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.
In a world becoming increasingly globalized, more people are leaving their homelands to seek better lives and opportunities in new countries. Their reasons for leaving are diverse and complex: economic necessity, war, or persecution. The U.S. has long been a nation of immigrants and we have consistently been conflicted about this. We gratefully welcome immigrants and their contributions, and we exclude them, discriminate against them and, at times, inflict grave harm upon them.
As Christians, we are called to love our neighbors. The Bible is unambiguous in calling us to welcome aliens and strangers in our land, and to love them as we love ourselves. In these times, let us listen to the voice of the still-speaking God. We will learn how to respond to these new sisters and brothers residing among us.
Building Sanctuary For All... All of Us
"Shouldn’t our sanctuaries offer this same kind of Sanctuary...to anyone? Wouldn’t we want this grace, and do we not call upon this kind of love every Sunday?" Read more of Rev. Julian DeShazier's reflection on Immigrants Rights Sunday and intersectionality.
The resurgence of the Sanctuary Movement works to provide protection in our houses of worship for those facing violence, discrimination, and deportation. We organize as people of faith and moral courage accompanying the most marginalized among us targeted by President-elect Trump's hateful rhetoric and policy proposals. We lift up the prophetic and moral witness of communities of faith against the unjust systems of power and privilege that keep our communities from living with the safety and dignity they deserve as human beings.
Now, more than ever faith communities from different traditions are coming together to take a bold and prophetic stand against President-elect Trump's harsh immigration proposals and threats to end Deferred Action for Childhood Arrival.
- Sanctuary FAQ - Webinar via UCC Insurance Boards - Heather Kimmel, General Counsel for the United Church of Christ, addresses the current interest of faith communities in operating as sanctuary churches, the legal risks, and ways churches can minister to undocumented persons. Watch the recording. (Note: Although you have to enter your email address and name, the webinar can be viewed by anyone.)
- Sign the Most Recent Pledge - We Pledge to Resist Deportations and Discrimination through Sanctuary
- Learn more about how to engage in this sanctuary movement and download the rapid response toolkit via SanctuaryNotDeportation.org
- For churches offering sanctuary to refugees and immigrants, the ACLU has compiled an FAQ sheet.
Immigrant Rights Sunday - May 7, 2017
The first Sunday in May has been designated Immigrant Rights Sunday within the United Church of Christ. Justice and Witness Ministries and Wider Church Ministries are urging congregations to lift up immigrants on this day: to learn about their concerns, honor their contributions to our country and communities, hear their pain, pray for their well-being, and listen to hear where God is leading us regarding issues of immigration. Learn more.
Rise Up: May 1st National Day of Action
May 1st is International Worker’s Day: a historic day to respect the contributions of workers, organize in support of workers’ rights, and demonstrate solidarity with immigrants. This May 1st, immigrant leaders of the Fair Immigration Reform Movement (FIRM) will Rise Up! to demonstrate the power, resilience and strength of immigrant communities in America.Many groups are organizing marches, rallies, protests and town hall meetings to resist President Trump’s anti-immigrant, anti-refugee, and anti-Muslim policies and call on Congress and local policy makers to support a vibrant and diverse future for our country. Check out five ways that faith communities can take part in May 1st actions via our partners at the Interfaith Immigration Coalition.
The Interfaith Immigration Coalition has created a resource to guide us through Lent. These scriptural reflections, linked as devotions with the suffering steps of refugees & immigrants, and encourage us to act on our faith and in solidarity. Download.
Raids Rapid Response: Toolkit for Faith Allies
"As faith allies, we are called to be in solidarity through rapid response mobilization to stop these raids, stop these deportations and support impacted communities. In the face of President Trump's extremist anti-immigrant agenda we must respond with a prophetic and bold voice." Download the toolkit via SanctuaryNotDeportation.org.
Take action in solidarity with Refugees
Act to oppose President Trump's action to reduce refugee admissions, grind resettlement to a halt, stop resettling refugees from certain countries, and preference religious minorities. Tell your elected officials that refugees are welcome here!
UCC advocates put 'bodies on the line' at border wall with Mexico
The push for humane immigration reform brought veterans, clergy, activists and UCC advocates to the border wall dividing the Nogales, Arizona, and Mexico communities, as part of a joint rally calling for a new model of border justice that builds bridges and relationships instead of walls and policies that create fear and division. (Read more.)
115 UCC Leaders Send Letter to Congress
The United Church of Christ works to offer an extravagant welcome to all of God’s children regardless of their national origin or citizenship status. Many of our congregations are working to become Immigrant Welcoming Congregations because we understand we have a moral imperative to welcome the most vulnerable in our midst. Together 115 UCC leaders sent a letter to Congress, urging all members to speak out in support of deferred action for families and pursue commonsense immigration reform; asking them to tell the Administration to stop the raids and end Operation Border Guardian;and calling on them to respect current U.S. asylum law, honor existing protections for victims of human trafficking, and expand legal assistance. Read the letter.
Take Action: Tell Chicago ICE: Don't deport Jose Juan, father of 5
Join Rev. Julian DeShazier and University Church in Chicago in calling on Director Wong (Chicago Field Office, ICE), Secretary Johnson (Department of Homeland Security), Director Saldaña (ICE) to use prosecutorial discretion to stop the deportation of Jose Juan Federico Moreno Anguiano and keep this family together. University Church is providing sanctuary for Mr. Moreno, a loving husband and father of five US-born children, as he fights his order of deportation.
April 2016 Update
Last month the UCC National Collaborative on Immigration held a webinar on our strategic plan to defend immigrants' rights (Stream the recording). On April 18th, Deferred Action for Childhood Arrival and Deferred Action for Parents of Americans is being heard in the Supreme Court which could benefit over 4 million undocumented people (More at Fightforfamilies). Two UCC Pastors were arrested for Civil Disobedience during Holy Week in efforts to stop the Raids in Los Angeles (UCC News). Recently the work of the Samaritans and Good Shepherd United Church of Christ was highlighted by NPR in their work to cross international borders to help migrants in the Southwest and Europe.
Blood on our hands: Stop the raids - The Hill
By Rev. John C. Dorhauer, General Minister and President of the United Church of Christ
Over the last several months, discussions around immigration policies have devolved to extremist sound bytes, with political candidates creating a new wave of anti-immigrant rhetoric to further their own agendas. Sadly, these hateful words have manifested themselves in how the United States treats immigrants. The actions of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) are endangering the lives of thousands of asylum seekers fleeing violence, persecution, and devastating poverty in Central America. (Read more.)
Immigration: Stop the Raids
At the start of the New Year the Department of Homeland Security began raiding immigrant communities in states across the country. The raids have swept up hundreds including children and families from Central America who are seeking asylum- See UCC action alert. Many UCC congregations are working to welcome these refugees and even opening their doors as part of the Sanctuary Movement. If you would like to support the Sanctuary Movement or become an Immigrant Welcoming Congregation contact email@example.com.
UCC Supports Sanctuary Cases to Stop Deportations
In Tucson and Tempe Arizona United Church Congregations Good Shepherd UCC, First Congregational of Phoenix and Shadow Rock United Church of Christ have all offered letters of support to help immigrants facing deportations to stay with their families. Southside Presbyterian Church in Tucson has offered Rosa Robles Loreto Sanctuary allowing her to live at the church for proection from immigration authorities while she seeks to win deferred action to stop her deportation order. You can stand with Rosa by signing the Groundswell petition here. Earlier this summer, Shadow Rock UCC had offered Sanctuary to Marco Tulio which helped him win an order of supervision to stay with his family.
Letters of support for Rosa Robles Loreto and Southside Presbyterian Church:
- Shadow Rock United Church of Christ in Phoenix AZ
- First Congregational United Church of Christ, Phoenix
- The Good Shepherd United Church of Christ
Responding to a Humanitarian Crisis of Unaccompanied Children on the Border
We are facing an escalating humanitarian crisis as a growing number of unaccompanied children cross the U.S.–Mexico border at an increasing and alarming rate. So far in FY 2014 alone 57,000 children have migrated to the border. It is from dire circumstances that a child chooses to migrate thousands of miles. As people of faith we have an ethical obligation to care for the most vulnerable among us. The root causes of these changing migration patterns are extreme poverty, violence, and rising homicide rates in El Salvador, Honduras and Guatemala, from which most of the children are arriving. Learn more and find ways to engage.
Our work on this issue is rooted in policy voted on by our UCC General Synod. You can find General Synod Resolutions on immigration from GS XXVIIII (2013) GS XXVI (2007), GS XIII (2001), and GS XXII (1999).
Become an immigrant welcoming congregation. The Journey toward becoming an Immigrant Welcoming Congregation involves multiple study and reflection sessions. Download this wonderful toolkit created by our UCC Southwest Conference.
No Longer Strangers: The Practice of Radical Hospitality, a book by UCC pastor Rev. Wendy J. Taylor, explores the lonely and difficult lives of migrant farm workers in Northern California and follows one woman’s compassionate response to their plight.
Behind the Wall
Video by Rev. Art Cribbs. Made possible through a grant by Neighbors in Need.
A Community Resource on Anti-Deportation Education and Organizing - revised May 2010 is a curriculum prepared by the Detention Watch Network, Families for Freedom, the Immigrant Defense Project of the National Lawyers Guild.
Understanding the DREAM Act
The education of immigrant children is not only a smart investment; as an expression of the call to love our neighbors ad ourselves, it is also a moral imperative. The issues of immigration and immigration enforcement affect the children in immigrant families and the public schools that serve those children.