Broaden the conversation about immigration reform

The current issue of "The Christian Citizen" focuses on the church and the challenge of the immigration issue.

The Church and the Challenge of Immigration Reform is the theme of the current issue of The Christian Citizen, a publication of American Baptist Home Mission Societies (ABHMS).

It seeks to “provide resources, dispel myths and broaden the conversation,” especially about immigrants who are referred to as “undocumented,” “unauthorized” or “illegal,” says the Rev. Aundreia Alexander, J.D., ABHMS National Coordinator for Immigration and Refugee Services, in her opening editorial.

“(O)n the highly charged immigration issue, the debate is fueled by a great deal of misinformation,” Alexander writes. “Strong passions blended with inaccurate information can lead to chaos…. It is my prayer that we will all pause and assess the immigration issue from the ethic of Christian love …. The lens of love replaces ‘otherness’ with the view that everyone, regardless of difference, is one of us.”

Contents of the 20-page issue include “Myths vs. Facts,” “Immigration as a Biblical Issue,” “What Every Pastor Should Know/Lo que todo pastor o pastora debe saber,” and “Hope Through National Reform.”

Jen Smyers, CWS Associate for Immigration and Refugee Policy, contributed the article “Seeking God’s Law in Immigration Policies.” She offers a graphic example of how complex, expensive and extremely slow the U.S. immigration system is: There are more than 185 types of immigrant visas, and the wait for one can last years, even decades.

“There is no line for those without legal status,” she writes, and “no mechanism for undocumented immigrants to apply for legal status while in the United States, and if they leave they will automatically be barred from returning for three or 10 years.”

“Our current immigration laws leave hard-working members of our community in fear of deportation, exploitation, and separation from their families, simply because they lack the proper paperwork and have no way out,” Smyers says. “It certainly doesn’t fit within the world of justice, mercy and redemption God calls us to seek and build.”

Offering a way forward is the Interfaith Platform on Humane Immigration Reform, she says, which “calls for practical, moral, and productive reform that will unite families, create a legal status process for the undocumented, protect workers’ rights, facilitate integration, restore due process protections, change detention policies, and ensure humane enforcement of immigration laws.”

 

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