With less than six months to go before the start of the 2010 census, immigration reform activists—divided over whether undocumented immigrants should volunteer to be counted—are escalating rhetoric as they seek critical support from Latino evangelical and Protestant pastors.
A United Methodist pastor who has sheltered an illegal Mexican immigrant for over six months says he detects changing stances on immigration by some conservative churches as they see growing membership among Latinos.
A human rightslawyer, Ralston Deffenbaugh has since 1991 been president of Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Service, an agency of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, the Lutheran Church–Missouri Synod and the Latvian Evangelical Lutheran Church in America. He previously represented the Lutheran World Federation at the United Nations.
Last summer I was invited by a hospice chaplain to accompany him on a visit to the family of Maria Durand de Perez, a Mexican woman who had died a few weeks earlier in the border town of San Ysidro, California, at the astonishing age of 111.
Rallying against a bill passed in the House of Representatives that would accelerate deportations, increase border security and treat illegal immigrants as felons, masses of immigrants appeared in multiple demonstrations in U.S. cities in March and April.
As you head south out of San Antonio, you begin to enter the brush country. It’s something of a cross between a desert and a briar patch. Cacti abound, and almost every plant has thorns or spines of some kind. Everything is armored and protected. Even the cacti are on the offensive. It is this brutal and scorched countryside that thousands of Mexicans brave each year as they cross the border looking for a share of the legendary wealth of los Estados Unidos.
What should U.S. immigration policy be, given that half a million immigrants enter the U.S. illegally each year and the total number of undocumented residents in the country is about 11 million? For the far right, the answer is obvious: close the borders. This view is regularly touted on Fox News, where commentators decry the porousness of U.S. borders, argue for stepped-up policing—perhaps even a fence along the entire U.S.-Mexico border—and for a crackdown on those who employ or aid undocumented migrants. They imply that illegal immigrants must be sent home. Read the CENTURY editorial.
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