for
signature. Those who oppose SB 1070 say that it will mandate
police to become immigration enforcers — an unfunded mandate
that will make them determine immigration status without having
"The kairos moment of this conference
happening on the very day that we have taken on a new level in
our state and country because of the broken federal system — we
as faith communities can’t stay quiet. We have to raise our
voices," urged Adams. "We as people of faith felt like we needed
to raise our voices to encourage all people of faith and
conscience to say this is not who we want to be."
The conference statement says, "we celebrate
the diversity of our nation and the contribution of immigrants
and call for the end of the criminalization of individuals and
the destabilization of our communities."
Adams noted that this raising of voices and
the letter which came from it, is not anti-U.S. government. "We
are trying to participate in the redemption of a broken system,"
said Adams. "Any time the powerful set laws in place that
oppress the poor, the alien, the stranger — that is something
that [people of faith] have to work to change."
Click here for a brief photo essay from the
a border encounter
between Douglas, Arizona and Agua Prieta, Mexico
is also posted on the PCUSA website >>
For a more
complete report on the conference itself >>
The Latin America Working
Group in Washington, DC, states:
If allowed to
pass into law by Gov. Brewer, SB 1070 would effectively
force police to engage in racial profiling, criminalize
unauthorized migrants for 'trespassing' into Arizona, and
permit anyone to sue local agencies if they believe that the
law isn't being adequately enforced. Such policies are as
sweeping as they are dangerous.
reside in Arizona or not, Governor Brewer needs to hear that
institutionalizing racist and discriminatory policies is bad
for all of Arizona's families. Tell her to veto SB1070!
More – with suggestions for action by Arizonans as well as the
rest of us >>
Arizona's immigration bill
is a social and racial sin
Jim Wallis, as an
evangelical activist for justice, writes a very personal account
of his visit to Arizona to join in protests against the
anti-immigrant bill passed by the Arizona legislature.
law is not only mean-spirited -- it will be ineffective and
will only serve to further divide communities in Arizona,
making everyone more fearful and less safe. This radical new
measure, which crosses many moral and legal lines, is a
clear demonstration of the fundamental mistake of separating
enforcement from comprehensive immigration reform. We all
want to live in a nation of laws, and the immigration system
in the U.S. is so broken that is serving no one well. But
enforcement without reform of the system is merely cruel.
Enforcement without compassion is immoral. Enforcement that
breaks up families is unacceptable. And enforcement of this
law would force us to violate our Christian conscience,
which we simply will not do. It makes it illegal to love
your neighbor in Arizona.
The full article >>
urges people to take action for immigration reform, through
the Sojourners website >>
Along with health care
reform, immigration reform hit the news -- and the streets --
a few of the important reports on a vitally important issue:
Poll: people of faith support immigration reform, approve of
clergy speaking out
Large majorities of major religious
groups support opportunity for citizenship
A new survey of U.S. citizens who are
registered to vote by Public Religion Research Institute finds
broad support across religious groups for a comprehensive
approach to immigration reform and strong approval for clergy
speaking out on the issue. As immigration reform efforts resume
around the country, the survey provides timely data about
American voters' attitudes on the issue and the influence of
religion and values. The nationwide telephone survey of 1,201
American voters, along with two surveys of voters from Ohio
(n=402) and Arkansas (n=402), was conducted March 5С11, 2010.
The study was sponsored by the Ford Foundation.
“By a 2-to-1 margin, American voters strongly
support a comprehensive approach to immigration reform, and they
want a solution that reflects strongly held values,” said Dr.
Robert P. Jones, CEO of Public Religion Research Institute.
“More than 8-in-10 Americans – including overwhelming majorities
of white mainline Protestants, Catholics, and white evangelicals
– believe strongly that immigration reform should be guided by
the values of protecting the dignity of every person and keeping
families together as well as by such values as promoting
national security and ensuring fairness to taxpayers.”
The survey identified a significant partisan
values gap that informs different approaches to immigration.
There is general agreement among Democratic, Independent, and
Republican voters on values such as promoting national security,
securing the border, and ensuring fairness to taxpayers. On the
other hand, Democratic voters rated cultural-religious values —
such as protecting the dignity of every person, keeping families
together, the Golden Rule, and the biblical value of welcoming
the stranger — higher than Republican voters by double digits. [Hmmm,
thinks your WebWeaver.]
To read the full report >>
To read the topline questionnaire >>
To read the press release >>
immigration reform is now,” U.S. faith leaders tell White House
News release from Church World Service
WASHINGTON — March 25, 2010 — Building on the
momentum of Sunday’s massive comprehensive immigration reform
rally in Washington, the head of humanitarian agency Church
World Service, CWS advocacy staff, and a diverse group of U.S.
faith leaders met Monday [March 22] with representatives at the
White House, with Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.),
and staff of other lawmakers on Capitol Hill, to press for major
immigration reform legislation this year.
It was an issue that gained major public and
media attention over weekend -- despite the final fiery health
care debate that was still roiling at that moment in the House.
President Obama made his support for
immigration reform visible on the big screen in a video message
to the thousands of activists on the National Mall on Sunday. He
restated his “unwavering” commitment to achieving comprehensive
immigration reform and pledged “to do everything in my power to
forge a bipartisan consensus this year on this important issue.”
... CWS and its coalition partners are calling
for fair, balanced and more humane policies that support family
unity, reduce undocumented immigration, stop worker
exploitation, and allowing undocumented immigrants to rectify
and earn their legal status.
full report >>
Faith Leaders on Immigration: Peaceful,
Powerful, and Prophetic
Another good report on the visits to Congress comes from
Allison Johnson, the campaign coordinator of Christians for
Comprehensive Immigration Reform. She cites Sen. Harry Reid,
among others, as testifying to the impact the visits, as well as
the demonstrations, had on legislators last week.
to call home”
Ecumenical Advocacy Days calls for justice
for immigrants, refugees, displaced people
Presbyterian News Service reported from
Arlington, Va., on March 22:
The ninth annual gathering of Ecumenical
Advocacy Days opened with an enthusiastic show of support for
faith-based social justice work.
The Rev. Michael Kinnamon, general secretary
of the National Council of Churches, asked the 700 participants
[including about 100 Presbyterians] to raise their hands if they
thought the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. was a better theologian
than Glenn Beck. The conservative radio and TV show host
recently encouraged his audience to leave their churches if they
hear the words ‘social justice’ or ‘economic justice.’
The event focused this year on the need for
immigration reform, on which Kinnamon commented: “This is
not a call for tolerance. It is a call for hospitality.”
PNS report >>
Stop Texas from erasing Cesar Chavez and Hispanics from
school books [1-9-10]
This call for action comes from the United
We urgently need your help to stop the Texas
state Board of Education from erasing Cesar Chavez and
all Hispanic historical figures from public school text books.
Since Texas is such a major textbook purchaser, such a move
could have a nationwide impact.
This Wednesday, Jan. 13, the state
board will take a preliminary vote
to adopt new standards for social studies texts.
These new standards would eliminate all Hispanics since
the conquest of Mexico in the early 16th Century.
Chavez, arguably the most important Hispanic civil rights leader
of the 20th Century, is among the historical figures to be
eliminated. One of Lowe’s so called "experts" said that Chavez
"lacks the stature…and contributions" and should not be
"held up to our children as someone worthy of emulation."
Also eliminated are a number of key Texas history makers such as
Irma Rangel, the first Hispanic woman elected to the state
Board members and their appointees have
complained about an "over representation of minorities"
in the current social studies standards.
This is ironic as Hispanics will soon comprise
the majority of all Texas public school students.
Please take a few moments right now to
send board Chair Lowe an e-mail.
Tell the TX State Board of Education not to allow a handful of
ideological extremists to revise history by eliminating people
Please click here to act now.
For our older posts on
Some blogs worth visiting
Mitch Trigger, PVJ's
Secretary/Communicator, has created a Facebook page where
Witherspoon members and others can gather to exchange news and
views. Mitch and a few others have posted bits of news, both
personal and organizational. But there’s room for more!
You can post your own news and views,
or initiate a conversation about a topic of interest to you.
for Life" website
Long-time and stimulating blogger John Shuck,
a Presbyterian minister currently
serving as pastor of First Presbyterian Church of Elizabethton,
Tenn., writes about spirituality, culture, religion (both organized
and disorganized), life, evolution, literature, Jesus, and
Click here for his blog posts.
Click here for podcasts of his radio program, which "explores
the intersection of religion, social justice and public life."
John Harris’ Summit to
Theological and philosophical
reflections on everything between summit to shore, including
kayaking, climbing, religion, spirituality, philosophy, theology,
The Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.), New York City and the Queens
neighborhood of Ridgewood -- by a progressive New York City
Presbyterian Pastor. John is a former member of the Witherspoon
board, and is designated pastor of North Presbyterian Church in
Voices of Sophia blog
Heather Reichgott, who has created
this new blog for Voices of Sophia, introduces it:
After fifteen years of scholarship
and activism, Voices of Sophia presents a blog. Here, we present the
voices of feminist theologians of all stripes: scholars, clergy,
students, exiles, missionaries, workers, thinkers, artists, lovers
and devotees, from many parts of the world, all children of the God
in whose image women are made. .... This blog seeks to glorify God
through prayer, work, art, and intellectual reflection. Through
articles and ensuing discussion we hope to become an active and
Got more blogs to recommend?
send a note, and we'll see what we can do!