Even Evangelicals Support Immigrant Rights

With only a week remaining before Arizona’s contentious Senate Bill 1070 becomes law, Arizona human and immigrant rights groups have found unlikely allies among the religious community.

The American Prospect reports that a growing group of evangelical Christian leaders, like Rev. Samuel Rodriguez Jr., president of the National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference, are rejecting the traditional conservative stance on immigration, instead supporting President Barack Obama’s call for comprehensive reform.

Southern Baptist and Catholic leaders are also among those who have come out in favor of a path to citizenship, according to New American Media. Following last week’s blacklist scandal in Utah, the stance on immigration reform in the Mormon Church (Utah’s dominant social institution) is under scrutiny. After the news broke of the blacklist of undocumented immigrants — which contained Social Security numbers, phone numbers, even the due dates of pregnant women — a firestorm of controversy erupted.

Many religious leaders chimed in, condemning the list and those who compiled it. However, Mormon clergy have come under fire for remaining neutral on the issue of immigration, despite the Church’s high-profile public support for Prop 8, the gay marriage ban.

Voicing Dissent

Opponents of SB 1070 are pulling out all the stops and preparing for a “statewide mobilization” in Arizona on July 29th. Activists are planning rallies, vigils and civil disobedience protests to be held across the state.

Jennifer Allen, director of the Border Action Network, is helping organize the statewide mobilization. She says that the immigrant rights community isn’t in favor of illegal immigration, but rather a better path to citizenship and an alternative to the enforcement-only approach to dealing with immigration. Speaking to Public News Service, Allen explained her position:

“I have yet to meet somebody who’s undocumented that wouldn’t prefer to be here with documents and prefer to be here legally. We need a system and a policy in which people can come out of the shadows, can come into this country in a safe and legal way.”


Immigration protests aren’t just happening in Arizona, as Campus Progress reports. Advocates of the DREAM Act, legislation that would create a pathway for young undocumented students to live in the United States legally, are taking their message all the way to Washington, D.C. As part of a week of action called “The DREAM is Coming”, DREAM Activists conducted a sit in at the Capitol building, during which twelve participants were arrested. All twelve, who were charged with disorderly conduct, are believed to be undocumented immigrants, and face possible deportation.

Arpaio’s ‘Tent City’

Meanwhile, back in Arizona, law enforcement officials are preparing to begin enforcing SB 1070 next week. As Suzy Khimm reports for Mother Jones, Joe Arpaio, sheriff of Maricopa County, AZ, is ready, willing and able to enforce the new law in his signature tyrannical style, imprisoning immigrants in his infamous “Tent City”. Arpaio has announced that “Tent City” can accommodate over 1,000 new prisoners in the oppressively hot desert. This alternative prison is just one of Arpaio’s many extreme anti-immigrant policing strategies. Khimm writes:

“‘I put them up next to the dump, the dog pound, the waste-disposal plant,’ Arpaio once said of his tactics, which have also included chain gangs (for men and women), public parades in pink underwear (for men only), and massive illegal-immigration sweeps. Arpaio’s tactics have earned him the nickname ‘Hitler’ among Tent City inmates”

National Guard deployed to Arizona

With tensions along the border heating up as July 29 approaches, President Barack Obama has ordered 1,200 National Guard troops to be deployed to Arizona, Texas, New Mexico and California. The troops will begin one-year assignments at the border on August 1st. They will be charged with bolstering the military presence and patrolling the border, but won’t directly enforce laws. Instead they’ll aid in policing drug trafficking and migration, and reporting border-crossers to law enforcement.

According to ColorLines, Arizona Governor Jan Brewer has called the deployment insufficient, complaining that it isn’t “tied to a strategy to comprehensively defeat the increasingly violent drug- and alien-smuggling cartels that operate in Arizona on a daily basis.” Colorlines also reports that in addition to the 1,200 troops, President Obama will be sending $500 million for increased border patrol.

Victories for women

Recent news on immigration reform hasn’t been all bad. As Ms. Magazine reports, women asylum seekers have won an important and somewhat surprising victory. The 9th Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco has ruled that women fleeing femicide are eligible to apply for asylum. As Carrie Baker notes, the decision sets an important precedent.

“[The] case builds on the idea that women’s rights are human rights by asking the government to take gender-based harm as seriously as it takes harms based on political belief, race, nationality or religion. The Perdomo decision is revolutionary in its implicit recognition of a state’s responsibility to remedy violence against women.”

Finally, Areli E. Padilla of New American Media reports that 106-year-old Ignacia Moya, born in the Mexican city of Guadalajara, Jalisco, has become an American citizen after her second attempt. According to the report, “Wearing a blue, red and white blouse representing the American flag, Moya celebrated the occasion with her two sons and some of her 20 grandchildren, 15 great-grandchildren and 12 great-great-grandchildren.”

This post features links to the best independent, progressive reporting about immigration by members of The Media Consortium. It is free to reprint. 

photo credit: thanks to greg westfall. via flickr for the amazing image
Note: this is a picture of all saints' episcopal church in fort worth, texas
by Annie Shields, Media Consortium blogger


LMj Sunshine
James merritt jr6 years ago

Thank you.

LMj Sunshine
James merritt jr6 years ago

Thank you.

bob m.
bob m8 years ago

Lindsay; To be more than fair; Isaiah 53.
Jesus; the Lamb of God.

Lindsay Thorpe
Lindsay T8 years ago

To be fair Tom.
Although I'm not religious, if you do take the traditional Jewish message of Rabbi Hillel (way before Jesus) seriously, where he says "What is hateful to you, do not do to another" and if you also take seriously the concepts of tzedekah (righteousness) and Tikkun Olam (healing the world) then you will care about anyone in distress, and that includes illegal immigrants. Christianity really just took these concepts over from Judaism.

Tom W.
Tom W8 years ago

There is only one reason these religious groups support law breaking illegals is to collest more money for the plate.

The law is the law and these groups should have their 501c tax evasion privileges removed.

roberto c.
robert m8 years ago

Yayyy for evangelicals for all those that are so anti immigration in reality we don't even belong here regarding of legal status we are all models for America the only people that should be here are Native Americans because they are Native to Americans and we are not let's not for get how our ancestors got here this nation was founded By mostly illegal immigration look during WW1 about 25 million of illegal immigrants came here nearly the double or triple we have let's not forget how our generation came here then us... and our roots so let's stop this nonsense then our ancestor's should've been turn back because they were undocumented but no they came here....and stayed

Karen C.
Karen C8 years ago

Immigration isn't an easy policy issue. You have women who cross the border to have their children born in America. This is a major problem for the hospitals along the border. Also, you have millions of children here who were born in American and their parents are not legal residents. You can't send the parents back to Mexico and let the children live here? Where would they go?
The solution is to help Mexico improve it's economic climate so poor people won't flee to American and try to make a better life and have there family join them. Many of these workers haven't been home in decades and all their family ties are now in America. It's inhuman to rip families apart even though they may have started 10 years ago with one member coming. These people are hard working, god fearing, family oriented members of our community. There are some criminals among them but mostly they just want a better live for their families.
Can you imagine how frightening it must be to leave and go to a country where you don't speak the official language and can be preyed upon by criminals without your extended family there to assist you.

Angela Dubie
Angela Dubie8 years ago

Les, you are right, that is it we lived in a perfect world, but as we all know all too well, that we don't! You are also right that our laws have no compassion, but they are needed just the same, or we would have total anarchy!
I feel for these refugees, for i myself have been unjustly treated by our bigoted laws, and my point is this: that pres. Reagan gave amnesty to the illegals but zero tolerance to the American people, forcing us to be persecuted by the letter of the law, while foreigners are exempt from our laws! My husband and i would have has a better life here if we would have left the country surrendered our citizenship and came back illegally, for there is no justice in our justice system!
Before we show compassion for foreigners we need to show a little compassion for our own and grant amnesty to all of the American victimless criminals, reinstate their citizenship, give them an equal footing, and make our nation strong again, for we will be in the posistion to help out our unfortunate neighbors!
The evangelicals want to get involved, then good, send them over there to help them fix their country for they won't be uprooted in the first place, don't wait until their lives and families were torn apart to do something, and then put it on everyone elses shoulders!
We are all either part of the problem or part of the solution or just in the way!

Les L.
Les L8 years ago

part 2:
things I've said to those who shout "Illegal" on this site, but you aren't my role models. None of your arguments will ever sound like Truth or Wisdom or Love to me.

Les L.
Les L8 years ago

This article is probably closed by now, but I need to add a response to all the comments directed at mine. Any argument that pits "us" against "them" is presuming a superiority and privilege of "us." The aim of my life is to not live this way. I believe that people are here to help each other, PERIOD. I believe every person on the earth has an EQUAL RIGHT to all the resources of the earth. I don't believe the United States is some God- blessed place that only a select number of people get to inhabit, and that those chosen ones get to weed out all the "undesirables." When someone in need shows up on the doorstep and asks for help, "go away" isn't what I'm saying to them.

I call these people "immigrants" rather than "illegals" because, as I've said and said and said, I don't consider their presence here to be "illegal." I think it's our response to them that is obscenely wrong. The challenge I face in my life, now, is to find a way to have compassion for the selfishness so horribly exposed by this issue. Or compassion for the people proclaiming their "US versus THEM" as if it's some kind of gospel. Every single person on this earth is God's creation and is beloved. Please re-read the good Samaritan story. Don't you understand that the stranger in that story was someone who "legally" wasn't supposed to be touched? The good Samaritan ignored the law to do the "just" thing. The only thing that matters in life is how you treat another human being. I apologize for all the mean