Immigration Reform - synod, Obama, and you?

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It’s been a big couple of weeks for immigration.

Two weeks ago at Synod, the CRCNA adopted the Report on the Migration of Workers (see here: http://www.crcna.org/news.cfm?newsid=2023&section=1) which, among other things, calls the denomination to education and advocacy towards a more just immigration system. During discussion of the report, pastors told story after story of the pain that the broken US laws are causing their members. If it wasn’t clear before, it’s now crystal: the CRCNA is still a denomination of immigrants, and thus that church suffers when immigration laws are so unjust.

And then today President Obama gave a speech on immigration (here's the text: http://blogs.wsj.com/washwire/2010/07/01/transcript-of-obamas-immigratio...), committing again to call on congress to enact immigration reform. To lots of us who have been watching this administration worsen instead of improve the most unjust practices of US immigration enforcement, this was a cup of cold water. After months of increasing raids, increasing deportations of undocumented immigrants, increasing targeting of non-criminal immigrants, we were dying for a little good news. Today we got it.

At the Office of Social Justice, we were most heartened to hear the President emphasize the importance of family unity, his support for a pathway to earned citizenship for undocumented immigrants, and his support for the DREAM Act – all of which we’ve been encouraging church members to advocate for. (You can see OSJ's advocacy opportunities here: http://www.crcna.org/pages/osj_actioncenter.cfm)

It’s nice to have weeks like these: where we’re taken to new places, planning for new opportunities, responding to new responsibilities. Justice isn’t flowing like a river yet, but maybe it’s starting to smell like rain.

How has your congregation responded to the presence of immigrants in your community? To Synod's decision on the Migration Report? To the political conversation about immigration?

Posted in: Social Justice; Discussion Topic

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Dear Miss Kooyman:

I'm curious. In your first paragaph, you noted that the church suffers when "immigration laws are so unjust." In your second paragraph, you said, "To lots of us who have been watching this administration worsen instead of improve the most unjust practices of US immigration enforcement, this was a cup of cold water."

Would you please explain why the immigration laws are so unjust, and would you also enumerate "the most unjust practices" of US immigration enforcement?

Cordially,

Pastor T.

Thanks for the comment, Pastor T. I'm happy to explain further. There's a good overview of the system's injustices on the Office of Social Justice website: http://www.crcna.org/pages/osj_immbackground.cfm

And the unjust practices of enforcement I was referring to are things like mass workplace raids (which punish workers and their families, but not the employers who hired them), a significant acceleration of detention and deportation of immigrants, and a total lack of resource management when it comes to targeting criminal immigrants instead of workers. This has resulted in a separation of families, a worsening of the economies that have been subject to raids, an increased backlog of people waiting for their day in immigration court, and a lot of problems for pastors (maybe like you!) of churches in our denomination who are trying to minister with and to immigrants in their communities.

Hope that's helpful.

Kate, I'm glad you started this discussion.  I am concerned about immigration and I want a new system that is fair to everyone too -- that includes those from other countries that want to come to America, those waiting in line to get in legally, taxpaying citizens who are currently legally in the USA, and those that have broken the law and have come across the border illegally. As a Christian, I love and care for all of the people named here, and I want everyone to take a deep breath and take a step back and look at things from all perspectives.

Newt Gingrich has done a lot of non-partisan, common sense research and open discussion with Democrats, Independents and Republicans on this issue. He has provided long discussion and working sessions with input from all sides. He is getting a lot of support from people who don’t really have an ideological bent, they just want common sense solutions and want to get something done, with compassion and sound principles. He points out that in the past year Marco Rubio was elected Senator from Florida, and the Latino people and all Americans are proud of his accomplishment. Susana Martínez became the first Latina governor in the country. A number of new Hispanics and Latinos were elected across the country. Republicans are not the problem. President Obama and the Democrats had two full years to pass a good immigration law and they totally failed. Obama ignored most of Latin America in the state of the union speech. He emphasized Korea and didn’t talk at all about the Columbian Free Trade Agreement.

We should be very clear: it is impossible to pass a single, comprehensive immigration reform bill. We saw the problems with the huge, costly Obamacare health care take over. We should have a series of good steps, with vivid and clear goals:
We want legality. We want control of the borders. We want easy deportation of felons and gang members. There is no excuse for dangerous gangs to be in 65 American cities because of the complexity of American deportation laws. We want English as the official language of government, but we respect every language as the language of life, politics and commerce. We absolutely believe every citizen ought to learn American history, both American born citizens and first generation immigrants.

We should have a dramatically bigger visa program for well educated people, because it is absurd to have someone graduate from MIT or CalTech, or other good American schools, and they have to leave the country to create a new factory in India, because we won’t let them stay here and build a factory.

We need a guest worker program driven by economic reality, and the guest worker program should be outsourced to American Express, Visa or Mastercard, because they are the only systems capable of running a fraud free program, and I would never trust the federal government with a a guest worker
Once there is a guest worker program with real time, equivalent of ATM speed, then any employer who hires someone who is not an American citizen, or have a guest worker program or other legal documentation, I would hammer them economically so you would eliminate hiring people illegally. That way people who are hear legally would have a couple of choices.

You have to have some sort of local system with human discrimination, like we did in the past with draft boards during WWII. It has to have human discrimination, because for example, there is a young man in Dallas, Texas who is 19 years old, who came here when he was three. He doesn’t speak Spanish. Now to say to him, “Gosh, you need to go back to Mexico”, strikes me as something that no common sense group of American neighbors would do. So there has to be some way to distinguish. But, everybody who ends up as an illegal guest worker, HAS to go to the back of the line and fill out an application for citizenship, because we CANNOT punish those who have been obeying the law, waiting in their home country, being patient, by telling them they were dumb, they should have broken the law and come to the U.S. and we’d eventually take care of them. We have to control the border.

Once the new regime is set up, everyone who comes into this country illegally is deported in 48 hours. This nonsense system we currently have is so heavily rigged against deportation that it is an absurdity. And remember, most of the people who came here came legally, then their visa expired or whatever. So we need to pass a series of building blocks over the course of 1-2 years.

This is just common sense. The so-called “Dream Act” attempted to put the wrong policies in place and empower Democrat politicians, and went against common sense and the will of the people. That is why it was defeated. We need a good common sense immigration law as outlined above. The Dream Act would give citizenship to illegals and allow them to jump past those that are patiently waiting in line and obeying the law. We CANNOT do that, it is unfair and immoral to those people who are doing what is right. The Dream Act was designed by politicians to be defeated, so they could use it to demagogue the issue. We are all immigrants but we came here legally. The other problem with open borders is the threat to homeland security. If we don’t know who is streaming across the border, how do we know if we are letting the next terrorist in? We need to check out who is coming in. We don’t want a terrorist to come across our border, and kill 10 or 20 thousand Americans in a mass attack. At that point liberal Christians will say “Let us pray for God’s peace and understanding for the families of the victims…”
We don’t want to have to pray for victims…we want to PREVENT the next attack by checking the background of people attempting to enter the country.

The term “social justice” is just an innocuous phrase to most people. To many Christians, it just means “fairness” and it is used as a substitute for "outreach to the poor." This is what Jesus commands us as individuals to do: help the poor, reach out to the weak and helpless, protect the innocent children, born and unborn.

The problem arises when some try to pervert and hijack the term "social justice", and somehow try to force redistribution of wealth on people, with a hostility toward individual property rights. They sometimes do this under the guise of charity or justice, but this corrupts true charity because it takes away the personal one of one helping of Christian charity. None of us feel very “charitable” on April 15th when the government raises our taxes, then proceeds to waste our tax dollars through fraud and redundant programs that the government has no business running.

If your church is promoting a liberation theology style "social or economic justice," you should run from it or at least get educated on what progressives mean by this.

Here's a simple rule of thumb: Make sure your church puts God first and politics and government last. Here are the clear warning signs: "social justice" or "economic justice" or "ecological justice." If these so-called church leaders start attacking capitalism and promoting socialist or communist ways, stay far away.

So to be clear: Some people look at social justice as going out on mission and going out and doing good works for God. That's great — as long as you are personally, or in a church group, representing the hands and feet of Jesus here on earth. If your church leaders or anyone else starts promoting a government-bloated program, steer clear!

Dear John or whoever is writing this. I see you joined today. Why?

Hi Ken!  Thank you for posting and you asked a good question.  I joined because I wonder how other churches do things and I wanted to find out!  I think it is important to ask questions and compare notes with other Christians across the CRC,  whether they are down the street or across the country.  I assume you and others are doing ministry just like me, so I want to ask for help, share my experience, and connect and learn with others!

I think there are various viewpoints and policies that all say they are working toward the same goals. The Christian community should not follow one political party or the other blindly, we should examine every policy from a Christian perspective, using our God given minds and our God given logic and ability to reason and look at history and empirical evidence. We should explore and discuss and make sure the policies we are promoting are actually doing what they say they will do.  If we just support a policy because it makes us feel good, or it is politically correct, but doesn't actualy help the poor or powerless, then I don't think we should support those policies.

Why did you join?

I was lonely.

Where you from John. I'm out west in Washington.

Ken

Hi Ken,

I'm truly sorry to hear you were lonely.  I'm from the west also. I hope you find good Christian friends here and also in your church and community.  God loves you and wants us all to live in harmony and to love one another.  And don't forget, Jesus is always our friend as well as our savior:

 

John 15:14-16 (New International Version, ©2011)

14 You are my friends if you do what I command. 15 I no longer call you servants, because a servant does not know his master’s business. Instead, I have called you friends, for everything that I learned from my Father I have made known to you. 16 You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you so that you might go and bear fruit—fruit that will last—and so that whatever you ask in my name the Father will give you.

Thanks John, I live 300 yds from my church, but they are to busywith more important stuff. Besides John when you have a long term illness with no let up people have to melt away.

I suppose I would also. So after  12yrs I  am down to my immediate family. Not even my brothers  intiate contact anymore till the holiday's. John, I have my name and verses written under sheetrock in that church when we built it. I think a lot about that and how everyone can talk about what the church means to them. I am believer in spite of the church. Jesus cares for me and family and we live on that. But my family is slowly stopping to go to church to because they don't understand how this can happen.Actuall;y ,My storry is much bigger than what I'm saying but it is hard for me to type with spastic hands and arms.

Thanks for the verse, I can't quote things from memory anymore but it is written in my heart and doesn't bleed out with my tears.

 I know some people will read this and say what did you do Ken to mess up the church relations. I welcome anybody to ask me maybe on the phone so I can actually tell them. It's a story of Grace .

I am so sorry to hear about your trouble, Ken.  I can't believe your church is too busy with "more important stuff" because showing love to you and everyone else is one of the most important things the church can do.  Hopefully someone from your church will read this and pay you a visit!  In the meantime, yes you still have your family and yes of course Jesus cares for you and your family. But, we are all praying that the relationship between you and your church improves.

To keep this a bit on topic for this area of the forum, what do you think of Newt Gingrich's common sense ideas for immigration reform?

John , I haven't read his proposal. nor do I care much about secular politic's anymore. As far as I am concerned nobody in Gov leadership. is doing their job. They all have a problem with the truth.

Ken, that is a shame you feel that way. I think it is obvious that it does matter which polices we implement. The way we are going now, we are being led down a path to European style socialism and failure. I want better for our children and the world, and a good example is Newt's policies on immigration.  The current system is unfair and Newt has put together a non-partisan coaltion that is not interested in politics, they just want good ideas that work. I can understand why you would not be interested but many want the best for our children and those that enherit the world we leave.

We may be heading down that path but, there is always hope. Something i think we are all loseing, that no matter how bad things look there is always hope in GOD and his will along with his master plan.

John, I don't want to argue with you. That is why I asked what your are doing here. I could see you itching for a fight. I'm through with that. Anything done without Love is nothing.

Ken, I resent your false accusation that I am "itching for a fight". I am through with that too, and I don't want to argue with you either.  I know the purpose of this forum is to discuss things in Christian love, and see how other churches do things. I think it is important to ask questions and compare notes with other Christians across the CRC, whether they are down the street or across the country.  I assume you and others are doing ministry just like me, so I want to ask for help, share my experience, and connect and learn with others!

So, again, anything discussed here will be done in Love.  To me, NOT discussing various ideas on the best way to do something, and ending up with a less optimal solution, is not love, it is a disservice to those we want to help.  The poor and helpless suffer more if we don't figure out the best way to help them.  I can understand if you don't want to join the discussion but please don't cast aspersions on those who want to discuss issues and seek the truth. 

John, You are may be fine individual but you don't spend the effort you did explaining your view after just joining 2 days ago without feeling this church and network are not to your satifaction. John you can fool yourself but I will stay with my belief based on what have already said. That is why John, I drove you towards you to do the explaining. John I live with your type of people with the same attutudes. They are good people too and I love them. But you John are after conflect to beat people wih idea;s into submission. You knew I was hurting yet you through out some platitudes then dove in to further your goals. It maybe my fault if I judged your motives incorrectly, But your actions did the talking.

In spite of this John I would like to welcome you. If you are who you say you are we will be friends even if we don;t agree on certain issue's. If your not who claim lets stop right here and be civil. Your choice, both ways John I know you are a brother in Christ . WE are bing watched by many and Iwe need to show them how Christains act.

Ken

OK thank you for your honesty, Ken, I guess we will have to respectfully agree to disagree on my goals here.  Yes I did spend time explaining my views on an issue and I hope others do the same. It is only in that way we can learn from each other and sift through ideas, letting the good ones come to the top.  I hope you don't jump to the conclusion that this church and network are not to my satisfaction; I'm not sure where that came from.  Yes, of course we all see areas for improvement, we all care, that is why this forum was created, so we could discuss what we care about and then take the best ideas for our own churches. I really wish you would stop stereotyping people with "I live with your type of people with the same attitudes".  Ken, you really don't know my attitudes on many issues. I think many of them you would agree with, and many would surprise you!  Why don't we get to know one another in Christian love before casting these aspersions?

Ken, I do disagree with one point you made, though. One can't "beat people into submission with ideas"!  That is not possible. One can only explain one's ideas, and if they make sense, others will adopt them.  If they don't make sense, they are free to explain why and maybe they will change the minds of others in the process. I think too many people are afraid of ideas, they think we should all just follow the "conventional wisdom" or what is "politically correct" and leave it at that.  If our founders followed that philosophy, where would be now?  Or if Jesus just went along with the "accepted" ideas of his time, where would we all be?

So yes, you have judged my motives incorrectly, and my actions of discussing good ideas and soliciting other ideas should not cause you any strife. In spite of your mistake on me, I welcome you too, and I look forward to future discussions of ideas, if you feel like participating.  No pressure, Ken! Yes, of course we can be friends and brothers in Christ even if we disagree on issues, and of course we will both continue to be civil and engage in intelligent discourse. That is how Christians should and do act.

Thamks John, We made the right choice.

God bless you

Ken

Yes, thank you too, Ken.  God bless you and I really meant what I said about the issues you expressed.  I really do hope your local friends and family, and your church, can bond together and get through these difficult times. There are many issues that need to be addressed, some at a local or regional level, others at a national or international level. The original post by Kate Kooyman spoke about immigration reform, the CRCNA's and President Obama's speeches and responses, and upcoming legislation. My only goal here is to shed some light on the diversity of viewpoints that exist, in the hope that we all as Christians can see the light and come to some conclusions as to the best way forward.

If some agree with me, fine, then can say why. If others disagree, no problem, we can politely disagree and state our reasoning.  I happen to think that if all ideas are allowed to compete in a fair arena of ideas, people are smart enough to see through bad ideas and adopt the good ones. This is not always the case, some get stuck on bad ideas and will not let go, but that is the exception rather than the rule.

Thank you for your comments though, Ken, and I really do wish the best for you and your family going forward. I did not mean to minimize your personal situation, I was merely trying to keep this thread on the original topic.  God bless you.

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