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.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
It has been a difficult summer on the issue of immigration. The escalation of anti-immigrant rhetoric from Presidential candidates has stoked bad policy proposals. The House of Representatives passed H.R. 3009, which would force local police to enforce immigration laws normally regulated by Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE). The Senate will soon be considering similar bill, S.1814, that would punish local police departments that rightfully limit their collaboration with ICE in order to build trust with the communities they are sworn to protect. The UCC has been part of a multi-faith effort to stop these anti-immigrant bills. If you are a faith leader, please add your name to this sign on letter, we hope to get to 1,000 signatories before the Senate takes up S.1814 in Judiciary committee.
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.