Presentation on theme: "Evangelical Leaders Forum on Immigration Raymond Baptist Church Raymond, NH."— Presentation transcript:
Evangelical Leaders Forum on Immigration Raymond Baptist Church Raymond, NH
CONTROVERSIAL QUESTIONS Who are all these “aliens”? Why can’t they just follow the rules? Why don’t they wait their turn in line? Why don’t they immigrate the legal way, the way my ancestors did? Why don’t they learn English? I’m not an immigrant – why should I care? What part of illegal don’t they understand?
The Immigration “Problem” An estimated 12 million undocumented individuals presently in the United States For some, an “invasion” of “illegal aliens” who are destroying our culture, contributing to crime, and wrecking our economy
The Immigration “Problem” For others, an unjust situation where hard- working people are forced into the shadows and families are divided by arbitrary laws For Christians, a tension between wanting to uphold the rule of law and to welcome, love, and minister to our new immigrant neighbors—and a challenge for our churches, which include many undocumented believers
Who Are Undocumented Immigrants? According to Department of Homeland Security statistics released last month, there were 11.6 million undocumented immigrants living in the US as of January 2008 Between 40% and 50% of undocumented immigrants entered lawfully, with a non- immigrant visa, but then overstayed; the rest crossed a border illegally
Who Are Undocumented Immigrants? Most come from Latin America, but there are also millions of undocumented Asians, Europeans, and Canadians Statistics and Graphic from the Pew Hispanic Center, March 2006
Who Are Undocumented Immigrants? Families –1 in 3 families with at least one undocumented family member has at least one U.S. citizen –While only 35% of Hispanic immigrants speak English “pretty well” or “very well,” more than 90% of second- generation immigrants speak English well Over the last 10 years, 108,434 immigrants who were the parents of U.S. citizen children were removed from this country. Statistics and Graphic from the Pew Hispanic Center, March 2005 and November 2007
QUESTION: Why don’t they come the legal way, the way that my ancestors did?
A Nation of Immigrants The United States of America has always been a nation of immigrants But immigrants have always been welcomed by some and scapegoated by others
The History of American Immigration Immigrants Have Always Been Simultaneously Welcomed and Scorned Why should [immigrants] establish their Language and Manners to the Exclusion of ours? Why should Pennsylvania, founded by the English, become a Colony of Aliens who will shortly be so numerous as to [change] us instead of our Anglifying them, and will never adopt our Language or Customs, any more than they can acquire our complexion? — Benjamin Franklin, 1751, referring to the German immigrants “invading” Pennsylvania The bosom of America is open to receive not only the opulent and respectable stranger, but the oppressed and persecuted of all nations and religions, whom we shall welcome to participate to all of our rights and privileges, if by decency and propriety of conduct they appear to merit the employment. — George Washington, 1783, addressing a group of Irish immigrants
A Brief Timeline –Until 1820: Unlimited, unregulated immigration –1820-1860: The First Great Wave Mostly Irish and German Irish were fleeing potato famine Many Germans left after a failed attempted revolution in 1848 Many Catholic immigrants, who were often not welcomed by generally Protestant American society The History of American Immigration
–February 2, 1848: Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo About 100,000 Mexicans became U.S. citizens when the border crossed them Mexico lost and ceded U.S. half of its territory, including parts or all of modern day California, Nevada, Utah, Colorado, Ulysses S. Grant called the war “one of the most unjust ever waged by a stronger against a weaker nation” Important to Remember: about 70% of Hispanics living in the U.S. are U.S. citizens, mostly by birth, many for many generations The History of American Immigration
–1848-1890: Chinese Immigration & Exclusion Immigration sparked by the Gold Rush in 1848, then continued to build Transcontinental Railroad As jobs became more scarce for native workers, local laws began to target the Chinese; violence and forced displacement were common First restrictions on any “lunatic, idiot, or any person unable to take care of himself or herself without becoming a public charge” The History of American Immigration
–1882-1924: The Closing of the Golden Door 1883: Emma Lazarus pens “The Colussus” Give me your tired, your poor, Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free, The wretched refuse of your teeming shore. Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me, I lift my lamp beside the golden door! 1924 – National Origins Quota System becomes law –1924: National Origins Quota –Closed off most immigration to the United States for four decades, except for from Western Hemisphere –First requirement for a visa to enter the U.S. The History of American Immigration
–1965: The Kennedy/Johnson Reforms Shifted qualification to immigrate from national origins to family relationships and employment needs Opened immigration from Asia, Africa, and Eastern Europe (though perhaps not intentionally) The basis for our immigration laws today The History of American Immigration The History of American Immigration
QUESTION Why are so many people here without proper documents? How did we get in to this situation?
Our Immigration System Today The current structure of US immigration law provides four basic ways to get a “green card” (i.e. become a legal immigrant) –Family –Employment –Diversity –Refugee/Asylum
Our Immigration System Today Family-Based Immigration –At least 226,000 visas available annually US citizens and Legal Permanent Residents can file for their immediate families Problem: However, due to per-country limits and limited numbers of visas, there is a large backlog In some cases, wait times can be up to 22 years (for Filipino siblings of US citizens)
Family Immigration Backlogs Visa Category Citizenship Status of U.S. Family Member Relationship of Immigrant Annual Numerical Limit Length of Wait ImmediateRelative U.S. Citizen Spouse, unmarried minor child, parent No limit Several months 1 st Family Preference U.S. Citizen Unmarried adult children (21 years or older) 23,400 5 years, 8 months 2 nd A Family Preference U.S. Legal Permanent Resident Spouse, minor child 87,90 4 years, 9 months 2 nd B Family Preference U.S. Legal Permanent Resident Unmarried adult children (21 years or older) 26,300 9 years, 8 months 3 rd Family Preference U.S. Citizen Married Adult children 23,400 8 years 4 th Family Preference U.S. Citizen Brothers and sisters 65,000 11 years
Our Immigration System Today Employment-Based Immigration –140,000 Permanent Resident visas annually Primarily for immigrants with “extraordinary ability” and “holding advanced degrees” Problem: Only 5,000 permanent visas for unskilled laborers Employers must prove they cannot find a U.S. worker and that employing an immigrant will not adversely affect the wages of U.S. born workers
Our Immigration System Today Diversity Lottery –50,000 visas issued annually Must have high school education or two years of professional experience to apply Odds of winning the 2009 lottery were 1 in 182 No Visa Lottery for –Mexico, the Philippines, India, China, Canada, Haiti, El Salvador, England, South Korea, and Poland, among others
Our Immigration System Today Refugees and Asylees –70,000 refugees annually in recent years –25,000 asylees Legally, refugees and asylees are individuals whom the US recognizes as fleeing or facing a legitimate fear of persecution on account of: –Race –Religion –National Origin –Political Opinion –Membership in a Particular Social Group –(not poverty, natural disasters, health issues, etc.)
Our Immigration System Today Most people who are undocumented probably do not qualify for any of these paths to a green card We can tell people “immigrate the legal way” and to “wait their turn in line,” but for many there is no line to get into About 12 million people have come anyway, and are now undocumented
QUESTION What are some common myths/misunderstandings about immigration that need to be clarified?
Truth and Fiction about Undocumented Immigrants Myth: Undocumented Immigrants do not pay taxes Fact: The Social Security Administration estimates that 3 out of 4 undocumented immigrants have payroll, Social Security, and Medicare taxes deducted from their paychecks –Social Security Administration receives $6 to $7 billion per year in withholdings that do not match a valid Social Security number, mostly from undocumented immigrants –But they are ineligible to benefit from Social Security or Medicare, and from almost all public benefits and services –Many undocumented immigrants file taxes each year using an “Individual Taxpayer Identification Number” (ITIN)
Truth and Fiction about Undocumented Immigrants Myth: Immigrants are a drain on our welfare system and receive many welfare benefits Fact: –Undocumented Immigrants are not eligible to receive any welfare benefits –In most states, the only two services undocumented immigrants can receive are education (children can attend schools K-12) and emergency health care (if immigrants go to an emergency room for a medical emergency) –Even lawful immigrants are ineligible for many public benefit programs for at least five years after their admission
Truth and Fiction about Undocumented Immigrants Myth: Immigrants don’t share our values Fact: Immigrants often come from countries with stronger family values and community orientation than our own –Many immigrants are fellow Christians who are attending churches in greater numbers –Immigrants are infusing life into dying churches and denominations
Truth and Fiction about Undocumented Immigrants Myth: Immigrants don’t want to speak English Fact: 35% of Hispanic immigrants speak “pretty well” or “very well,” but by the second generation, nearly all speak English fluently English as a Second Language classes are full throughout much of the United States, with wait lists Almost all immigrants want to learn English, and know that doing so will improve their earnings potential in the US as well, but their full work schedules and family responsibilities can make it challenging, especially for older immigrants
QUESTION: What part of “illegal” don’t you understand? It’s fine to welcome immigrants, but the Bible isn’t talking about illegal immigrants, is it?
The Special Challenge of Illegal Immigration Scripture clearly instructs us to follow the law –Romans 13 “everyone must submit himself to the governing authorities” since “the authorities that exist have been established by God.” those who disobey the civil authority should expect judgment from that same authority, which “does not bear the sword for nothing.”
The Special Challenge of Illegal Immigration Romans 13 needs to be applied on two levels –Churches can minister to immigrants’ physical needs, preach the gospel, and advocate for policy changes, all without violating the law –Undocumented Immigrants need to wrestle with what Romans 13 for themselves, considering both the command to respect the law and the command to provide for one’s family (1 Timothy 5:8) passages that extol family unity (Psalm 133:1)
The Special Challenge of Illegal Immigration Seeking justice means asking not just “what is the law?” but “is the law itself just?” While Romans 13 cannot be dismissed, it is also clear in Scripture that “we must obey God rather than men” (Acts 5:29) Throughout Scripture and church history, unjust laws have been challenged, resisted, and subverted –Moses’ and Jesus’ parents both worked around laws that would have killed their children –Many churches send missionaries to countries where it is illegal to preach the gospel –Heroes of the Civil Rights era defied unjust laws by sit- ins, boycotts, and marches
The Special Challenge of Illegal Immigration Insisting that the rule of law is important does not necessarily mean that our only option is to deport all those unlawfully present For those out of status, we can insist that the rule of law is important and advocate for restitution for having violated the law (such as a fine) that would not separate families
Immigrants and the Church Immigrant congregations are growing faster than any other category of evangelical churches There is one Church – one Body, one Spirit, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all (Ephesians 4:4-6) –Each part of the Body is indispensable (1 Corinthians 12:14-25) – so our immigrant brothers and sisters need us, and we need them –When one part suffers, every part suffers – and immigrant brothers and sisters are suffering under current policy (1 Corinthians 12:26)
Immigrants and the Church While many view immigration as a threat, for the Church it is a great missional opportunity –Many immigrants arrive in the U.S. and bring a vibrant evangelical faith with them, revitalizing our churches –Others arrive in U.S. having never heard or accepted the gospel, so we have the privilege to share it with them –We are commanded to make disciples of all nations (Matthew 28:19-20); through immigration, the nations arrive at our doorstep Our response to immigrants and to questions of immigration policy—whether “welcome!” or “go home!”–will define how immigrants respond to the gospel we preach
QUESTION: What is the government doing about immigration?
How Should the Government Respond? World Relief has advocated Comprehensive Immigration Reform (CIR) that would include the following four components: –Reduction in the Backlogs for Family Reunification –New legal mechanisms for immigrant workers and their families to enter the US –An earned legalization for undocumented immigrants who meet certain qualifications, with an ultimate pathway to citizenship –Humane border security policies to keep our country safe
Immigration and Politics Immigration and Politics Immigration was debated in 2006 and 2007 in the Senate but immigration bills failed both times –The bill enjoyed wide bipartisan support then –Offices received negative calls at a rate of 10:1 to positive calls Currently, President Obama supports Comprehensive Immigration Reform (CIR) –It’s critical that the Senate debate immigration before November 2010 and that a 2 nd Republican in the Senate supports CIR –The faith community can play an integral role in supporting CIR
Evangelicals on Immigration Bill and Lynne Hybels –Founders, Willow Creek Community Church Joel Hunter –Senior Pastor, Northland- A Church Distributed Leith Anderson –President, National Association of Evangelicals –Assemblies of God, Evangelical Free Church of America, Church of the Nazarenes, Mission Exchange, etc. Richard Land –President, Southern Baptist Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission Michael Gerson –President Bush’s former speechwriter Chuck Colson –Founder, Prison Fellowship
QUESTION: How can churches, mission organizations or concerned Christ-followers get involved? What should our response be, and what should the government’s response be?
How Can We Respond? Prayer Listening Education Advocacy Service Evangelism
Prayer Scripture tells us to “pray without ceasing” (1 Thes. 5:17) – so prayer should be at the beginning, middle, and end of our engagement with this issue We are called to pray “for kings and all those in authority” (1 Tim. 2:1-2) This issue is a huge issue, and none of us has the authority to change the structural problems in the immigration system… but God does “The king's heart is in the hand of the LORD; he directs it… wherever he pleases” (Prov. 21:1)
Listening and Learning To really understand this issue, we need to listen – –To Scripture – –And to the stories of our immigrant brothers and sisters It’s easy – until we have heard the stories of immigrants, and realized that many of them are our brothers and sisters, and not altogether unlike us – to over-simplify this issue -Building relationships with immigrants and intentionally entering with a humble posture of listening and learning is vital - “There should be no division in the body, but that its parts should have equal concern for each other. If one part suffers, every part suffers with it; if one part is honored, every part rejoices with it” (1 Cor. 12:25-26).
Learn about immigration through your classes and through your own reading World Relief or other ministries that work with immigrants may be helpful in connecting churches and individuals with volunteer opportunities that can facilitate mutual learning Education
Advocacy Stay up-to-date on what is happening in Washington: send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org to be informed of pending legislation email@example.com –Call, write to, or visit your congressperson, senators, and the president to ask them to support Comprehensive Immigration Reform –Speak up for immigrants when you hear or read rumors and myths about them
Service There are many ways for a church to serve the immigrants in their community English classes “Friendship Partners” to help newly arrived immigrants adjust to a new culture With proper training and governmental recognition, providing legal services
Evangelism We’re called to “make disciples of all nations” (Matt. 28:19): immigration provides the opportunity to do so without leaving our neighborhoods As we befriend, serve, and advocate with immigrants, we have the opportunity to share the gospel, the good news of a transformative relationship with Jesus Christ Evangelism opportunities occur both in church— through individual friendships and conversations
Book Resources Advocacy@wr.org 443-451-1969 CONTACT Welcoming the Stranger Christians at the Border