Provided by Central Pastoral Office for Hispanic Ministries of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ)
These answers are intended to be a resource for Disciples pastors, regional ministers and other leaders who are grappling with concerns and questions related to immigrants and immigration in local ministry.
While we often think of all the undocumented people as having sneaked into the country, 40 percent have merely stayed past the expiration of their visa. Many others were brought into the country without proper documentation by their parents. The rest found no other way to enter the country through our current system, and so came illegally.
Thirty percent of all immigrants to the United States (and more than 50 percent of undocumented immigrants) in recent years have been from Mexico, which influences our view of immigration as an issue. Another 7 percent of all immigrants are from Central America, but around half of all American immigrants are not of Latin American or Caribbean descent, so we should not leave them out of the conversation. Many immigrants other than Hispanics are struggling with these same issues.
Short answer: No.
The longer answer is that there is no law that currently exits that requires citizens to report a known undocumented immigrant to any authority. Nor is there any law that exists that says citizens cannot welcome undocumented immigrants into their lives, drive them to doctors’ appointments, teach them English, watch their children and help them with their schoolwork, and advocate on their behalf. A believer can stand in full compliance to governmental authorities while still welcoming and building relationships with undocumented individuals and families. It is also important to recognize that there is no conflict between the submission to authority mandated in Romans 13 and serving undocumented immigrants: we can minister to immigrants’ physical needs, help to teach them English, share the good news of the gospel, and advocate for just policies that would better their situation, all without violating the law. Since we live in a democracy, we can advocate for immigration policies that are both welcoming of immigrants and maintain the importance of the rule of law. We can also seek justice as God commands (Micah 6:8) by addressing the structures of poverty that create the situations from which immigrants feel they must flee.
It is important to note that while there is no duty to report, you cannot lawfully hire a known undocumented individual. A helpful clarification on this point is that while a church cannot hire someone who is undocumented, they can reimburse someone who is undocumented for any expenses incurred while volunteering (i.e. travel costs, purchasing of materials, etc.).
According to the August 2013 governmental reports (Visa Bulletin) our immigration services are now processing some visa applications for those from Mexico who filed an application 20 years ago in September 1993. So, for some Mexican nationals, right now the line is approximately 20 years long. Not all can apply for a visa either. The above “ideal” situation is for someone entering that was petitioned for by a family member. One can enter the county legally for certain employment, an advance degree or extraordinary abilities. There is a diversity visa lottery but that is only possible for “under-represented” countries. Refugee status can be sought for those fleeing persecution due to race, religion, national origin, political opinion, or membership in a particular social group. And finally one can apply for family-based reasons. The reality is that there are people in our churches waiting for a legitimate family-based visa.
U.S. immigration policies have not kept pace with global realities and our economy’s need for immigration. The last major reform came over 27 years ago.
In a Wall Street Journal Study, 44 of 46 economists said they are in fact beneficial for the economy.
In fact, 3 out of 4 undocumented workers do pay taxes and the government has taken in as much as $12 billion annually as a result.
Matthew 25:35, is the most compelling passage, where Jesus says that by welcoming a stranger (in the original language, an alien to our land, an immigrant), we may be welcoming him.
In the original language, the word hospitality literally means loving the stranger or the immigrant. We often think of hospitality as only having friends over for dinner or letting extended family stay at your house for the weekend, but it really means welcoming the stranger into your life. This theme of hospitality runs throughout Scripture and is tied directly to the practice of love of the stranger/immigrant.
Repeatedly in Scripture, God shows his heart specifically for the “triad of the vulnerable” including the immigrant, the orphan, and the widow. Through the Psalmist he said: “God watches over the foreigner and sustains the fatherless, and deprive the foreigners among you of justice” with adulterers, sorcerers, saying each will face God’s judgment. God commanded his people not to mistreat or oppress an immigrant precisely because “they know what it’s like to be an immigrant, because they were immigrants in the land of Egypt.” God’s people are called to “Treat them (the immigrant) as if they were native-born”.
First, it is not wise to try to resolve these issues on your own. As Disciples we have embraced immigration justice seriously. Our general ministries have funded the position of immigration legal counsel, housed in Disciples Home Missions, to help us with immigration law. Our attorney is Tana-Liu-Beers. You can send e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org. She also has a website: www.disciplesimmigration.org
The book is “Welcoming the Stranger” by Matthew Soerens & Jenny Hwang – ISBN 978-0-8308-3359-7
Refugee and Immigration Ministries website www.discipleshomemissions.org/refugee-immigration-ministries
Adapted from materials produced by the Wesleyan Church
You’re Invited!: Tuesday, September 14, 12 Noon ET “Afghan Welcome & Refuge” WOC/RIM Webinar Disciples throughout the country are engaging in welcome for Afghan refugees,…Read more >
Washington, DC: Earlier today, Representative Sylvia Garcia (TX-29) joined representatives from over 15 other national faith-based and immigrants’ rights groups to deliver over 300,000 petition signatures…Read more >
July 7, Tuesday, 6 pm ET/3 pm PT – Join Webinar on Dismantling Racism in Family Immigration. Black Immigrant Leaders Speak about”Dismantling Racism” Needed for…Read more >
(June 18, 2020) Today, in a 5-4 decision, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that the Trump administration cannot immediately end the Deferred Action for Childhood…Read more >
The U.S. Supreme Court is due to announce its decision soon on whether the DACA program – which has lifted up the lives and provided work…Read more >
Join Our Faith Webinar! “Detention, Asylum, Family Separation & COVID-19”, Wed., June 3, 4 PM ET/1 PM PT As people of faith, how will we respond…Read more >
Washington, DC – Earlier today, rural faith leaders and organizers gathered on a press call to discuss the impact of the coronavirus pandemic on rural…Read more >
Court’s Decision on DACA Could Be Announced as Early as Monday! Here’s What’s Needed: *JOIN “MONDAY MORNING DACA PRAYERS” online from 9:30-10 am ET each…Read more >
This LENT, Pray and Act with #FAITH4DACA. “Facing the Future, Together!” An 8 Part Devotion Series IIC Lenten FULL DEVOTIONS DACA2020 FINAL This Lent, connect, support, and…Read more >
Dear Friends, DACA IS GOING TO SUPREME COURT NOVEMBER 12th SIGN UP HERE FOR WEBINAR OCTOBER 30TH AT 3 PM ET/ 12 PM PT to learn how people…Read more >
Hello, All, Please see below information of actions all along the southern border, beginning October 1 st and throughout the month. If you are able to participate as…Read more >
Sept. 27, 2019 – Last night, the administration which two years ago cut refugee numbers from our historic average of 95,000 refugees annually to 50,000,…Read more >
“The United States should be doing more to protect refugee children, not actively participating in their oppression” Washington, DC (August 21, 2019) – Religious organizations…Read more >
Washington, DC (August 27, 2019) – The Trump administration has alerted Congress that it is raiding the budgets of other federal programs, to dedicate even…Read more >
National Faith Organizations Denounce White Supremacy in the Wake of the El Paso Shooting and Call on the Administration to Welcome Immigrants The Rev. Teresa…Read more >
I cry aloud to God, aloud to God, and he will hear me In the day of my trouble I seek the Lord; in the night…Read more >
“Whoever goes to the Lord for safety, whoever remains under the protection of the Almighty,can say to God, ‘You are my defender and protector. You…Read more >
Today, as World Refugee Day soon approaches on June 20th, Disciples Refugee & Immigration Ministries sent this letter to all US legislators, expressing our commitment…Read more >
Seven Disciples leaders from Arizonia; including Rev. Jay Deskins, Rev. Kelley Dick, Rev. Job Cobos, Rev. Bob Howard, Rev. Al Beasley, Dave Coatworth, and Lauryn…Read more >
Rev. Terri Hord Owens publicly stated support for Dreamers, Temporary Protected Status (TPS) and Deferred Enforced Departure (DED) recipients on Monday when she said: “The…Read more >
Disciples Friends of Refugees, This year, the administration has set a national U.S. refugee admissions goal at 30,000 – the lowest level in U.S. history….Read more >
Avoiding a shutdown, Congress passed a funding bill late this week that included remaining FY 2019 appropriations. Among the seven areas funded was the Department…Read more >
January 27, marked the second anniversary of the Muslim Ban. During this time, we’ve seen firsthand the painful human impacts of negative administrative changes and…Read more >
The Rev. Dr. Sharon Stanley-Rea, Director of Disciples Refugee & Immigration Ministries, was among a delegation of Christian leaders who delivered a welcome message to…Read more >
Please see and share here our 2018 Advent and Epiphany Devotions: Advent 2018 IIC Devotions . This year, we invite you to join in a spiritual…Read more >
Learn more about Asylum Seekers, and How You Can Help by going here: https://www.discipleshomemissions.org/missions-advocacy/refugee-immigration-ministries/immigrants/ Rev. Terri Hord Owens joined other national faith leaders this morning…Read more >
Want to learn more about immigrants in your own state? Go here for state by state Fact Sheets from the American Immigration Council!Read more >
This month, the administration named a refugee resettlement goal that is the historically lowest number ever (only 30,000)–despite the highest number of global refugees than…Read more >
“My name is Karen Evans. I’ve had the opportunity to work for the last four years in a volunteer ESL program, and work with the…Read more >
“I’m Mike Simonson, with Downtown Disciples in Des Moines, and I’m also one of the chairs of the Missions Committee for the Disciples General Assembly…Read more >
“My name is Amy Spangler-Dunning. I am a clergy person in the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ), in the Upper Northwest. I am also a…Read more >
“Hi, I’m Chrissy Stonebraker-Martinez, Co-Director, Inter-Religious Task Force on Central America & Colombia in Cleveland, Ohio. I just want you all to know we have…Read more >
“It’s my joy and blessing to be the pastor of Downtown Disciples in Des Moines, Iowa. I wanted to tell you about two refugees I…Read more >
Responding to Secretary Pompeo’s recent press conference that set refugee admissions goal at 30,000 during the worst refugee crisis in human history, members of the…Read more >
Disciples Refugee & Immigration Ministries sponsors and speaks at a White House Press Conference on September 12 to urge that 75,000 refugees be resettled in…Read more >
Saguaro Christian Church in Tucson, AZ. recently began holding daily prayer vigils in support of separated children and families. See and join them in prayer…Read more >
Please see here a video of Disciples—including RIM Director, Capitol Area Regional Minister, and other Disciples clergy—assisting children, adults, and faith leaders in yesterday’s action…Read more >
Washington, D.C., June 13, 2018 — Speaker Paul Ryan has promised his caucus they will vote on at least two anti-immigrant bills next week, as…Read more >
In recent days, deeply offensive rhetoric has again been issued against immigrant communities by President Trump and White House Chief of Staff John Kelly. Disciples…Read more >
The Rev. Terri Hord Owens, General Minister and President of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) in the United States and Canada, spoke on a…Read more >
In a letter delivered to the administration on April 27, 2018, 122 faith-based organizations and 518 faith leaders from across traditions stand united in calling…Read more >
“With timing that has painfully come the very day following the devastating earthquakes in Nepal three years ago, we stand as faith partners together with…Read more >
Washington, D.C. – Faith leaders held a footwashing service in the shadow of the White House this afternoon.The biblical practice of footwashing is part of…Read more >
“I continue to be deeply disturbed by the random choices that this administration makes in removing TPS and other protected statuses. Last night’s decision to…Read more >
The current designation of “Deferred Enforced Departure” (DED) that is currently protecting nearly 4,000 Liberians in the U.S. is set to expire on MARCH 31st…Read more >
Today, seven Disciples affiliated clergy, Rev. Linda McCrae, Rev. Carolyn Higginbotham, Rev. Jim Higginbotham, Rev. Jon Barnes, Rev. Dawn Barnes, Rev. Sandra Gourdet, and Rev….Read more >
On this day when the President proclaimed DACA protections would end unless a Congressional decision was reached, dreamers remain insecure in the absence of a…Read more >
On Jan. 8, 2018, DHS terminated TPS for El Salvador, effective Sept. 9, 2019. As communities of faith, we urge the administration to reinstate TPS…Read more >
Rev. Sharon Stanley-Rea, was among the participants on a press call January 4, to urge the Department of Homeland Security to extend Temporary Protected Status…Read more >
Thank you for your partnership in acting to support refugees and immigrants in 2017–and join us in ongoing actions for justice in 2018!! Sign up…Read more >
Disciples are among Christian leaders and activists who held hands and sang in an unlawful demonstration inside of the Russell Senate office building in Washington,…Read more >
Prepare now to plan Dream Sabbath Events! Check out these resources for ways you can participate.Read more >
WASHINGTON, DC — Today, October 17th at 11 a.m., local interfaith clergy will host a rally to call on the Trump administration to preserve Temporary…Read more >
The Rev. Sharon Stanley-Rea traveled to Italy to participate in “Living and Witnessing the Border.” An International Conference on Migration, Borders and Reception, September 29…Read more >
Join the Interfaith Immigration Coalition for this webinar to learn how communities of faith can participate in “Dream Sabbath” events that lift up the stories,…Read more >
CONGRESSWOMAN SCHAKOWSKY, FAITH LEADERS, AND REFUGEES URGE CONGRESS TO STOP TRUMP FROM SHUTTING THE DOOR ON REFUGEES On morning of the Trump administration’s consultation with…Read more >
On Tuesday, Sept. 5, the U.S. administration announced an end to the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program that has protected children brought to…Read more >
Please sign the faith letter & call your leaders today & tomorrow to urge DACA not to be ended, join our DACA & TPS Emergency…Read more >
On Monday, July 10th, Disciples Refugee & Immigration Ministries’ Director joined with Immigration Legal Counsel, the National Benevolent Association, the Central Pastoral Office office of…Read more >
RIM’s Director (a board member with Southeast Asian Resource Action Center) was grateful to join this a.m. in speaking at Press Conference outside the White…Read more >
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: June 26, 2017 CONTACT: email@example.com | 202.733.5151 FAITH LEADERS STAND AGAINST SCOTUS RULING ON REFUGEE AND MUSLIM BAN EXECUTIVE ORDER Call on…Read more >
Rev. Dr. Sharon Watkins, General Minister and President, Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) and Rev. Dr. Ronald Degges, President, Disciples Home Missions “Disciples are a…Read more >
“The courts have spoken yet again in favor of justice and humanity. As CWS has maintained since January, President Trump’s ill-advised travel ban should never…Read more >
The Disciples RIM Staff celebrates the 4th Circuit Appeals Court ruling in Richmond, Va. on May 25 that upheld a lower court ruling which had…Read more >
Please deliver to, scan and email, or mail your national, state, and local legislators these postcards that indicate your support for refugees, and share how…Read more >
Call on DHS Secretary Kelly to extend Temporary Protected Status for Haiti for another 18 months WASHINGTON, D.C. (May 2, 2017) — CWS and Catholic…Read more >
In the beginning of Holy Week, marking the entry of Jesus to Jerusalem, his suffering and his death, we watch with sadness and grief the…Read more >
Disciples and United Church of Christ Holy Season Statement on Violence in the Middle East and Refugees In the beginning of Holy Week, marking the…Read more >