Paul Ouderkirk was on retreat in Dubuque on May 12, 2008, when someone tapped him on the shoulder and asked him why he wasn’t 75 miles away in Postville. The Catholic priest did not know that earlier that day, federal authorities had launched the nation’s largest ever single-site immigration raid on the Agriprocessors kosher meatpacking plant in Postville and arrested 389 people. The Spanish-speaking Ouderkirk had served St. Bridget’s Catholic Church in Postville—a quiet community of 2,400 people—before his retirement. When he heard about the government’s action, he returned immediately to Postville and resumed his role as parish pastor.
In the fall of 2006, when Lake Avenue Baptist Church in Rochester, New York, began welcoming refugees from Burma, we had no idea what we were getting into. In the spring of 2007 there were 30 refugees from Burma in Rochester; by 2007 there were 200, and by now there are almost 400, with many more expected. Rochester is a microcosm of what is happening quietly across this continent and in many other nations.
I’ve covered the Sundance Film Festival many times and can say with reasonable authority that the movie lovers who brave Utah winters to see world premieres are some of the easiest audiences I’ve encountered.
For generations residents of San Diego and Tijuana have gathered at Friendship Park to visit with family and friends through the border fence. In coming months the Department of Homeland Security will erect a secondary fence across the park, eliminating public access to this historic meeting place. Until then, I will serve Communion at Friendship Park each Sunday afternoon, distributing the elements through the border fence.
The first time her screams brought police to the house in Lakewood, Ohio, the woman lied to authorities. She told the officers that her husband did not strike her.
She was thinking of her Muslim immigrant community and the role she was expected to play: faithful wife, submissive mother. Mostly she was thinking of her children and how she would support them without an income.
For the past several months the debate over U.S. immigration policy has centered on the tiny town of Postville, Iowa. In May, government officials descended on the town and arrested almost 400 immigrants who worked at a kosher meat processing plant. Close to 300 of the workers, most of whom are from Guatemala, were convicted of fraud.
Iowa bishops from three denominations have demanded an overhaul of U.S. immigration policy in the wake of a government raid on a large kosher slaughterhouse and allegations of worker mistreatment during relief efforts after June’s floods.
A federal immigration raid with arrests of about 390 people at a meat processing plant in Postville, Iowa, has brought “devastation” to the community, said a Lutheran bishop at an ecumenical prayer service at a Catholic church in nearby Waterloo.
"Mr. Gorbachev—tear down this wall.” Ronald Reagan’s demand in 1987 regarding the Berlin Wall needed no nuancing. It was obvious that many East Germans wanted to enter the politically free and economically prosperous West and that leaders in East Berlin and Moscow could prevent them only by building a physical barrier, guarded by machine guns.
While immigration reform is necessary, four Christian leaders said in a joint appeal last month in Washington, the faith community needs to help bridge the gap between immigrants and a society that often rejects them.