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					                  Welcoming the Stranger:
        A Toolkit on Immigration for People of Faith

 Welcoming the Stranger: A Toolkit
on Immingration for People of Faith

             Clergy for Tolerance | www.clergyfortolerance.org
                                          Welcoming the Stranger:
                              A Toolkit on Immigration for People of Faith

                                    TABLE OF CONTENTS


Starting the Conversation

        Dealing with Controversial Issues in Faith Communities
        Immigration Terminology

                                            GET THE FACTS
At A Glance
        New Americans in the Volunteer State
        Immigration Myths and the Facts Behind the Fallacies

        Immigration Basics
        What Part of Legal Immigration Don’t You Understand?
        State Immigration Law

       Undocumented Immigrants as Taxpayers
       U.S.-Mexico Trade and Migration
       NAFTA’s Vicious Cycle

Local Enforcement
         Dangerous Merger: Local Enforcement of Federal Immigration Law
         The Real Deal: Detaining America’s Immigrants

Faith Traditions
         Major Characters in the Judeo-Christian narrative who were immigrants or refugees
         Biblical Passages on Immigration
         Other Faith Traditions

Faith Statements
         Breaking the Tradition of Reactivity: Building Moral Capital for Immigration Reform
         Public Statements by Prominent Evangelical Leaders
         Denominational Statements
         Numbers USA Letter

Ideas for Worship

Talking Points
         Talking Points for a Civil Discussion on Comprehensive Immigration Reform from a Tennessee Perspective

                                     Clergy for Tolerance | www.clergyfortolerance.org
                                               Welcoming the Stranger:
                                  A Toolkit on Immigration for People of Faith


Thank you for attending this workshop on immigration issues. Our goal is to give you the tools to educate your
community and faith groups about immigrants. One of the biggest challenges to our country – and our state – is
how to integrate newcomers into society in a fair and humane way and recognize they, too, are made in the image
of God. Unfortunately, the national conversation has devolved into a polarizing debate often characterized by
misinformation and fear at every level. Fear and hate produce a more visceral response and have greater
mobilizing power than mercy and justice.

However, we are also certain that many Tennesseans, and people of faith in particular, are caught in a crossfire of
extreme public opinion that silences real dialogue and leaves little opportunity for us to express compassion. These
same Tennesseans are concerned about respecting the law and protecting our nation’s borders, but are also
supportive of a humane response to the undocumented workers currently in our state. While we are pleased that
so many people of faith have raised their voices in this conversation, it is imperative that more faith traditions and
individuals engage in this critical issue.

That’s why Tennessee for All of Us and Clergy for Tolerance have joined together to create this toolkit on
immigration issues. We seek to present an alternate view on immigration by utilizing state and national facts,
examining faith perspectives, and providing opportunities for us to express compassion to our immigrant

This guide is intended to serve as a starting place to provide you with the tools you need to begin talking about this
issue in your faith communities. It also is a supplement to the information we present in our workshops and
breakout groups. We have compiled helpful articles, polls, and factsheets from reliable sources to provide
background on this complex issue; websites to delve deeper; faith resources to educate your congregation; and
suggestions for further engagement within your faith community.

*Special thanks to the North Carolina Council of Churches and the American Friends Service Committee for providing many of the
articles in this toolkit.

                                         Clergy for Tolerance | www.clergyfortolerance.org
                                           Welcoming the Stranger:
                               A Toolkit on Immigration for People of Faith

 Dealing with Controversial Issues in Faith                        where your congregation is at present. Pertinent
              Communities*                                         questions include:
                                                                   -Is there currently any other conflict we are dealing
                                                                   with that might prevent a healthy discussion on this
By Rev. Julie Peeples, 2009
                                                                   issue at this time?
Congregational United Church of Christ, Greensboro
                                                                   -What is the status of relationships between staff
                                                                   and members?
The following are suggestions for beginning to help                -Has the professional leader of the congregation
your faith community deal with controversial issues.               been in place long enough to have established some
These recommendations are based on my own
experiences and those of other religious leaders I                 level of trust?
have known, along with various                                     -What is the history of handling controversial issues
denominational/church/nonprofit resources.                         in the congregation? Are there certain patterns to
Helping a congregation work through a “hot button”                 be
topic from a faith standpoint can be extremely                     aware of?
challenging, and yet the spiritual rewards for a
                                                                   -What is the outcome desired?
congregation can far exceed the difficulties. I
encourage you to share any wisdom you have or                      -Will there be a vote of any kind at some point?
gain, as it is far more helpful when we can share with
one another what works rather than continuing to
try and reinvent the wheel on our own. Blessings on                Carefully consider different models, choosing the
your journey!                                                      elements that will most likely ensure a constructive,
                                                                   full conversation. Among the possibilities:
                                                                   1. Small Groups: One model that has been very
                                                                   successful has been to set up a small group series of
1. Pray for discernment and guidance.                              4 to 6 weeks, repeated with new participants. Each
                                                                   session in the series would address a different
2. Clarify your goals: Is there one specific outcome
                                                                   aspect such as: scripture, legal/economic,
you are aiming for? Do you simply want to begin the
                                                                   cultural/historic, legislative, personal stories.
discussion, or are you hoping for specific action? Is
                                                                   Participants commit to all sessions, and trust is built
there a particular situation in your faith community
                                                                   over time, allowing transformation and growth to
that makes this a pressing and/or emotional issue?
                                                                   take place.
3. Take time to sort through your own
                                                                   2. Open Forums: Present a series of forums and/or
feelings/opinions/level of knowledge about this
                                                                   panel discussions where information is presented,
issue. Controversial issues are often complex,
                                                                   followed by time for discussion. Keep in mind that
multilayered; what aspects of it do you need to read
                                                                   open forums can be helpful, but those who are
up on? Decide whether you intend to remain
                                                                   wrestling with the issue can be easily intimidated by
neutral, or if you intend to make your opinions clear,
                                                                   the more vocal participants.
but in a way that does not dismiss the
feelings/opinions of others. (Personally, I believe it             3. Combination of Formats: Use a combination of
is more effective to be clear about your stance, be                forums, debates, small group meetings, and panel
honest about areas of uncertainty, but constantly                  discussions. Note that public events should always
make it clear you intend to listen with respect and to             be followed up with opportunities for people to
learn from all views.)                                             discuss what they’ve learned and to ask questions in
                                                                   a safe, well-facilitated setting.
4. Before taking any program plans to an official
board, call upon a small group of trusted members                  4. Established Groups: Design or choose a study
with whom you can share your hopes and ideas, in                   guide to be used by groups already established, such
confidence. With their help, consider carefully                    as adult classes, women’s or men’s groups, etc.

                                      Clergy for Tolerance | www.clergyfortolerance.org
                                            Welcoming the Stranger:
                               A Toolkit on Immigration for People of Faith

No matter what format you use, make use of                          5. Keep praying. And practice good self-care – this is
personal stories – those whose lives are directly                   stressful work!
impacted by the issue (via video or in person), as
                                                                    6. Remind people why it is important to consider
well as stories shared by congregants. Few things
                                                                    current issues from a faith perspective.
have greater impact than stories!
                                                                    7. If necessary, before beginning any program,
Be prepared with intelligent, articulate resources
                                                                    consider which individuals might be the most
representing a diversity of opinions. Encourage your
                                                                    resistant or threatened by such a discussion or
congregants to use only reliable, well-respected
                                                                    program. Pay these folks a visit, preferably with one
resources. Make good use of denominational
                                                                    of your leaders who is already “on board” with the
resources; there are local, state and national
                                                                    idea. Invite the person to share their reservations or
resources available as well. Invite people outside
                                                                    concerns and questions, and be ready to explain
the congregation to offer various perspectives from
                                                                    very clearly why you think this is necessary, why
their areas of expertise.
                                                                    now, and how you think it will benefit the
Make sure the appropriate bodies are fully informed                 congregation.
about the program; solicit their active help in
                                                                    8. Publicize your program(s) on this topic well. Make
quieting the rumor mill. In designing your program,
                                                                    it clear that the intention is to create a safe space
be careful not to take on too much too soon. For
                                                                    where ALL are welcome to come together to share
example, if your congregation has not yet begun this
                                                                    their insights, to learn, to listen and to seek divine
conversation, don’t start out with a program on the
                                                                    wisdom and direction. Don’t assume anything –
sanctuary movement or taking a position on a
                                                                    make all communication about this as clear and
particular legislative bill. Begin with a more general
                                                                    straightforward as possible.
treatment of the subject, then work gradually over
time toward the more specific issues.                               9. Be patient. This issue is obviously very difficult for
                                                                    many to talk about. For some, it is their “line in the
At the same time, don’t settle for a surface level
                                                                    sand;” a matter they feel is connected with the most
conversation. Go deeper. Keep in mind that those
                                                                    fundamental elements of society and religious life.
with very strong opinions may not change their
                                                                    At the same time, there will be others wanting the
views much. Focus most of your energy on those in
                                                                    discussions to progress more quickly.
the middle; many of them will welcome the
opportunity to learn, to ask their questions, and to
consider the issue thoughtfully.
                                                                    1. Be aware that this will be an on-going effort.
IMPLEMENT                                                           Most congregations find that they reach a certain
                                                                    level of understanding, only to discover more issues
1. Do everything possible to create safe space for all.
                                                                    or other groups of people they had not considered.
Establish guidelines, model respectful dialogue.
                                                                    It is a process.
Make clear what is and is not appropriate in
discussions/forums/groups.                                          2. Be aware, too, that this process, as challenging as
                                                                    it can be, also frequently results in blessings for the
2. Make use of newsletter articles, sermons, website
                                                                    congregation in terms of spiritual renewal and
links, etc.
                                                                    outlook. Congregations grow in confidence when
3. If you choose to address the issue in sermons, lift              they can look back and know that they dealt with a
up the underlying values involved. Avoid                            “hot-button” issue with grace and integrity.
haranguing, self-righteous tones and leaving people
                                                                    3. Consider what might be appropriate next steps:
without an opportunity to respond. It is more
                                                                    further study? An outreach effort? Political action?
effective to invite change than to induce guilt.
                                                                    4. Summarize and celebrate. With the help of
4. If at all possible, work toward consensus rather
                                                                    congregation leaders and participants, write up a
than up or down votes. Votes on controversial
                                                                    summary of the journey and the outcomes. Be
issues end up with winners, losers, and lingering
                                                                    honest about where there are areas of
                                                                    disagreement, point out blessings discovered along

                                       Clergy for Tolerance | www.clergyfortolerance.org
                                            Welcoming the Stranger:
                                A Toolkit on Immigration for People of Faith

the way. And, celebrate the good! Remind the
congregation that they have courageously worked
through a difficult issue and lived to tell the tale.
Consider a special service of worship and time for
celebration to mark this accomplishment.

                                                                    * Thanks to the North Carolina Council of Churches and the
                                                                    American Friends Service Committee for allowing Clergy for
                                                                    Tolerance to reprint this article.

                                       Clergy for Tolerance | www.clergyfortolerance.org
                                              Welcoming the Stranger:
                                 A Toolkit on Immigration for People of Faith

Should We Use the Term “Illegal” as a Noun?                           How Do We Refer to the “Stranger Among Us”?
Adapted from the National Association of Hispanic                     Adapted from Interfaith Worker Justice, 2007
Journalists, 2006

                                                                      Throughout this handbook, different words are used to
In the public sphere there are numerous terms used to
                                                                      describe people who come to the U.S. from other
describe immigrants, but it is important to think about
                                                                      countries. Words have political implications. Some we
the negative connotation these terms carry. The use of
                                                                      use interchangeably, some we stay away from. Here
the term “illegal” or “illegal immigrant” automatically
                                                                      we look at their deeper meanings and purposes.
criminalizes the person, instead of the action they are
purported to have committed. Shortening the term in                   1. What is the distinction between “immigrant” and
this way also stereotypes undocumented people who                     “migrant”? At times these words are used
are in the United States as having committed a crime.                 interchangeably. All immigrants are migrants–people
Under current U.S. immigration law, being an                          who have left their homes and traveled to a new place.
undocumented immigrant is not a crime, it is a civil                  Immigrants have all crossed national borders, whereas
violation. Furthermore, an estimated 40 percent of all                migrants may move from one part of a country to
undocumented people living in the U.S. are visa                       another. The word immigration implies the intention of
overstayers, meaning they did not illegally cross the                 permanently settling in a new country.
U.S. border.
                                                                      2. How do we refer to the people who came to the
In addition, it is degrading to use the terms “alien” and             United States surreptitiously or came holding
“illegal alien,” which describe undocumented                          temporary visas and stayed after their visas expired?
immigrants as adverse, strange beings, inhuman                        We use several terms interchangeably in this primer.
outsiders who come to the U.S. with questionable                      “Undocumented immigrants” refers to the roughly 12
motivations.                                                          million people, 7 million adults and 5 million children,
                                                                      who are in the U.S. without documents attesting that
                                                                      they are authorized to be here. “Undocumented
                                                                      workers” refers to the adults in this group who are in
                                                                      the workforce. “Unauthorized immigrants” or
                                                                      “unauthorized working adults” are synonymous terms
                                                                      to undocumented. So is the term “people without
                                                                      documents.” These are the preferred terms used in this
                                                                      handbook. They describe without judgment, and are
                                                                      used in respect, without inflaming passions.
                                                                      “Illegal immigrants”, “illegal aliens”, and “unlawful
                                                                      workers” are widely used terms and appear frequently
                                                                      in legislation and newspaper accounts of immigration
                                                                      issues. Faith communities try to avoid any term that
                                                                      implies that a human being is illegal.
                                                                      While we recognize that many people have crossed our
                                                                      borders or overstayed their visas without legal
                                                                      authorization and have therefore violated immigration
                                                                      laws, they are human beings entitled to internationally
                                                                      acclaimed human rights, and they are not in and of
                                                                      themselves illegal.
                                                                      See www.iwj.org/index.cfm/immigration

                                         Clergy for Tolerance | www.clergyfortolerance.org
          Welcoming the Stranger:
A Toolkit on Immigration for People of Faith

     Clergy for Tolerance | www.clergyfortolerance.org
                                             Welcoming the Stranger:
                                 A Toolkit on Immigration for People of Faith

New Americans in the Volunteer State                                 students are Vanderbilt University (1,104 students for a
                                                                     total contribution of $39.3 million), the University of
Immigrants and their children, especially those who                  Memphis (769 students), and Middle Tennessee State
naturalize, excel in school over time. Moreover, the                 University (401 students for a total contribution of
revenue generated by Latino and Asian taxpayers,                     $10.2 million).
consumers, and entrepreneurs sustains thousands of
jobs and contributes billions of dollars to the state’s              Immigrants are essential to Tennessee’s economy in
economy. At a time of deepening recession, Tennessee                 General:
can ill-afford to alienate or marginalize such a fast-               • Immigrants comprised 5.2% of the state’s workforce
growing component of its labor force, tax base, and                  in 2008 (or 164,029 workers), according to the U.S.
business community.                                                  Census Bureau.
                                                                     • Unauthorized immigrants comprised 3.6% of the
Immigrants and Their Children Represent a Growing                    state’s workforce in 2008 (or 110,000 workers),
Share of Tennessee’s Population:                                     according to a report by the Pew Hispanic Center.
• The foreign-born share of Tennessee’s population                   • If all unauthorized immigrants were removed from
rose from 1.2% in 1990, to 2.8% in 2000, to 4% in 2008,              Tennessee, the state would lose $3.8 billion in
according to the U.S. Census Bureau.                                 economic activity, $1.7 billion in gross state
• 32.3% of immigrants in Tennessee were naturalized                  product, and approximately 25,919 jobs, even
U.S. citizens in 2008—meaning that they are eligible to              accounting for adequate market adjustment time,
vote.                                                                according to a report by the Perryman Group.
• 1.3% of registered voters in Tennessee were “New
Americans”—naturalized citizens or the U.S.- born                    Economic Impact of Latino Workers and Taxpayers:
children of immigrants who were raised during the                    • Latinos in Tennessee contributed $5.1 billion to the
current era of immigration from Latin America and Asia               state’s economy through their purchases in 2009 - an
which began in 1965—according to an analysis of 2006                 increase of 1,186.1% since 1990 - according to the Selig
Census Bureau data by Rob Paral & Associates.                        Center for Economic Growth at the University of
Integrated Immigrants and their Children Excel in                    • Families headed by unauthorized immigrants
Education Over Time:                                                 contributed $157.4 million through state and local
• In Tennessee, 37.3 % of foreign-born persons who                   taxes in 2010, according to the Institute for Taxation
were naturalized in 2008 had a bachelor's or higher                  and Economic Policy.
degree compared to 24.5% of noncitizens. At the same                 • Latinos spent more than $359 million in the local
time, only 15% of naturalized citizens lacked a high                 Memphis area economy in 2000, according to a 2001
school diploma compared to 37.4% of noncitizens.                     report from the University of Memphis. Additionally,
• The number of immigrants in Tennessee with a                       Latino workers in the Memphis area earned $570.8
college degree increased by 55.4% between 2000 and                   million in wages and salaries in 2000, paid at least $85.6
2008, according to data from the Migration Policy                    million in payroll and income taxes, and generated
Institute.                                                           approximately $12.3 million in local and state sales tax,
• In Tennessee, 73.8% of all children in families that               according to the same study.
spoke a language other than English reported having
oral English proficiency.                                            Latinos and Asians as Business Owners:
                                                                     • Tennessee’s 4,301 Latino owned businesses had sales
Immigrants are integral to Tennessee’s economy as                    and receipts of $1.0 billion and employed 7,995 people
students                                                             in 2002, the last year for which data is available. The
• Tennessee’s 6,155 foreign students contributed                     state’s 7,241 Asian-owned businesses had sales and
$141.1 million to the state’s economy in tuition, fees,
                                                                     receipts of $2.2 billion and employed 21,971 people in
and living expenses for the 2009-2010 academic year,
according to NAFSA: Association of International                     2002, according to the U.S. Census Bureau’s Survey of
Educators. The top three schools enrolling foreign                   Business Owners.

                                        Clergy for Tolerance | www.clergyfortolerance.org
                                            Welcoming the Stranger:
                                A Toolkit on Immigration for People of Faith

Immigration Myths and the Facts Behind the                          unemployment, it is that higher immigration is
Fallacies                                                           associated with lower overall unemployment.
U.S Chamber of Commerce
                                                                    At the other end of the spectrum, highly skilled
                                                                    immigrants tend to have an even greater impact on
                                         The immigrant              job creation. A recent study found that for every
                                         labor force                H-1B worker hired, five new jobs were created.
      Myth: Immigrants take does not
                                                                    Immigrants come to the United States to fill
        jobs from Americans. replace U.S.
                                                                    available vacancies, not to take jobs from American
   Fact: Immigrants create workers;                                 workers.
                  new jobs, and rather, it
  complement the skills of complements
                 the U.S. native the U.S.-born                      While there
                       workforce. workforce.                        have been               Myth: Immigrants drive
                                         Immigrants                 economic                     down the wages of
                                         tend to have               studies that
skill levels at the very high and at the very low end of
                                                                                                 American Workers.
                                                                    claim to
the spectrum and help create jobs that previously                                     Fact: Immigrants increase
                                                                    prove that
did not exist. Immigrants do not tend to compete                    immigration                     overall economic
with comparably educated natives; instead they                      drives down          productivity and have no
complement natives and encourage specialization,                    wages, most                 significant effect on
having little overall effect on natives’ wages. Low-                economic                        overall wages for
skilled immigrants and low-skilled natives are not                  studies have                  American workers.
perfect substitutes for each other. Immigration and                 found the
specialization lend themselves to a more productive                 opposite—
society, and increase wages across the board.                       that immigrants either have a positive effect on
                                                                    wages or a near negligible effect. The impact on the
The U.S. workforce is becoming older and better                     wages of workers tends to fluctuate from study to
educated, and yet there is still a need for low-skilled             study but seems to cluster around 0%. Immigrants
workers. In the 1960s, about half of the men in the                 tend to have a positive effect on the economy
United States joined the low-skilled labor force; now               because they differ from U.S. natives in their
it is only about 10%. However, the United States                    educational and skill levels, and because more
continues to create jobs for low-skilled workers.                   workers in the U.S. labor force increase productivity
Replacing the baby boomers through 2016 is                          and stimulate the creation of new business. Many
expected to generate 33.4 million job openings,                     jobs simply would not exist if immigrants had not
while economic growth is expected to create an                      come to the United States.
additional 17.4 million job openings.
                                                                    Economist Giovanni Peri measured immigration’s
Growth in immigration is a form of labor                            impact over the span of a decade, and his study
replacement for the aging U.S. workforce. For                       revealed that the average yearly wages of U.S.
example, a study of immigrants in Arkansas found                    native-born workers increased 1.8% because of
that from 2000 to 2005, the native-born population                  immigration. Admittedly, some studies have found
in that state did not grow at all, while the number of              that native-born workers without a high school
immigrants rose, slowing the decline of the Arkansas                diploma tended to face some negative consequences
manufacturing sector. As numerous studies have                      due to immigration, but they lost only 1.1% of their
shown, undocumented immigrants usually arrive in                    yearly wages because of immigration.
the United States when the economy is growing and
move to areas where there is strong job growth. The                 According to other research, a 10% increase in the
U.S. unemployment rate remains relatively low at                    number of immigrants might decrease wages by less
6.1%, and economists have found that if there is any                than 1%. However, numerous other studies have
relationship between immigration and                                shown the opposite—that even low-skilled native-

                                       Clergy for Tolerance | www.clergyfortolerance.org
                                           Welcoming the Stranger:
                               A Toolkit on Immigration for People of Faith

born workers have an overall increase in wages due                 aging workforce, combined with lower fertility and
to immigration.                                                    no expected increase in labor force participation, has
For example, two studies on communities with a                     the potential to lower GDP and economic growth.
large influx of immigrants over a short time period
found that wages increased, even for the low-skilled               In 2030, about one in five U.S. residents is expected
workers most likely to feel the competition of new                 to be 65 or older. This age group is projected to
immigrants, because immigrants stimulated both                     more than double the current number (38.7 million)
labor supply and demand. Further research has also                 to 88.5 million by 2030. The age group of those 55
shown that, by and large, the average effect of                    and older is expected to increase by 20 million by
immigrants on wages of U.S.-born workers is                        2016, which is almost equivalent to the total
positive, but it tends to be more positive for highly              expected increase in population. Replacement of
educated workers, with little impact on those                      the baby boomers in just the next decade is
without a high school diploma.                                     expected to generate 33.4 million job openings,
                                                                   while economic growth is expected to create 17.4
Studies have also found at the local level that there              million job openings. Job projections show that the
is little to no impact on wages. In a study of more                baby boomer generation is going to create jobs not
than 100 cities, economist David Card found that the               just because they are leaving the workforce, but also
wages of natives tend to be higher in high immigrant               because they are going to need an increase in health
population cities. Further, in Arkansas, poverty                   care and social assistance.
actually fell during the economic boom and wave of
immigrants of the 1990s.                                           Immigration to the United States peaked at the end
                                                                   of the 1990s and has been slowing down since 2000.
                                        The                        However, immigration is expected to help the U.S.
       Myth: Immigrants will composition of                        economy fill the labor force gap as the baby
                                        the U.S.                   boomers retire. Approximately one-fourth of
               cause massive,
                                        population will            projected labor force growth will be because of
   unnecessary population change                                   immigration. Jobs requiring a bachelor’s degree are
        growth in the United significantly in                      anticipated to grow at a faster rate than other
                          States. the next few                     occupations, yet occupations that only require short
            Fact: As the baby decades.                             or moderate “on-the-job” training will account for
    boomer begins to retire While the                              about half of all jobs by 2016. Of the top 30 fastest-
  and the U.S. fertility rate overall                              growing occupations, 18 are in professional and
            declines, it will be population will                   related occupations, and 10 are service occupations.
                                        increase, the              Immigrants continue to come to the United States to
       necessary to replace baby boomer                            fill jobs in a growing economy. To maintain an
        our aging workforce generation will                        annual GDP growth between 2% and 3%, the U.S.
           with immigrants to begin to retire,                     economy will need workers to fill jobs as the baby
          maintain economic changing the                           boomers begin to retire.
                         growth. entire dynamic
                                        of the U.S.
                                        population                                                      Undocumented
and workforce. The U.S. Census Bureau found that                                                        immigrants pay
women are now ending their childbearing years with
                                                                         Myth: Undocumented             the same taxes
an average of 1.9 children each, which is below the                     immigrants do not pay           that all U.S.
2.1 needed for replacement-level fertility. Further,                                      taxes.        residents pay.
over the last 40 years, women entered the                                Fact: Undocumented             Most
workforce in record numbers, helping to increase                       immigrants pay billions          undocumented
U.S. economic development and productivity, but                        of dollars in taxes each         immigrants
the labor force participation rate is expected to                      year, often for services         have provided
remain flat at around 66%. While the population is                                                      an employer
                                                                       they will never receive.
growing at about 0.9% annually, without                                                                 with counterfeit
immigration, the workforce would likely shrink. The                                                     documents, so

                                      Clergy for Tolerance | www.clergyfortolerance.org
                                           Welcoming the Stranger:
                               A Toolkit on Immigration for People of Faith

typical payroll taxes, such as federal income tax and              these two types of services can prove to be
Social Security and Medicare taxes, are automatically              challenging for some communities, the percentage
deducted from their paychecks. Immigrants actually                 of immigrants using these services is small. For
have a positive impact on the solvency of Social                   example, only 1.5% of elementary schoolchildren
Security and Medicare—in 2007, the Old-Age,                        were undocumented, and only 3% of secondary
Survivors, and Disability Insurance (OASDI) Trustees               children were undocumented. Undocumented
Report noted that 100,000 net new immigrants a                     immigrants do not qualify for: food stamps, Social
year would increase the long-range actuarial balance               Security, Supplemental Security Income, Temporary
by approximately 0.07% of taxable payroll.                         Assistance for Needy Families, Medicaid (except for
                                                                   emergency services), Medicare “Premium Free” Part
There is more than $586 billion accumulated in the                 A, and public housing and Section 8 programs.
earned suspense file, or unmatched Social Security
Administration (SSA) contributions. The earned                     Research has shown that immigrants use public
suspense file is growing by about $66 billion a year.              services less than natives, and the immigrant groups
These unmatched funds exist largely because of                     that do use public services are refugee groups, not
taxes paid by undocumented immigrants.                             undocumented immigrants. Many states, such as
                                                                   Arizona, Texas, and Arkansas, have completed
Many undocumented immigrants, if not through                       studies which found that immigrants have a positive
payroll taxes, also obtain Tax Identification Numbers              net fiscal impact on their state budgets. In Florida,
(TINs) to pay taxes because they want to ensure that               immigrants pay nearly $1,500 per year more in taxes
they are obeying the law.                                          than they receive in benefits. Even if all of the
                                                                   undocumented immigrants were granted legal status
Undocumented immigrants also purchase goods and                    based on previous legislative proposals, they would
services where they live and pay sales tax on those                not be eligible for green cards for at least eight
goods, as well as property taxes. In Colorado alone,               years, and then they would have to wait five more
undocumented immigrants paid between $159                          additional years to be eligible to receive most public
million and $194 million through state and local                   benefits.
sales, property, and income taxes. In Georgia, the
average undocumented family contributed between
$2,340 and $2,470 in local and state sales, property,              Rounding up
and income taxes. In Oregon, undocumented                          and deporting            Myth: The Government
workers paid between $134 and $187 million a year                  the estimated            should just enforce the
in taxes, and their employers contributed an                       12 million
                                                                                                       law to solve our
additional $97 to $136 million a year in taxes.                    undocumented
                                                                   immigrants in
                                                                                             immigration problems.
                                                                   the United             Fact: Enforcement alone
                                   Immigrants, even                States would                      will not solve our
                                                                                             immigration problems.
         Myth: Immigrants legal immigrants,                        take an
                                   do not have                     enormous                       The cost would be
       come to the United access to most                           amount of              prohibitive, it would have
        States for welfare welfare benefits,                       effort and               a detrimental effect on
                    benefits. under the                            money.
                                                                                          the U.S. economy, and it
    Fact: The law forbids Personal                                 Deporting
                                                                                        would simply push certain
  immigrants from using Responsibility and                         undocumented
                                                                                            immigrants further into
         welfare services. Work Opportunity                        immigrants
                                   Act of 1996, until              would cost at                     the underground
                                   they have been                  least $206                                 economy.
legal permanent residents for at least five years. The             billion over five
only benefits that immigrants are able to access are               years, or
emergency health care (as mandated by law) and                     roughly $41 billion annually over five years. These
public elementary and secondary schooling for their                costs currently exceed the entire budget for the
children (also as mandated by law). While providing                Department of Homeland Security.

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                                                                   year than in the past, but the entries are still a lower
If all the undocumented were removed from the                      percentage of the population than during past waves
country, the immediate negative effect would be                    of immigration. For example, during the 1990s,
$1.76 trillion in annual lost spending and $651.51                 about 1.5 Mexican immigrants entered for every
billion in annual lost output.                                     1,000 U.S. residents per year. In the mid-19
                                                                   century, there were an estimated 3.6 Irish
Undocumented migration has been shown to                           immigrants entering each year for every 1,000 U.S.
respond most directly to the fluctuation of the                    residents.
business cycle. For example, migration has
decreased in 2008, responding to the U.S. economic                 The high demand and long waiting list for English
downturn. Increased border security has simply                     language classes around the country indicate that
caused the increase of coyotes, or people smugglers.               many new immigrants have a strong desire to learn
There have also been other unintended                              English. As has been the case throughout American
consequences to increased border security. For                     history, new immigrant arrivals to the United States
example, traditional migrants from Mexico came to                  are often not fluent in English. However, the best
the U.S. to work for 6-12 months and then return                   way to measure how well a group is assimilating is to
home, but because of the expense of hiring a coyote,               look at the next generation. The vast majority (88%)
these migrants are now choosing to stay                            of Hispanic U.S.- born adult children (second
permanently.                                                       generation) speak English very well. While about
                                                                   half of foreign-born Hispanics admit to speaking only
Enforcing the law alone will not solve our                         Spanish at home, only 11% of their adult children
immigration problems, but a more rational                          speak only Spanish in their homes. The Spanish-
immigration system that meets America’s economic                   speaking immigrants arriving today are learning
need for workers will. Numerous security experts                   English just as fast as previous European immigrants
have testified before Congress saying that                         did.
regularized, legal immigration flows will assist border
security personnel to focus on the security threats,               To truly judge how well immigrants assimilate, it is
instead of on legitimate workers. Previous guest                   incorrect to look at the newest arrivals because they
worker programs, such as the Bracero program, have                 will very likely be the least assimilated. Immigrants
proven to significantly lower illegal border                       who have been in the country longer are much more
apprehensions when legal means are in place for                    likely to be living above the poverty level and to
workers to come to the United States. Making life                  have entered the middle class. About two-thirds of
more difficult for undocumented immigrants may                     immigrants in California who have lived in the United
cause some to leave, but the majority will find a way              States for 30 years or more own homes. The longer
to stay and will likely be further pushed into an                  that immigrants are in the country, the more they
underground economy.                                               assimilate.

                                   Every wave of                   The incarceration rate
     Myth: Immigrants are immigrants has                           for immigrants is           Myth: Immigrants
                                   been accused of                 actually much lower         are more likely to
            not assimilating
                                   not assimilating                than for U.S. natives.
     Fact: Immigrants are into American                                                           commit crimes
                                                                   From the 2000 census,
      assimilating at much society. Two of                         the incarceration rate
                                                                                               than U.S. natives
    the same rate as past the primary                              of native-born men           Fact: Immigrants
     waves of immigrants. charges are that                         ages 18 to 39 was                have a much
                                   the new wave of                 actually five times                     lower
                                   Latino immigrants               higher than the rate for    incarceration rate
is larger than any wave of immigrants in the past,                 foreign-born men            than U.S. natives
and that they are simply not interested in learning                (3.5% compared to
English. In terms of gross numbers, there are more                 0.7%, respectively).
immigrants currently entering the United States per                Foreign-born Mexicans, Salvadorans, and

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Guatemalans—the three nationalities that make up                  migrants that may have come temporarily are now
the majority of the undocumented immigrant                        choosing to stay permanently because it is too
population—had the lowest incarceration rates of                  dangerous to travel back and forth across the
any Latin American nationality. The foreign-born                  border.65 One study during the 1990s found that
incarceration rate was also two and a half times                  about one-third of all Mexican migrants returned
lower than for native non-Hispanic white men.                     home each year, and about 70% returned home
                                                                  after five years.66
While many of the recently arrived immigrants have
similar characteristics with groups of natives that               Presently, there are very few legal visas available for
tend to have high incarceration rates (low levels of              someone who simply wants to come and work in the
education, lower wage levels, young, and male), they              United States. The three temporary worker
are much less likely to be arrested or convicted.                 programs that currently exist are the H-1B program
Instead, recent immigrants to the United States                   for highly skilled workers, the H-2B program for
overall tend to have lower criminal propensities than             strictly nonagricultural seasonal work, and the H-2A
the native born, or even previous waves of                        program for agricultural work. All these programs
immigrants. Further, as the undocumented                          either have low caps that are reached every single
population has grown in the last two decades, both                year or impractical barriers that make them difficult
the violent crime rate and the property crime rate                to use. While there are limited numbers of
have declined by a third and a quarter, respectively.             temporary worker visas, there are even fewer
                                                                  employment-based green cards available. These
                                                                  programs do not meet all of the United States’
                                      Migration                   economic needs. For example, there is no visa
                                      from Mexico                 available for a carpenter to come to the country to
  Myth: Workers that come
                                      to the United               work for two or three years if an employer simply is
    to the United States as           States has                  unable to find a U.S. worker. If there are appropriate
     temporary workers will           historically                legal visas for workers to come to the United States
   stay in the country once           been circular               to work temporarily, there is no reason to think that
          their visas expire.         in nature.                  the historical pattern of circular Mexican migration
           Fact: Historically,        However,                    would not continue.
      migrants from Mexico            increased
       worked in the United           border
                                      security has                (For complete document with citations, please see U.S. Chambers
   States for a few months                                        of Commerce: http://www.uschamber.com/reports/immigration-
                                      had at least
          or years, but then          one                         myths-and-facts)
   returned home. Border              unintended
    enforcement has made              consequence.
   that pattern much more             Because of
                     difficult.       the expense
                                      of hiring a
                                      coyote, many

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                                           Welcoming the Stranger:
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                                          IMMIGRATION BASICS

Who Is an Immigrant?

According to U.S. law, an immigrant is a foreign-born individual who has been admitted to reside permanently in
the United States as a Lawful Permanent Resident (LPR).

How Do Immigrants Get Admitted to Permanently Reside Here?

Typically, a foreign-born individual seeking to become an LPR can do so in one of three ways:

1. Through family-sponsored immigration, a U.S. citizen can sponsor his or her foreign-born spouse, parent (if the
sponsor is over the age of 21), minor and adult married and unmarried children, and brothers and sisters. A Lawful
Permanent Resident can sponsor his or her spouse, minor children, and adult unmarried children. Our immigration
system divides the family members eligible for sponsorship into two tiers. Immediate relatives of U.S. citizens—
that is, spouses, unmarried minor children and parents, but not brothers and sisters or unmarried and married
adult children—are admitted as their applications are processed.

2. Through employment-based immigration, a U.S. employer can sponsor an individual for a specific position
where there is a demonstrated absence of U.S. workers.

3. By winning one of a limited number of immigrant visas available in the annual diversity visa lottery that is open
to immigrants from certain countries.

Who is a Refugee?

A refugee is a person outside of the United States who seeks protection on the grounds that he or she fears
persecution in his or her homeland. To obtain refugee status, a person must prove that he or she has a “well-
founded fear of persecution” on the basis of at least one of five specifically-enumerated and internationally
recognized grounds. Those grounds include the person’s race, religion, membership in a social group, political
opinion, or national origin. A person who has already entered the United States, and who fears persecution if sent
back to his or her country, may apply for asylum here. Once granted asylum, the person is called an “asylee.” Like a
refugee, an asylum applicant must also prove that he or she has a “well-founded fear of persecution” based on the
same enumerated grounds.

Who is an Undocumented Immigrant?

An undocumented immigrant is a person who is present in the United States without the permission of the U.S.
government. Undocumented immigrants enter the U.S. either illegally, without being inspected by an immigration
officer, or by using false documents, or legally, with a temporary visa, and then remain in the U.S. beyond the
expiration date of the visa.

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Who is a Non-immigrant?

A non-immigrant is an individual who is permitted to enter the U.S. for a period of limited duration.
Nonimmigrants include: students, tourists, temporary workers, business executives, diplomats, artists and
entertainers, and reporters. Depending on where they are from and the purpose of their visit, non-immigrants may
be required to apply for and obtain a visa from the U.S. government. The application process entails an interview
with a U.S. consular official in the nearest U.S. consulate, who has the sole authority to grant or deny a visa. Even
if granted, the visa is merely a travel document. All non-immigrants—regardless of whether they have a U.S. visa—
must also pass immigration inspection upon arrival in the U.S.

Who is a Naturalized Citizen?

Lawful Permanent Residents are eligible to apply for U.S. citizenship through a process called naturalization. To
qualify for naturalization, applicants generally must reside in the U.S. for five years (three if they are married to a
US. citizen) without having committed any serious crimes, show that they have paid their taxes and are of “good
moral character,” and demonstrate a knowledge of U.S. history and government as well as an ability to
understand, speak, and write ordinary English.

What’s the Difference Between a Refugee and an Asylee?

Refugees and asylees are people seeking protection in the U.S. on the grounds that they fear persecution in their
homeland. A refugee applies for protection while outside the United States. An asylee differs from a refugee
because the person first comes to the United States and, once here, applies for protection. Refugees generally
apply in refugee camps or at designated processing sites outside their home countries. In some instances, refugees
may apply for protection within their home countries, such as in the Former Soviet Union, Cuba, and Vietnam. If
accepted as a refugee, the person is sent to the U.S. and receives assistance through the “refugee resettlement

How Does Someone Gain Refugee Status?

To qualify for refugee resettlement in the U.S., a person must come from a country designated by the Department
of State. The person must meet the definition of a refugee by proving that she has a well-founded fear of
persecution. The refugee applicant must prove that this fear is based on the possibility of persecution because of
her race, religion, membership in a social group, political opinion, or national origin. In addition, a refugee must fit
into one of a set of “priority” categories, which factor in degree of risk to the refugee’s life, membership in certain
groups of special concern to the U.S., and existence of family members in the U.S. A person claiming refugee
status must undergo a vigorous screening process before being resettled in the U.S.

First, the person is screened by the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) to determine if she
qualifies as a refugee under international law. If she qualifies, she next is screened by the U.S. embassy in the host

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country, which contracts with private organizations to collect personal information about refugees. The embassy
will check the name of the refugee in its Consular Lookout and Support System (CLASS), which contains the names
of millions of persons who have been denied visas, or who may be otherwise ineligible for entry into the U.S. If she
passes that test, an officer from U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) conducts a face-to-face
interview and reviews the file. The refugee is then photographed and fingerprinted by the State Department.

Certain refugees must receive clearance from the FBI. If no problems arise in all of this screening, the refugee
proceeds to the U.S., where an inspector from the Bureau of Customs and Border Protection conducts one more
interview and compares the refugee with host country U.S. embassy records. While these redundant checks
ensure that no one who is not entitled to refugee status will get it, they have greatly slowed the admissions
system, and hampered our ability to protect vulnerable individuals. Thousands of refugee “slots” have gone
unused in recent years, even as the admission ceilings have been greatly reduced from those of the recent past.
Without additional resources, the U.S. is falling short of its commitment to protect refugees.

After refugees have been in the U.S. for one year, they are eligible to become permanent residents. There is no
limit to the number of refugees who may become permanent residents each year.

Family-Sponsored Immigration

Family-sponsored immigration is the way U.S. citizens and lawful permanent residents bring family members from
other countries to live permanently in America. Citizens may sponsor only their spouses, children, parents (if the
citizen is older than 21 years), and brothers and sisters (if the citizen is older than 21 years). LPRs may sponsor only
their spouses and unmarried children. Neither citizens nor LPRs may bring in more distant family members, such as
aunts, uncles, and cousins.

Our immigration system divides the family members eligible for sponsorship into two tiers. Immediate rela- tives
of U.S. citizens—that is, spouses, unmarried minor children and parents, but not brothers and sisters or unmarried
and married adult children—are admitted as their applications are processed.

Non-immigrant Visas

“Non-immigrants” are tourists, students, and other persons who come temporarily to the U.S. for pleasure,
business, study, diplomacy, or other purposes on an alphabet soup of visa categories. The total number of
immigrants—family-sponsored, employment-based, and diversity immigrants—is small compared to the number
of people who come here for short periods of time. These non-immigrants outnumber immigrants by about 30 or
40 to 1. In fiscal year 2003, nearly 28 million persons came to this country temporarily. Of those, more than 24
million came here as tourists or business visitors.

Visas for Tourists and Business Visitors

The vast majority of people coming to the U.S. temporarily do so for tourism or business. In most countries, these
individuals must obtain a visa from a U.S. embassy or consulate. In reviewing an application for a temporary visa,

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U.S. immigration law requires consular officers to ensure that the applicant does not intend to stay permanently.
Therefore, a visa applicant must prove that he or she plans to return on or before the time the visa expires. The
applicant can do this by showing that he or she has a residence outside the U.S. and other ties that will insure he or
she will return before the expiration date of the visa. In addition to proving they are not “intending immigrants,”
visa applicants are fingerprinted and photographed, and information about them is check against government
databases of persons who are ineligible to enter the U.S. because of criminal activity, past visa problems, or links to
terrorist groups.

Visas for Students

Over one-half million students come to the U.S. each year. A person is considered a student if he or she comes to
the U.S. to enroll in coursework of 18 hours or more per week. To obtain a student visa, a person must first apply
to a U.S. academic institution, be accepted, and receive an immigration form “I-20” from the school. The student
must then apply for a visa at a U.S. Consulate in his or her home country. Among the things the student may need
to show in the visa application process are acceptance to a U.S. school, availability of sufficient funds to cover all
expenses for the entire course of study without resorting to employment in the U.S., evidence of family and/or
economic ties to the home country sufficient to induce him or her to return after completing the coursework and,
if required by the school, proficiency in English. Students are usually allowed to remain in the U.S. for the duration
of their studies. If there is any change in the student’s status—that is, if his or her coursework drops below the
minimum required, or if the student changes field of study—the school is required to report this information to the

The increased scrutiny of visa applications for students in recent years has led to months-long delays for some
students, and a perception that the U.S. is a less-welcoming place to study. For the first time in three decades,
enrollment of foreign students in U.S. colleges and universities fell in 2004. Information about foreign students is
collected via the Student and Exchange Visitor Information System (SEVIS), an internet-based system which
maintains immigration status information, such as admission at a port of entry, as well as personal and academic
information about students, such as their course load, field of study, current address, and other information. Any
change in this information must be reported to the government by the school, using SEVIS.

The schools themselves must have permission to enroll foreign students. Most U.S. colleges and universities have
been approved by the government to enroll foreign students. With the requisite permission, other institutions—
including vocational schools, junior colleges, public high schools, and language training schools—may also enroll
foreign students.

Visitors Not Required to Obtain Visas

Canadians crossing over the U.S. border are generally not required to have a visa. Citizens from the 27 participating
countries in the Visa Waiver Program also are not required to obtain a visa if they are planning to come to the U.S.
for business or pleasure for a period of 90 days or less. However, there are strict conditions under which people
may come to the U.S. under the Visa Waiver Program—they must have valid, machine-readable, passports; their
stay is limited to a maximum of 90 days; they must have round-trip tickets, if they arrived by air or sea; and they

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must have proof of financial solvency. If they do not have a machine-readable passport, they must apply for and
obtain a visitor visa.

The U.S. places strict rules on the participating countries before they are admitted to the Visa Waiver Program.
First, the non-immigrant visitor visa refusal rate (the rate of visa applications denied by U.S. consular officers) must
be three percent or less for the previous fiscal year. Second, the participating country must offer reciprocal visa-
free travel for U.S. citizens. Third, the country must have a machine readable passport program in place. Fourth,
the country must be politically and economically stable. Fifth, the participating country must have effective border
controls for its own borders. Sixth, law enforcement agencies in the participating country must be cooperating
with their U.S. counterparts. Finally, the U.S. considers any possible security concerns that might be raised, should
a country be admitted to the program.

Countries participating in the Visa Waiver Program are: Andorra, Australia, Austria, Belgium, Brunei, Denmark,
Finland, France, Germany, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Liechtenstein, Luxembourg, Monaco, The Netherlands,
New Zealand, Norway, Portugal, San Marino, Singapore, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, and the United

Regardless of whether they have a visa, arriving foreigners are fingerprinted and photographed through the
USVISIT program, which eventually will be deployed to become a regular part of the inspection procedure at all
land, air, and sea ports of entry. Foreigners leaving the country will again have to check in with US-VISIT so that the
Department of Homeland Security will have information on whether the visitor complied with the terms of his or
her stay. By February 2005, the program had not been fully implemented, but procedures to collect information
from foreigners exiting the U.S. were being tested at a number of airports.


Naturalization is the process by which eligible legal immigrants become U.S. citizens. Through the naturalization
process, immigrants display a willingness to become full members of our society. The process is not an easy one. It
requires that immigrants live in the U.S. for a certain number of years, learn our language, study our history and
government, show that they are of “good moral character” and have not committed serious crimes and, finally,
swear allegiance to the United States. Over time, most immigrants become citizens.

The Naturalization Process

Eligibility: An applicant for citizenship must be at least 18 years of age, and must have resided continuously in the
U.S. as a Legal Permanent Resident for at least five years prior to filing. Permanent residents who have been
married to a U.S. citizen for three years are eligible to apply for citizenship. There are special expedited provisions
for immigrants serving in the armed forces during a designated period of armed conflict. Children who are adopted
from another country automatically have U.S. citizenship conferred to them as long as one or both parents are U.S.
citizens, the child is under 18, and the child is legally residing in the U.S. with the U.S. citizen parent or parents.
Immigrants must be of “good moral character,” usually determined by checking with the FBI for any record of a
criminal background. A person must also demonstrate an ability to speak, read, and write ordinary English and
have a general understanding of U.S. government and history.

Long-time older permanent residents are exempt from the English requirement if they are 50 years or older and
have been living in the U.S. for at least 20 years, or if they are 55 years or older and have been living in the U.S. for

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at least 15 years. These immigrants must still demonstrate knowledge of U.S. history and government, but they
may do so in their native language. Certain persons with disabilities are exempt from the requirement to
demonstrate knowledge of U.S. history and government.

Interview: After submitting an application and fee to U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), an
appointment is made with the applicant to take his or her fingerprints, which are checked by the FBI. An interview
is then scheduled with the applicant, during which an immigration examiner reviews the application and
determines if the applicant meets the requirements for U.S. citizenship. To demonstrate English proficiency and
knowledge of U.S. history and government, the applicant must be prepared to answer several history and civics
questions. They may also be asked to read a sentence or brief passage from a USCIS textbook, and to write a
sentence dictated by the examiner.

Oath and Swearing-In: Approved candidates for citizenship must take an Oath of Renunciation and Allegiance,
giving up foreign allegiances and titles and swearing to support and defend the Constitution and laws of the U.S. If
the person has a severe disability preventing him or her from understanding, or communicating an understanding
of, the meaning of the Oath, the person may obtain a waiver of the Oath requirement. The final step in the
naturalization process is the swearing-in ceremony, which can take place before a judge or in an administrative

What Public Benefits Do Immigrants and Refugees Receive?

Determining whether or not an immigrant qualifies for public benefits is a complicated matter. Eligibility for
benefits depends on a number of factors, among them:

• her immigration status;

• whether or not she entered the U.S. before or after the 1996 welfare reform law was enacted

(August 22, 1996);

• length of residence in the U.S.;

• her income and resources and the income and resources of the family member who sponsored her;

• work history;

• whether she is a child or adult;

• her state of residence; and

• the various other eligibility requirements of the particular benefits program.

Most benefits programs are open only to long-term, lawful immigrants. A small number of programs (such as
school lunch programs and emergency medical services) are open to all people in need. For federal means-tested
public benefits, newly-arrived legal immigrants generally are: barred for their first five years in the U.S.; and
subject thereafter to a process called “deeming” where the income and resources of the U.S. citizen or Lawful
Permanent Resident sponsor of the immigrant are added to the immigrant’s own income to determine whether

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                                                  Welcoming the Stranger:
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the immigrant is poor enough to qualify for the benefit under the program’s financial guidelines. Deeming
continues until the new immigrant either becomes a citizen or works 40 “qualifying quarters” (at least 10 years).
The work of a spouse (or of a parent in the case of a child under 18) also counts towards the 40 quarters.

After becoming naturalized citizens, or working for 40 quarters, legal immigrants are generally eligible for federal
and state programs provided they meet the general program criteria.

Shouldn’t Family Sponsors Be Responsible for the Immigrant’s Care?

They are. U.S. citizens or Lawful Permanent Residents wishing to sponsor an immigrant relative for admission to
the U.S. must earn enough (125% of the poverty level for the family size, including the immigrant) to demonstrate
that they are financially capable of supporting the immigrant so that the immigrant does not need to rely on public
benefits. They also must sign a legally-enforceable affidavit of support. This document makes the sponsor liable for
the immigrant’s use of means-tested benefits until the arriving immigrant obtains citizenship or works 40
“qualifying quarters” (at least 10 years) without using means-tested services.

Are Undocumented Immigrants Entitled to Any Federal Government Services?

While immigrants who are not here legally are ineligible for nearly all federal benefits, they are still eligible for
certain very basic kinds of assistance, including: emergency Medicaid, immunizations, testing and treatment for
the symptoms of communicable diseases, short-term non-cash disaster relief, school lunches and breakfasts, and
certain other programs essential to public health and safety.

(Justice for Immigrants: http://www.justiceforimmigrants.org/documents/immigration-basics.pdf)

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                                           Welcoming the Stranger:
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      2011 TENNESSEE LEGISLATIVE WRAP-UP                           trust in local law enforcement, and promote an
                                                                   environment of racial and status profiling.
In the 2011 legislative session, we saw numerous
efforts to criminalize and further marginalize                     Another piece of Arizona’s “show me your papers”
members of the immigrant community. There were                     law was introduced in Tennessee as a standalone
renewed attempts to burden different segments of                   bill, specifically designed to deny essential
society—state employees, local law enforcement,                    government services to immigrant families (SB1325
school teachers, small business owners—with the                    by Johnson, HB1379 by Carr). If passed, it would
complex task of verifying legal immigration                        have created an unnecessary and artificial barrier for
documents. There were also several measures that                   all government services, requiring verification of
would prevent immigrant students from attending                    immigration status before any service from a
college, discourage immigrant kids from attending                  government agency or entity is provided. These
public school, and create new barriers for immigrant               blanket verification bills don’t just chill participation
families accessing essential government services.                  by immigrants and refugees eligible to receive
                                                                   services, they result in tragic mistakes with people
Below you will find descriptions of the major                      getting improperly turned away due to bad data or
legislative successes and challenges this year.                    misinterpretation of documents. We were able
Although there were several near-misses and                        to successfully argue that the financial and human
disappointments, together we were successful in                    costs of this legislation were simply too significant to
defeating almost all of the anti-immigrant legislation,            bear.
and in amending any bill that did pass to minimize its
negative impact. None of this would have been                      Educators Take Stand Against Intimidation of
possible without the tireless work of immigrant                    Immigrant Kids In K-12:
leaders, strong allies, and everyone who took the                  Nothing is more important than educating our
time to get involved.                                              state’s future leaders. Nevertheless, a few elected
                                                                   officials attempted to require parents enrolling
Given the many challenges this session, the increase               students in public schools to provide proof of
in anti-immigrant legislation across the                           immigration status upon registration (SB1760 by
southeast, and the continued failure of Congress to                Ketron/HB1085 by Weaver), requiring
overhaul our legal immigration system, it's clear that             undocumented parents to sign a written statement
our struggle will continue in 2012.                                about their immigration status and scaring
                                                                   immigrant families away from enrolling their kids at
Celebrating Our Successes                                          all. In the end, the House sponsor was instructed to
Arizona Copycat Bills Deferred Until 2012:                         take her bill off notice by the Committee Chair
The Arizona copycat bill (SB780 by Ketron, HB1380                  because it lacked the votes to pass.
by Carr) would have required every law enforcement
officer in the state, every time he or she stopped                 Looking Ahead
someone for any minor offense, to contact federal
immigration authorities based on mere suspicion of                 Employment Eligibility Verification Program Won’t
an immigration violation. Individuals would be held                Solve Federal Issue:
on the side of the road while local police sorted                  Despite months of opposition from powerful
through documents, and then transported at local                   business interests, the legislature did pass a heavily
expense to some detention facility. Someone could                  amended E-Verify bill requiring businesses with
be detained up to 48 hours on mere suspicion of an                 more than 500 employees to begin using the
immigration violation, even if they committed no                   verification system (in some circumstances) by
local offense. We were able to successfully argue                  January 2012. The E-Verify program is being sold as
that the bill was prohibitively expensive in terms                 an easy fix that would curb unauthorized
of implementation costs and lost business                          employment by undocumented immigrants and
development. The TN Attorney General also issued                   protect jobs for Tennesseans. But proposals to
an opinion finding that the bill would likely violate              expand the program entirely ignore the effect the
both the Tennessee Constitution and U.S.                           program will have on U.S. citizens and lawful
Constitution. Arizona copycat laws undermine the                   permanent residents. Database errors incorrectly

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                                          Welcoming the Stranger:
                              A Toolkit on Immigration for People of Faith

identify lawfully present immigrants, refugees and
U.S. citizens as not authorized for employment. At a
time when our state is focused on stimulating the                 Unprecedented attack on refugees:
economy, it is important that we do not continue to               The "Absorptive Capacity Act,” better known as the
enact policies that will increase unemployment and                “Refugees Not Welcome Act” (SB 1670 by Tracy),
jeopardize job security.                                          passed during the 2011 session. Even though the bill
                                                                  has been amended to have no practical effect, we
We are all deeply troubled by the number of workers               are concerned encourages local governments to pass
in the economy who lack legal status. However, we                 symbolic resolutions to discourage further refugee
should all be working together for a federal solution             resettlement. The bill allows city governments to
that gives Tennessee businesses access to a legal                 request a non-binding moratorium on future
workforce. It is important to keep in mind that this              resettlement activities if they find that refugee
law will not affect small businesses until 2013, and              community members create any pressure in the
we have a year and a half to convince our legislators             labor market for US-born workers.
to abandon this error-ridden program. In the
meantime, we must monitor implementation of the                   (TIRRC, http://www.tnimmigrant.org/policy/2011-legislative-
amended law and respond to abuses as they occur.

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                                    Welcoming the Stranger:
                         A Toolkit on Immigration for People of Faith

                        IMMIGRATION AND THE ECONOMY

 Immigrants, no matter what their status, pay sales tax, real estate taxes, and gasoline taxes –
                                    the same as citizens.

 If they work on a cash basis, they don’t have federal and state income taxes, or social security
 taxes, deducted – but neither do U.S.-born citizens who are baby-sitters, snow shovelers, lawn
                                           mowers, etc.

If immigrants are employed on a more formal basis, they have all the same taxes deducted from
 their paychecks as citizens – households headed by undocumented immigrants paid more than
               $157 million in sales and property taxes here in Tennessee in 2010

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                                           Welcoming the Stranger:
                               A Toolkit on Immigration for People of Faith

“In this world nothing is certain but death and
taxes.” -Benjamin Franklin

As the debate over illegal immigration expands,                    Even at the State Level, Undocumented Immigrants
some make the claim that unauthorized immigrants                   Still Pay More in Taxes Than They Use in Services
do not pay taxes and rely heavily on government
benefits.                                                          A 2006 study by the Texas State Comptroller found
                                                                   that “the absence of the estimated 1.4 million
Neither is borne out by the facts. Undocumented                    undocumented immigrants in Texas in fiscal 2005
men have work force participation rates that are                   would have been a loss to our gross state product of
higher than other cohorts of workers, and all                      $17.7 billion. Undocumented immigrants produced
undocumented are ineligible for most government                    $1.58 billion in state revenues, which exceeded the
services, but pay taxes as workers, consumers, and                 $1.16 billion in state services they received.”
                                                                   Similarly, a 2007 study by the Oregon Center for
Like The Rest of Us, Undocumented Immigrants Pay                   Public Policy estimated that undocumented
Taxes                                                              immigrants in Oregon pay state income, excise, and
                                                                   property taxes, as well as federal Social Security and
Undocumented immigrants contribute to the U.S.                     Medicare taxes, which “total about $134 million to
economy not only through the labor they provide,                   $187 million annually.” In addition, “taxes paid by
but through the taxes they pay. Between one-half                   Oregon employers on behalf of undocumented
and three-quarters of undocumented immigrants                      workers total about $97 million to $136 million
pay federal and state income taxes, Social Security                annually.” As the report goes on to note,
taxes, and Medicare taxes. And all undocumented                    undocumented workers are ineligible for the Oregon
immigrants pay sales taxes (when they buy anything                 Health Plan, food stamps, and temporary cash
at a store, for instance) and property taxes (even if              assistance.
they rent housing).
                                                                   Likewise, a 2007 report from the Iowa Policy Project
According to the 2005 Economic Report of the                       concluded that “undocumented immigrants pay an
President, undocumented immigrants working “‘on                    estimated aggregate amount of $40 million to $62
the books’…contribute to the tax rolls but are                     million in state taxes each year.” Moreover,
ineligible for almost all Federal public assistance                “undocumented immigrants working on the books in
programs and most major Federal-state programs.”                   Iowa and their employers also contribute annually
The report also notes that immigrants in general                   an estimated $50 million to $77.8 million in federal
“contribute money to public coffers by paying sales                Social Security and Medicare taxes from which they
and property taxes (the latter are implicit in                     will never benefit. Rather than draining state
apartment rents).”                                                 resources, undocumented immigrants are in some
                                                                   cases subsidizing services that only documented
The Undocumented and Social Security:                              residents can access.”
Contributing Yes, Collecting No
                                                                   Spending Begets More Spending and a Stronger
The Social Security Administration (SSA) has                       Economy
concluded that undocumented immigrants “account
for a major portion” of the billions of dollars paid               The consumer purchasing power of undocumented
into the Social Security system under names or social              immigrants—what they spend on goods, services,
security numbers that don’t match SSA records and                  and housing—not only creates new jobs, but also
which payees therefore can never draw upon. As of                  provides federal, state, and local governments with
October 2005, these payments—which are tracked                     additional revenue through sales, income, business,
through the SSA’s Earnings Suspense File (ESF) —                   and property taxes.
totaled $520 billion.
                                                                   In other words, spending by undocumented
                                                                   immigrants has an economic “multiplier effect.” For

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                                            Welcoming the Stranger:
                                A Toolkit on Immigration for People of Faith

instance, a 2002 study by the center for Urban                      Product. This spending, in turn, sustained 31,908
Economic Development at the University of Chicago                   jobs in the local economy.
found that undocumented immigrants in the Chicago
metropolitan area alone spent $2,89 billion in 2001.                (For full article with citations, see Immigration Policy Center,
                                                                    2007: http://www.immigrationpolicy.org/just-
These expenditures stimulated “an additional “$2.56
billion in local spending,” for a total of $5.45 billion
in additional spending, or 1.5% of the Gross Regional

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                                           Welcoming the Stranger:
                               A Toolkit on Immigration for People of Faith

U.S.-Mexico Trade and Migration

Global Exchange, 2007

Today, Mexico is the country with the largest                      Economic decline under NAFTA has led to
international migrant population in the world. The                 unprecedented levels of income inequality in
Mexican authorities estimate that over 11 million                  Mexico. Today, the richest 10 percent of Mexico’s
Mexicans, or 11 percent of the total population,                   population makes 25 times what the poorest 10
reside outside the country.                                        percent make, and the country’s income inequality
                                                                   index remains among the highest in the world. A
One of the main promises of the North American                     2006 comprehensive study found that inflation-
Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) was that it would                     adjusted wages for virtually every category of
create enough jobs to prevent Mexicans from                        Mexican worker decreased over NAFTA’s first six
seeking work across the border. However, between                   years. The workers that experienced the highest
1994 and 2004, 450,000 Mexicans have crossed the                   losses of real earnings were employed women with
border into the U.S., without authorization, every                 basic education (-16.1 percent) and employed men
year, on average. The total, annual number of                      with advanced education (-15.6 percent).
immigrants from Mexico grew by 65 percent,
compared to the previous decade. Undocumented                      Mexican government data show that the elimination
arrivals, increasing 160 percent decade on decade,                 of food security policies under NAFTA led to over 1.3
have far surpassed the number of documented                        million Mexican peasant farmers losing their
arrivals, which have declined 38 percent over the                  livelihoods as subsidized U.S. food imports flooded
same period.                                                       the market. While the price paid to Mexican corn
                                                                   farmers fell by about half following NAFTA, the price
NAFTA’s defenders argue that the trade agreement                   of tortillas has shot up 738 percent – in sharp
has been good for Mexico by citing Mexico’s average                contrast to promises by NAFTA’s boosters that
annual GDP growth of 3 percent since the                           Mexican consumers would benefit from the pact.
agreement passed. This compares favorably to the
2.2 percent average growth during the “lost decade”                Trade liberalization has reduced living standards for
of 1981 to 1993, but it is dismal compared to the                  the Mexican poor since the 1980s. Today the
average annual growth of the previous twenty years                 minimum wage in Mexico buys only one third of
(1961-1980), 6.73 percent.                                         what it was able to buy in 1982.

In per capita terms, Mexico’s GDP grew by an annual                Prior to NAFTA, 36 percent of Mexico’s rural
average of 1.69 percent between 1994 and 2006.                     population earned less than the minimum wage
Again, compared to the statistic for the “lost                     needed to purchase food, a number that grew by
decade” or “transition-to-an-open-market economy”                  nearly 50 percent in the agreement’s first four years.
period of 1981 to 1993, 0.15 percent, this looks                   Today, the percentage of the Mexican population in
positive. However, from 1960 to 1980, Mexico’s per                 this state of poverty remains roughly where it was
capita GDP grew by 3.56 percent yearly, on average.                before NAFTA, despite the promises made by the
This last figure represents a doubling of per capita               pact’s proponents.
GDP, even as Mexico’s population doubled during
the period. Mexico would be very close to European                 According to the Washington Post story on the 10-
living standards today had it continued its previous               year anniversary of NAFTA, “19 million more
rate of growth.                                                    Mexicans are living in poverty than 20 years ago,
                                                                   according to the Mexican government and
According to the Woodrow Wilson Institute,                         international organizations. About 24 million –
“Declining opportunities in rural Mexico have                      nearly one in every four Mexicans – are classified as
spurred migration to the United States.” Although                  extremely poor and unable to afford adequate
the Mexican rural population makes up only 25% of                  food.”
the total population, it contributes to 44 percent of
all migrants to the U.S.

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          Welcoming the Stranger:
A Toolkit on Immigration for People of Faith

     Clergy for Tolerance | www.clergyfortolerance.org
              Welcoming the Stranger:
    A Toolkit on Immigration for People of Faith


         Clergy for Tolerance | www.clergyfortolerance.org
          Welcoming the Stranger:
A Toolkit on Immigration for People of Faith

     Clergy for Tolerance | www.clergyfortolerance.org
          Welcoming the Stranger:
A Toolkit on Immigration for People of Faith

     Clergy for Tolerance | www.clergyfortolerance.org
                             Welcoming the Stranger:
                   A Toolkit on Immigration for People of Faith

“Discussion of immigration and government policy must begin with the
truth that every human being in made in the image of God (Genesis
1:26-28). Immigrants are made in the image of God and have supreme
value with the potential to contribute greatly to society.” – National
Association of Evangelicals

You shall not oppress a sojourner; you know the heart of a sojourner, for
                you were sojourners in the land of Egypt.
                              Exodus 23:9

     The Qur’an tells us that we should “serve God…and do good
      to…orphans, those in need, neighbors who are near, neighbors
 who are strangers, the companion by your side, the wayfarer that you
              meet, and those who have nothing. (4:36)

 “I'm supposed to help people. A good Samaritan doesn't stop and ask
the injured person. 'Are you legal or illegal?'” – Rick Warren, Saddleback

                        Clergy for Tolerance | www.clergyfortolerance.org
          Welcoming the Stranger:
A Toolkit on Immigration for People of Faith

     Clergy for Tolerance | www.clergyfortolerance.org
          Welcoming the Stranger:
A Toolkit on Immigration for People of Faith

     Clergy for Tolerance | www.clergyfortolerance.org
                   Welcoming the Stranger:
      A Toolkit on Immigration for People of Faith

From http://www.immigrantsolidarity.org/Documents/R-D-1-DetentionFINAL.pdf

              Clergy for Tolerance | www.clergyfortolerance.org
                           Welcoming the Stranger:
                 A Toolkit on Immigration for People of Faith

“Discussion of immigration and government policy must begin
with the truth that every human being in made in the image of
God (Genesis 1:26-28). Immigrants are made in the image of
God and have supreme value with the potential to contribute
greatly to society.” – National Association of Evangelicals

  You shall not oppress a sojourner; you know the heart of a
   sojourner, for you were sojourners in the land of Egypt.
                         Exodus 23:9

 “I'm supposed to help people. A good Samaritan doesn't stop
  and ask the injured person. 'Are you legal or illegal?'” – Rick
                  Warren, Saddleback Church

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                                Welcoming the Stranger:
                      A Toolkit on Immigration for People of Faith

Major Characters in the Judeo-Christian Narrative Who Were
                  Immigrants or Refugees

          (World Relief)

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                                           Welcoming the Stranger:
                               A Toolkit on Immigration for People of Faith

The Bible contains many commands and instructions                  You shall not deprive an immigrant or an orphan of
for how to treat immigrants and workers. The word                  justice; you shall not take a widow’s garment in
for “immigrant” in the Bible is often translated as                pledge.
“alien” or “stranger.”                                             Deuteronomy 24:17

There shall be one law for the native and for the                  When you reap your harvest in your field and forget
immigrant who resides among you.                                   a sheaf in the field, you shall not go back to get it; it
Exodus 12:49                                                       shall be left for the immigrant, the orphan, and the
                                                                   widow, so that the LORD your God may bless you in
But the seventh day is a Sabbath to the LORD your                  all your undertakings.
God; you shall not do any work — you, your son or                  Deuteronomy 24:19
your daughter, your male or female slave, your
livestock, or the non-native resident in your towns.               “Cursed be anyone who deprives the immigrant, the
Exodus 20:10                                                       orphan, and the widow of justice.” All the people
                                                                   shall say, “Amen!”
You shall not oppress a sojourner; you know the                    Deuteronomy 27:19
heart of a sojourner, for you were sojourners in the
land of Egypt.                                                     I was a father to the needy, and I championed the
Exodus 23:9                                                        cause of the stranger.
                                                                   Job 29:16
The immigrant who resides with you shall be to you
as the citizen among you; you shall love the                       Hear my prayer, O LORD, and give ear to my cry; do
immigrant as yourself, for you were immigrants in                  not hold your peace at my tears. For I am your
the land of Egypt: I am the LORD your God.                         passing guest, an alien, like all my forebears.
Leviticus 19:34                                                    Psalm 39:12

When you reap the harvest of your land, you shall                  The field of the poor may yield much food, but it is
not reap to the very edges of your field, or gather                swept away through injustice.
the gleanings of your harvest; you shall leave them                Proverbs 13:23
for the poor and for the immigrant: I am the LORD
your God.                                                          Thus says the LORD: Act with justice and
Leviticus 23:22                                                    righteousness, and deliver from the hand of the
                                                                   oppressor anyone who has been robbed. And do no
You shall have one law for the immigrant and for the               wrong or violence to the alien, the orphan, and the
citizen: for I am the LORD your God.                               widow, or shed innocent blood in this place.
Leviticus 24:22                                                    Jeremiah 22:3

I charged your judges at that time: “Give the                      The people of the land have practiced extortion and
members of your community a fair hearing, and                      committed robbery; they have oppressed the poor
judge rightly between one person and another,                      and needy, and have extorted from the alien without
whether citizen or sojourner.                                      redress.
Deuteronomy 1:16                                                   Ezekiel 22:29

You shall also love the stranger, for you were                     Do not oppress the widow, the orphan, the alien, or
strangers in the land of Egypt.                                    the poor; and do not devise evil in your hearts
Deuteronomy 10:19                                                  against one another.
                                                                   Zechariah 7:10
You shall not abhor any of the Edomites, for they are
your kin. You shall not abhor any of the Egyptians,
because you were strangers residing in their land.
Deuteronomy 23:7

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                                                   Welcoming the Stranger:
                                    A Toolkit on Immigration for People of Faith

Then I will draw near to you for judgment; I will be
swift to bear witness against . . . those who oppress
the hired workers in their wages, the widow and the
orphan, against those who thrust aside the alien,
and do not fear me, says the LORD of hosts.
Malachi 3:5

For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty
and you gave me something to drink, I was a
stranger and you welcomed me.
Matthew 25:35

Contribute to the needs of the saints; extend
hospitality to strangers.
Romans 12:13

Do not neglect to show hospitality to strangers, for
by doing that some have entertained angels without
knowing it.
Hebrews 13:2

Listen! The wages of the laborers who mowed your
fields, which you kept back by fraud, cry out, and the
cries of the harvesters have reached the ears of the
Lord of hosts.
James 5:4

(From the North Carolina Council of Churches and the American
Friends Service Committee,

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                                            Welcoming the Stranger:
                                A Toolkit on Immigration for People of Faith

Breaking the                                                        Bentley signed on June 9 a morally repugnant bill
Tradition of                                                        into law. Prior to that date, the state's Christian
Reactivity; Building                                                denominations sat on the sidelines as the bill moved
Moral Capital for                                                   through the legislature, as first reported by
Immigration Reform
                                                                    "Opposition to the bill within the white Alabama
By: Robert Parham                                                   Baptist community was not visible, nor was
Posted: Wednesday, July                                             evidence available that other Christian
6, 2011 7:00 am                                                     denominations opposed the
Section: Editorials                                                 legislation," reported EthicsDaily.com. "Multiple
                                                                    sources told EthicsDaily.com that Christian
                                                                    denominational leaders voiced publicly no
                                                                    disagreement with the bill."

                                                                    After Bentley signed the bill, Julian Gordy, bishop of
                                                                    the Southeastern Synod of the Evangelical Lutheran
                                                                    Church in America, wrote Alabama's governor a
                                                                    letter of deep concern.

                                                                    R. G. Lyons, pastor of Community Church Without
                                                                    Walls, a United Methodist Church, also took an
                                                                    initiative to challenge the law.

                                                                    He told EthicsDaily.com that he drafted an open
                                                                    letter to Bentley signed by a host of Methodist
                                                                    ministers characterizing House Bill 56 as "an unjust

                                                                    Lyons' initiative came after he spoke with pastors of
 Participants in a Palm Sunday peace march in                       Hispanic congregations and Matt Lacey at
 downtown Des Moines, Iowa. The sign says, "No                      Woodlawn United Methodist Church.
 human being is illegal." (Photo: EthicsDaily.com)
                                                                    "[W]e believe that this law is not only impractical,
Only after Alabama Gov. Robert Bentley, a Southern                  but it also contradicts the essential tenets of the
Baptist, signed into law the nation's harshest anti-                Christian faith," read the letter. "HB 56 would force
immigration bill did the state's goodwill faith leaders             many of our churches and many people in our
voice their public opposition to the law.                           churches to become lawbreakers, because we
                                                                    believe that God has called us to be a church in
One wonders what is morally wrong with Alabama's                    ministry to ALL people. United Methodists across
leaders of faith – not the right-wing demagogues                    the state welcome people regardless of immigration
who thump the Bible and play the fear card, but the                 or citizenship status. Many of our fastest growing
goodwill faith leaders who see the biblical                         churches are Spanish-speaking, and we do not check
imperative to welcome the stranger.                                 people's immigration status at the door."

Take a look at what happened.                                       The letter concluded: "We call on the governor to

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                                               Welcoming the Stranger:
                                  A Toolkit on Immigration for People of Faith

call a special legislative session to review this bill,                when the dust is settled.
and we call on the legislature to repeal HB56."
                                                                       Here's another example of not speaking in the
Alabama's two Methodist bishops spoke publicly                         fullness of time.
against the law after Lyons' initiative.
                                                                       Last week, a Southern Baptist Convention leader
"It is a profoundly disappointing decision and a sad                   gave a qualified letter of support to a U.S. Senate
moment for our state," said Episcopal Bishop Henry                     committee for the DREAM Act – a path to
Parsley in a statement almost a week after the bill                    citizenship for undocumented students to go to
was signed.                                                            college or to join the military. That was a good step.

He noted that the law "will make it impossible to                      Too bad he didn't express support for the DREAM
love and be hospitable to our neighbors as we ought                    Act in December 2010 when 60 votes were needed
to be."                                                                in the Senate to pass the DREAM Act bill in a
                                                                       politically charged moment.
Ronnie Brewer, coordinator of Alabama Cooperative
Baptist Fellowship, wrote that "the law before our                     Given the recent passage of harsh anti-immigration
state regarding immigration seems to be out of                         laws in Alabama, Georgia and South Carolina and
character with what I believe best for us... I have                    the likelihood of the introduction of punitive bills
expressed my opposition to the bill through petition                   next year in Florida, Indiana and Tennessee, now is
and email. I would encourage those of you opposed                      the time to build moral capital for a good society on
to do the same."                                                       the immigration front.

Having attended a screening of EthicsDaily.com's                       Given the high possibility for loud extremism in the
forthcoming immigration documentary at the                             upcoming 2012 political races, now is the time.
annual Baptist Center for Ethics luncheon in Tampa,
Fla., Brewer added, "I feel it [the documentary]                       We can proactively build moral capital or we can be
provides an excellent conversation starter for                         reactive – again – when things heat up and
groups within the church."                                             extremists threaten to prevail. We can break the
                                                                       defective tradition of being reactive. We can sever
More than two weeks after Bentley signed the bill                      the dreadful trend of taking a stand when the coast
into law, Greater Birmingham Ministries held a                         is clear and the cost is low.
candlelight protest in downtown Birmingham
attended by some 2,500 people.                                         What can goodwill faith leaders do?

Goodwill Alabama faith leaders have offered a                          One step is to schedule public screenings of our
substantive moral critique of a bad law. Their robust                  forthcoming documentary on immigration. Include a
response deserves acknowledgment and gratitude.                        panel discussion afterward.

However, this story illustrates a fundamental flaw in                  Screenings are already scheduled for Atlanta,
the moral community – the defective tradition of                       Denver, Greensboro, N.C., Little Rock, Ark., and
being reactive rather than proactive.                                  Georgetown, Ky. Screenings are under consideration
                                                                       in Oklahoma City, Raleigh, N.C., and Richmond, Va.
The faith community has a bad habit of speaking out
against a bill after it has become law. Faith leaders                  When we showed the documentary in Tampa to
have a dreadful trend of taking a moral position                       some 400 attendees, one could have heard a pin
                                                                       drop on carpet. When we screened the

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                                            Welcoming the Stranger:
                                A Toolkit on Immigration for People of Faith

documentary at the United Methodist Building in
Washington, D.C., last week, denominational agency
officials and faith-based leaders watched intently.

We think that a documentary funded by the United
Methodist Foundation of Arkansas and produced by
EthicsDaily.com that features prominently a Catholic
bishop is one that covers a lot of Christian real
estate. It will connect to goodwill Christians in your

Let's bring the goodwill Christian community
together through the vehicle of a 31-minute
documentary to address the civil rights issue of the
21st century. It's one proactive initiative that we can
take together.

Robert Parham is executive editor of EthicsDaily.com
and executive director of its parent organization, the
Baptist Center for Ethics.

                                       Clergy for Tolerance | www.clergyfortolerance.org
                                       Welcoming the Stranger:
                            A Toolkit on Immigration for People of Faith

Recent Public Statements by                                    intelligent enforcement of our nation’s
                                                               immigration laws as long as the enforcement
Prominent American Evangelical                                 measures are consistent with respect for
Leaders on Immigration and                                     human dignity, family values and the sanctity of
Immigration Reform                                             human life.
                                                                         If we are true to our deepest values,
Leith Anderson (Wooddale Church, Eden                          our immigration policies must prioritize the
Prairie, Minnesota, and the National Association               incomparable value of family. The current
of Evangelicals)                                               backlog in family reunification petitions, with
                                                               waiting periods stretching into years and even
“Evangelical churches have long reached out to                 decades, is shortsighted, and immoral. It causes
both established and newly arriving immigrant                  much suffering, and tempts desperate people
populations. Our fastest growing churches are                  to work around our laws, where our system
found in immigrant communities. In some of                     offers no realistic possibilities for timely family
                                 our                           reunion.
  “Why is immigration            denominations                           Evangelicals do not condone law
  policy important to            more than half                breaking. In fact, evangelicals recognize that all
                                 of the                        human beings have broken God’s laws, and
  evangelicals? Certainly
                                 congregations                 need God’s grace, mercy and forgiveness. Jesus
  because we believe
                                 have substantial              taught that those who are forgiven must in turn
  what the Bible teaches         numbers of                    be willing to forgive others (Matthew 6:14-15).
  about treatment of             immigrant                     Laws must serve the good of society and create
  "aliens in the land." It is    members.                      law and order; when they do not, they need to
  also because so many           There are no                  be changed. We believe that undocumented
  Hispanic, African and          immigration or                immigrants who have otherwise been law
  Asian immigrants are           citizenship                   abiding members of our communities should be
  evangelical Christians         requirements                  offered the opportunity to pay any taxes or
  who are in our                 for membership                penalties owed, and over time earn the right to
  denominations and              in our churches.              become U.S. citizens and permanent residents.
                                 Our churches                  The process of redemption and restitution is
  churches by the
                                 embrace the                   core to Christian beliefs, as we were all once
  millions. They are us.”
                                 biblical                      lost and redeemed through love of Jesus
                                 invitation:                   Christ…
                                 “Whoever is                             Why is immigration policy important to
thirsty, let them come; and whoever wishes, let                evangelicals? Certainly because we believe
them take the free gift of the water of life.”                 what the Bible teaches about treatment of
(Revelation 22:17) We believe, with St. Paul,                  "aliens in the land." It is also because so many
that “God does not show favoritism.” (Romans                   Hispanic, African and Asian immigrants are
2:11) Our churches are open to all who seek                    evangelical Christians who are in our
God’s grace and mercy, regardless of their                     denominations and churches by the millions.
immigration status. And that is as it should be.               They are us.
          Does this mean that evangelicals do not                        As we begin a new national
recognize the right and responsibility of nations              conversation on reforming our immigration
to regulate their borders? Far from it.                        policies, evangelicals offer you a pledge of
Evangelicals believe that government is a gift of              civility and humility in public discourse. We
God for the common good. Borders are                           recognize that the issues are complex, and that
necessary for public order. We support                         any policy changes may have unintended

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                                                   Welcoming the Stranger:
                                     A Toolkit on Immigration for People of Faith

consequences. When you conduct town hall                                  examined the alleged ‘facts,’ none of them
meetings on immigration reform in your home                               withstood scrutiny. Some of them distorted the
states, we look forward to an honest, intelligent                         data: For instance, approximately 62 percent of
and respectful dialogue. We ask you to model                              all births in Los Angeles County are to Hispanic
civility in your deliberations in the Congress,                           women. But this number includes American
and in the media. We ask you to work in a                                 citizens, legal aliens, Hispanics from countries
bipartisan manner to enact urgently needed                                other than Mexico, and has nothing to do with
reforms, for the sake of the immigrants among                             Medicaid.
us, and for the health of the nation.”                                             The so-called ‘facts’ about illegal alien
                                                                          criminality are even worse: They are deliberate
(Testimony to U.S. Senate Judiciary Subcommittee on                       misrepresentations or complete fabrications…
Immigration, Refugees, and Border Security, October 8, 2009,
Washington, D.C., available online at                                              Christians must work to see that the
http://judiciary.senate.gov/pdf/10-08-                                    immigration debate generates light instead of
09%20Anderson%20testimony.pdf)                                            heat. We must insist that the illegal-
                                                                          immigration issue be addressed without
                                                                          treating millions of Americans, many of whom
Chuck Colson (Prison Fellowship)                                          have died protecting our country, as a kind of
                                                                          fifth column.
                                                                                   That is the very least we can do if we
          “’Did you know that “95 percent of                              are obedient to God’s command to welcome
warrants for murder in Los Angeles are for                                strangers.”
illegal aliens?’ Or that ‘75 percent of people on
the Most Wanted List in Los Angeles are illegal                           (From “Defending the Strangers in our Midst,” published at
aliens’? What’s more, ‘Over [two-thirds] of all                           Townhall.com, June 9, 2006, available online at
births in Los Angeles County are to illegal alien                         ding_the_strangers_in_our_midst)
Mexicans on [Medicaid] whose births were paid
for by taxpayers.’
                                 This is
                                 outrageous.                              Michael Gerson (Institute for Global
   “The so-called ‘facts’        Especially since                         Engagement, former advisor to President
   about illegal alien           none of it is true!                      George W. Bush)
   criminality are even          Instead, it’s just
   worse: They are               one example of                                    “I believe that a relatively open
   deliberate                    how, in some                             immigration system ultimately is good for the
   misrepresentations or         ways, we have                            economy – though it causes dislocations that
   complete                      gone beyond                              must be addressed. I believe that an orderly
   fabrications…”                worrying about                           guest worker system would make it easier to
                                 illegal                                  have an orderly border. But the debate on
                                 immigration to                           immigration is not merely utilitarian – not just a
demonizing the immigrants themselves.                                     matter of costs and benefits. It also concerns
          This example came from a widely                                 our deepest values as a people – values often
circulated e-mail that was posted on at least                             informed by faith… It is true that Latinos, in
130 conservative websites. It listed ten ‘facts                           some ways, are different from mainstream
about immigration’ and gave as its source the                             culture. Higher percentages attend church
Los Angeles Times.                                                        regularly. Higher percentages of Latin
          Not only was the Los Angeles Times not                          immigrants are married; lower percentages are
the source of these ‘facts,’ when the paper                               divorced. These differences hardly threaten our

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                                                 Welcoming the Stranger:
                                    A Toolkit on Immigration for People of Faith

unity or identity. Every new immigrant group                             upon the right path. The need for
has challenges. But Latinos – including illegal                          Comprehensive Immigration Reform is to create
immigrants – often display values emblematic                             a path that will help people do the right thing. A
of America, risking much for the sake of                                 broken system produces a dysfunctional
economic and political freedom. They make our                            society, fractured families, and it increases the
country more, not less, American.                                        vulnerability of both legal and illegal residents.
          The biblical tradition teaches a positive                      It helps
duty to care for the stranger in our midst.                              criminals who
                                                                                             “In the end, I believe our
Christian ministries provide help to anyone,                             thrive in the
                                                                                             nation will be not be
whatever their legal status – because if                                 shadows and
righteousness were a requirement for mercy,                              it harms            judged by the
none of us would deserve or receive mercy. And                           decent              productivity of our
it is a great theme of the biblical story that                           people,             budgets, or the genius of
God's purposes are often fulfilled through                               consigning          our laws, or even the
refugees – in Egypt, in the wilderness, in                               them to a life      earnestness of our faith
Babylon, in the flight from Herod, in the                                of insecurity,      communities. We will be
temporary, troubled kingdoms of this world.                              hiding, and         judged, both by history
          These beliefs do not translate                                 minimal             and by God, by the way
simplistically into open borders and amnesty.                            contribution        we treated people,
They do mean, however, that immigrants                                   to the general
                                                                                             especially those who
should never be used as objects of organized                             welfare.
                                                                                             needed our help.”
anger or singled out for prejudice and harm.”                                     A
                                                                         broken system
(Testimony to U.S. Senate Judiciary Subcommittee on                      produces both broken and crooked people. The
Immigration, Refugees, and Border Security, October 8, 2009,
Washington, D.C., available online at                                    cost to our nation in terms of productivity,
http://judiciary.senate.gov/hearings/testimony.cfm?id=4108&wit           national unity, and national security is
_id=8257)                                                                depressing. But it does not compare to the
                                                                         damage being done to individuals and families…
                                                                                  Immigration reform is a morally
Joel Hunter (Northland—A Church Distributed,                             complex as well as a politically explosive
Orlando, Florida)                                                        challenge. But many of us are praying earnestly
                                                                         for you and for God's wisdom in this matter.
         “In my faith tradition we all start as                                   Including the stranger is not just a
strangers and aliens, outsiders to the                                   matter of compassion but a necessity for
commonwealth of God. But because we have a                               greatness.
God who was willing to do what it took to                                         Loving your neighbor as you love
include us (at great personal cost), we "are no                          yourself is not only a moral commandment but
longer strangers and aliens, but [we] are fellow                         a path to national nobility, if we can build a
citizens?" (Ephesians 2:18-19a)                                          nation of families and support networks that
         So I find it a high honor to speak to                           not only help the marginalized to be successful,
those in power as an advocate for those who                              but help the successful to be helpful, then we
have no power. In a verse that would be echoed                           can better live up to our potential as a people.
in many religions, Proverbs 31:8 commands us                                      In the end, I believe our nation will be
to "Speak up for those who cannot speak for                              not be judged by the productivity of our
themselves."…                                                            budgets, or the genius of our laws, or even the
         The hope of any religion is that those                          earnestness of our faith communities. We will
who have been on the wrong path can be set                               be judged, both by history and by God, by the

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                                                 Welcoming the Stranger:
                                    A Toolkit on Immigration for People of Faith

way we treated people, especially those who                              recognized as particularly vulnerable (Psalm
needed our help.”                                                        146:9, Zechariah 7:10).
                                                                                  In the New Testament, Jesus helped
(Testimony to U.S. Senate Judiciary Subcommittee on                      define our neighbors for us in the Parable of the
Immigration, Refugees, and Border Security, April 30, 2009,
Washington, D.C., available online at                                    Good Samaritan (Luke 10:25-37). He tells of an
http://judiciary.senate.gov/hearings/testimony.cfm?id=3793&wit           individual who encounters and serves a
_id=7856)                                                                migrant, presumably of a different culture, in
                                                                         need—and he commands us to “go and do
                                                                         likewise.” Jesus also tells his followers to
Lynne and Bill Hybels (Willow Creek                                      welcome the stranger (Matthew 25:35) when
Community Church, South Barrington, Illinois)                            he says,
                                                                         “what you
          “Our faith informs us that we were all                                          “Through immigration, ‘all
                                                                         do to the
strangers and aliens once, separated from God.                                            nations’ have entered our
                                                                         least of my
Because God was willing to include us in his                             brethren,        churches and become part of
redemptive plan, we “are no longer strangers                             you do           us. Whatever our cultural
and aliens, but [we] are fellow citizens”                                unto me”         differences, we are united as
(Ephesians 2:18-19a). As Christians, we accept                           (Matthew         one body in Christ.”
the biblical perspective that we are all                                 25:40).
sojourners on this earth, commanded to                                   These biblical principles can help guide us as we
steward it while we await the full arrival of                            consider how to treat immigrants today, both
God’s eternal kingdom. Recognizing that we are                           on a personal and societal level…
all sojourners on this land, no matter what our                                   Willow Creek has a sizeable portion of
legal status, compels us to extend solidarity to                         undocumented immigrant members who are
all. This deep sense of solidarity with others is a                      working diligently in the U.S. to provide for their
foundational truth of our country. We are a                              families, but because of their legal status are
nation with historical roots grounded in                                 not able to fully integrate into their
immigration: out of necessity, many of our                               communities and are often exploited because
ancestors came to this country, and then found                           they don’t have a voice with which to speak…
a home here…                                                                      My husband and I are grieved by the
          This perspective can help inform our                           fear and uncertainty dominating the lives of
current perspectives on immigration.                                     hundreds of wonderful undocumented
Remembering our own history as immigrants,                               immigrants in our church congregation, as well
we must take God seriously when, in Scripture,                           as thousands in our community. These people
he repeatedly calls on his people to remember                            touch our lives when they become clients of our
their past as sojourners and to treat the aliens                         Care Center, which provides food and other
among them accordingly. “The strangers who                               services to low-income individuals throughout
sojourn with you shall be to you as the natives                          our community. These stories and many others
among you, and you shall love them as yourself;                          reveal a broken immigration policy that does
for you were strangers in the land of Egypt”                             not live up to who we are as a country.
(Leviticus 19:33-34). Throughout the Old                                          God has entrusted the church with the
Testament, God repeats the command to love                               mission of making disciples of all nations
the alien just as he himself does (Deuteronomy                           (Matthew 28:19-20). Through immigration, “all
10:18), and makes clear his desire for us to                             nations” have entered our churches and
emulate his special concern for the foreign-born                         become part of us. Whatever our cultural
who, along with orphans and widows, are                                  differences, we are united as one body in Christ.
                                                                         1 Corinthians 12:12-26 says that when one part

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                                                    Welcoming the Stranger:
                                      A Toolkit on Immigration for People of Faith

of the body suffers, we all suffer together. As                            Richard Land (Ethics and Religious Liberty
we have listened to our immigrant brothers and                             Commission of the Southern Baptist
sisters in order to understand how our                                     Convention)
immigration system is affecting them, we have
heard their suffering and we must share their                                       “I am in favor of a measure that
suffering.                                                                 includes controlling the borders and enforcing
         As a result of the broken immigration                             immigration laws inside the country, while
system, we have undocumented immigrants in                                 offering no amnesty for lawbreakers. This is my
our communities. They are us. They are our                                 position and the position that emerges from
fellow evangelical brothers and sisters in Christ,                         any fair and objective reading of the SBC
with the same desires and motivations that we                              resolution.
have. While the church has begun the work of                                        The term “comprehensive legislation” is
integrating these members into our society, we                             not code for amnesty, no matter what my critics
can and must do better—and we will do better.                              contend. Webster defines amnesty as the “act
And we call on all Americans and all U.S. policy-                          of an authority (as a government) by which
makers to do better…                                                       pardon is granted to a large group of
         We have learned that many                                         individuals.” Amnesty is wiping a transgressor’s
undocumented immigrants share our values                                   record clean—it is a free ride.
and are vibrant believers in our shared faith.                                      Proper reform should consist of a
Many have taught us deep lessons about what                                “guest-worker” program that requires an illegal
it means to be fully dependent on God for our                              immigrant to undergo a criminal background
needs; others have been models of graceful                                 check, pay a fine, agree to pay back taxes, learn
hospitality who have challenged us to be more                              English, and get in line behind those who have
hospitable people. We have benefited from                                  legally migrated into this country in order to
having them in our midst, and we are deeply                                apply for permanent residence after a
grieved when they are dehumanized by a                                     probationary period of years. Amnesty? Hardly.
broken system or demonized by the careless                                          To call any proposed requirement—that
words of those who don’t see their worth.                                  individuals must learn to read and write and
         We ask all Americans to engage in this                            speak English and go through a rigorous process
debate with civility and respect. And we pray                              in order to earn their way out of a lengthy
that our leaders will have godly wisdom                                    period of “probation” in order to apply for legal
regarding this issue.                                                      status—“amnesty” is to do violence to the
         Bill and I are committed to immigration                           English language.
reform and hope that it will pass Congress                                          One must not only learn how to read,
soon.”                                                                     write, and speak English properly; one must use
(From written testimony submitted to U.S. Senate Judiciary                 the language as it was intended. Words have
Subcommittee on Immigration, Refugees, and Border Security,
October 8, 2009, Washington, D.C.; excerpts available online at            agreed upon meanings. One cannot change the
http://blog.sojo.net/statement-of-lynne-and-bill-hybels-for-the-           meanings of words arbitrarily. Penalties,
                                                                           probation, and requirements do not equal
                                                                                    My position and the position of most
                                                                           Southern Baptists with whom I have spoken on
                                                                           this issue embraces the thought that if these
                                                                           immigrants choose to travel on a “path of legal
                                                                           status and/or citizenship,” it must include
                                                                           certain financial, time, and other requirements.
                                                                           Amnesty? Hardly.”

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                                                     Welcoming the Stranger:
                                      A Toolkit on Immigration for People of Faith

(From the web site of the Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission           ship 20 million of them back to Mexico. It's not
of the Southern Baptist Convention, August 3, 2007, available
online at http://erlc.com/article/statement-by-richard-land-on-             going to work that way.
truly-comprehensive-immigration-reform/)                                            Just like illegal parking is against the law
                                                                            and we are charged a reasonable fee when
                                                                            we're caught, so too we should charge a
Max Lucado (best-selling author and Oak Hills                               reasonable penalty for illegal immigrants but
Church, San Antonio, Texas)                                                 one that doesn't require them to return to their
                                                                            home country.”
“I'm not a political activist. I do have stronger
feelings than others on immigration reform                                  (From “What Should We Do About Illegal Immigration,” published
                                                                            at the Desiring God web site, March 10, 2008, available online at
because we have so many people here in San                                  http://www.desiringgod.org/ResourceLibrary/AskPastorJohn/ByT
Antonio who have lived as illegal aliens for a                              opic/187/2658_What_should_we_do_about_illegal_immigration/
decade or two. If they were told to return to                               )

Mexico, it's not a realistic solution for many
people I'm close to. I think finding a pathway to
citizenship is a more responsible, respectful,                              Samuel Rodriguez (National Hispanic Christian
neighborly approach to the solution. “                                      Leadership Conference)

(From an interview with Sarah Pulliam Bailey in Christianity Today,                  “As Hispanic Christians, we stand
October 2010, available online at                                           committed to the message of the Cross.
                                                                            However, that cross is both vertical and
                                                                            horizontal. It is salvation and transformation,
                                                                            ethos and
John Piper (Bethlehem Baptist Church,
Minneapolis, Minnesota)                                                                     “In addition, we urge both
                                                                            and                      parties to repudiate
          “I would like to see us as a country find
                                                                            society,                 all vestiges of
a way to provide for illegal immigrants to stay
                                                                            faith and                xenophobia and
but still have them pay a reasonable penalty.
                                                                            public                   nativism that
Such a solution would give honor to the law and
                                                                            policy,                  saturates this
                                                                            Covenant                 debate.”
                                          mercy to
  “It's not an easy, black-and-                                             and
            white, ‘they                                                    communi
            disobeyed, so get 'em                                           ty, righteousness and justice. Each dependent
                                          s, whose
            out of here’ issue.”                                            on the other, not either or, but both and. We
                                                                            seek to reconcile a platform where John 3:16
                                          are so
                                                                            converges with Matthew 25 while Billy Graham
varied and so many. It's not an easy, black-and-
                                                                            meets Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. at the Masters
white, "they disobeyed, so get 'em out of here"
issue. There's a lot of exploitation. We've
                                                                                     For example, as we deal with
benefited a lot from these people, etc.
                                                                            immigration, via the prism of the vertical and
          As I've looked at both sides it seems
                                                                            horizontal cross, we humbly encourage
that we could probably come up with a way to
                                                                            Congress to finally pass and sign into law
acknowledge that it is against the law (and
                                                                            legislation that will protect our borders, put an
we're not going to say that breaking the law
                                                                            end to all illegal immigration, create a market
doesn't matter), and yet we're not going to say
                                                                            driven guest worker program and facilitate
that it's a simple and easy solution to try and
                                                                            avenues by which the millions of families

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                                                   Welcoming the Stranger:
                                     A Toolkit on Immigration for People of Faith

already in America that lack the legal status can                         links aliens/immigrants with two other
earn such status in a manner that reflects the                            vulnerable groups, widows and orphans, and
Judeo Christian Value system this nation was                              commands Israel to have a special concern for
founded upon.                                                             them all (Psalms 146:9; Ezekiel 22:7; Zechariah
         In addition, we urge both parties to                             7:10; Deuteronomy 14:28-29, 24:19-21). As
repudiate all vestiges of xenophobia and                                  stated in Deuteronomy 10:18, God “defends the
nativism that saturates this debate. For the fact                         cause of the fatherless and the widow, and
of the matter is that these immigrants are God                            loves the alien.”
fearing, hard-working, family loving Children of
God who reflect the values of our founding                                          Jesus taught that anyone in need is our
fathers and embrace the tenets of the American                            neighbor, and then he commanded us to love
Constitution, The Declaration of Independence                             our neighbors as ourselves. Surely that applies
and the Bill of Rights. Moreover, our desire is                           to immigrants.
for every immigrant in America to become a                                          Furthermore, millions of these illegal
productive citizen, master the English language,                          immigrants are sisters and brothers in
embrace the core values of the American idea                              Christ. Our oneness in Christ surely is a stronger
and realize the American Dream                                            bond than any division grounded in differing
         Finally, we understand that every day                            national origins. A concern to protect the
that passes without Comprehensive                                         integrity of the family also compels us to find a
Immigration Reform adds tarnish to the soul of                            way to allow
our Nation. The question arises, can this nation                          undocumented                  “Jesus taught
be saved. Let us save this nation, not by                                 immigrants to         that anyone in need is
providing amnesty but by providing an earned                              stay. Recent          our neighbor, and then
pathway to citizenship. In the name of Justice,                           estimates             he commanded us to
in the Name of righteousness, in the Name of                              suggest that
                                                                                                love our neighbors as
The Divine, pass comprehensive immigration                                almost 5
                                                                                                ourselves. Surely that
reform. By doing so we will protect our borders,                          million children
protect families, and protect our values and in                           in the United         applies to immigrants.”
the end we protect the American Dream.”                                   States have
                                                                          one or more
(Testimony to U.S. Senate Judiciary Subcommittee on Immigration,          undocumented parents. Two-thirds of these
Refugees, and Border Security, October 8, 2009, Washington, D.C.,
available online at                                                       children are themselves US citizens. If we forced
http://judiciary.senate.gov/hearings/testimony.cfm?id=4108&wit            all these illegal immigrants to return home, we
_id=8255)                                                                 would break up millions of families. (Children
                                                                          who are US citizens could return home with a
                                                                          parent, but that would deprive them of
Ron Sider (Evangelicals for Social Action)                                educational and economic opportunity.) It is
                                                                          much more pro-family to find a way to allow
“The Bible talks a great deal about how we                                illegal immigrants to work their way to legal
should treat foreigners. (The Hebrew word ger                             status.
refers to persons who live in an area but are not                                   Does all this mean we ought to grant
native to the local area and therefore often                              amnesty — a full unconditional pardon— to
have no family or land.) The biblical text                                illegal immigrants? After all, God totally forgives
regularly reminded the people of Israel that                              sinners who repent, offering them
they had been immigrants in Egypt and then                                unconditional pardon through the cross. But the
urged them to treat immigrants/aliens very                                church is not the state. The state rightly
generously. Again and again, the Old Testament                            requires that persons pay a penalty for breaking

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                                                 Welcoming the Stranger:
                                   A Toolkit on Immigration for People of Faith

the law. Requiring payment of a substantial fine                        congressional offices. They are pilots and school
would show that breaking the law is wrong.                              teachers, police officers and customs agents.
         Amnesty is not the answer. Neither is                          Some are newscasters, college athletes,
trying to send all illegal immigrants back home.                        entertainers and small business owners. Those
That is anti-family and counter to biblical                             undocumented children mentioned earlier who
teaching about how to treat aliens — not to                             were brought to this country as youngsters
mention impossible and unworkable.”                                     aren't as fortunate, but they're just as capable.
                                                                                   Other consequences are also evident.
(From “Is Immigration Reform Just Another Way of Saying                 Without the passage of comprehensive
‘Amnesty’?,” published in Prism magazine, July 2009, available
online at http://www.esa-                                               immigration reform, legal Hispanic citizens are
online.org/images/mmDocument/PRISM%20Archive/Ron%20Side                 being questioned more often because of the
r%20Column/JulAug09RonSider.pdf)                                        color of their skin and the accent of their
                                                                        speech. On two occasions in the past year,
                                                                        immigration "roundups" were made at area
                                                                        businesses in the neighborhood adjacent to our
James Tolle (The Church on the Way, Van Nuys,                           church. These raids ruined years of excellent
California):                                                            collaborative gains in the community as the Los
                                                                        Angeles Police, local Neighborhood Councils
        “I appear before you today in my role as                        and the Clergy worked together. Among those
pastor of a Los Angeles, California congregation                        taken were undocumented workers, as well as
with approximately 20,000 members… In my                                legal residents and citizens. They were all held
                                   present role                         while efforts to determine their status were
                                   as pastor, I                         being made. Unfortunately, the cherished value
   “Without the passage of         am privileged                        of "innocent until proven guilty" was slow in
           comprehensive           to lead the                          being applied…
           immigration             Spanish-                                        As a faith leader, I have responded to
           reform, legal           speaking                             the instructions of Scripture. They have formed
           Hispanic citizens       services, as                         my worldview on this subject. My pursuit of
           are being               well as the                          comprehensive immigration reform comes from
           questioned more         English ones.                        Leviticus 19:34, which states, "The stranger who
           often because of        The Spanish-                         dwells with you shall be unto you just as one
                                   speaking                             born among you, and you shall love him as
           the color of their
                                   segment of                           yourself." The Prophet Malachi further
           skin and the            our church                           admonishes every believer to not "turn away
           accent of their         has well over
           speech.”                                                     the alien", while Jesus, in Matthew 25:35, calls
                                   10,000                               upon all who follow him to invite the stranger
                                   members and                          to come in. Jesus ultimately adds his
is made up of nationals who have emigrated                              confirmation to that of Isaiah's . . . that he was
from every Spanish-speaking country in this                             to "proclaim liberty" to all.
hemisphere. They are industrious, creative,                                        Although every generation has had its
entrepreneurial and in many cases, scholarly.                           own set of challenges, those who have joined
They are also model residents… Many of the                              the great American journey have always sought
Hispanic children in the congregation I pastor,                         to fulfill the spirit of the above beliefs with
who were born in this country, of immigrant                             immigrants of their generation. It is my hope
parents, are succeeding. From our congregation                          that our generation will make the hard moral
we see them serving in the U.S. military,                               decisions. Comprehensive immigration reform
attending graduate schools, and working in                              is the right moral decision. Our country has

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                                                   Welcoming the Stranger:
                                     A Toolkit on Immigration for People of Faith

assimilated millions upon millions of immigrants
over the centuries. We are a nation of
immigrants. Why should we stop now?”

(Testimony to U.S. Senate Judiciary Subcommittee on
Immigration, Refugees, and Border Security, October 8, 2009,
Washington, D.C., available online at

Rick Warren (Saddleback Church, Southern

        “The role of the church and the
government are fundamentally different. The
church must always show compassion, always.
In Psalm 72, Solomon prays for power and fame
but he says the purpose of influence is to speak
up for others and one is the immigrant. He
doesn't delineate between legal and illegal.
        I'm supposed to help people. A good
Samaritan doesn't stop and ask the injured
person. 'Are you legal or illegal?'”

(Interview in USA Today, September 20, 2009, available online at

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                                           Welcoming the Stranger:
                               A Toolkit on Immigration for People of Faith

An Open Letter to Pastors: Our Nation                              do, I think it’s important for you to understand both
Needs Immigration Reform - Matthew                                 the full context of the congressional hearings that
                                                                   they are referencing as well as a little bit about
Dear Pastors,
                                                                   On Wednesday, three faith leaders -- Richard Land of
This week, a group called NumbersUSA sent out a                    the Southern Baptist Ethics and Religious Liberty
message to hundreds of thousands of Americans,                     Commission, Mat Staver of the Liberty University
asking them to please contact their pastor. The                    School of Law, and Roman Catholic Bishop Gerald
email, from the organization’s president, Roy Beck,                Kicanas -- spoke to members of Congress on why, in
explained that evangelical, Baptist, and Catholic                  their respective views, the federal government has
leaders had testified before Congress this week in                 the responsibility to reform immigration laws in such
support of comprehensive immigration reform.                       a way as to:
NumbersUSA, whose mission is to “stabilize the
                                                                             secure the border;
  “There’s a good reason               States’s                              ensure a viable legal system for future
  that restrictionist groups           population                             migration based on the needs of the
                                       numbers” by                            economy and the societal interest of
  like NumbersUSA need to
                                       pressuring                             maintaining unified families; and
  resort to non-theologians            legislators to
  like Mr. Edwards to try to           “lower                                create an orderly process by which
  make their case: it’s                immigration                            immigrants presently here unlawfully could
  difficult to find a single           levels,” was                           pay a penalty and earn the right to be put
                                       not pleased                            on a long-term path toward citizenship and
  recognizable Christian
                                       with their                             integration.
  leader who is speaking out           testimony.
 against comprehensive                                             Their message was consistent with what other
 reform, while all the major            Given the                  evangelical leaders -- including Bill Hybels of Willow
                                        quantity of                Creek Community Church, who introduced President
 Christian institutions in the
                                        individuals                Obama at his speech on immigration a few weeks
 U.S. -- the Catholic                   across the                 ago, and leaders of denominations such as the
 Bishops, the National                  country who                Assemblies of God, the Evangelical Free Church, the
 Association of Evangelicals            received this              Nazarenes, the Wesleyan Church, the Christian
 and their many member                  email, and the             Reformed Church, and the Vineyard -- have been
                                        fact that these            saying for months (and what the U.S. Catholic
 denominations, the
                                        sort of emails             Bishops have been saying for much longer than
 Southern Baptist                       tend to get                that).
 Convention, and the                    forwarded to
                                                                   Christian leaders nearly unanimously have come to
 National Council of                    many others,
                                        there’s a                  the conclusion that our nation needs this sort of
 Churches -- are all on the                                        comprehensive immigration reform for a few
                                        chance that
 same page.”                                                       reasons. First and foremost, they believe that it is
                                        someone in
                                        your church                biblical: Scripture commands us to care for the
                                        brought you                “alien,” who is repeatedly highlighted along with the
(or will be bringing you) this message. In case they               orphan and the widow as particularly vulnerable and
                                                                   of special concern to God (Psalm 146:9; Ezekiel 22:7;

                                      Clergy for Tolerance | www.clergyfortolerance.org
                                            Welcoming the Stranger:
                                A Toolkit on Immigration for People of Faith

Deuteronomy 10:18; Zechariah 7:10). Leaders also                    the Southern Baptist Convention, and the National
recognize ecclesiological reasons to support reform:                Council of Churches -- are all on the same page.
as immigrants are a rapidly growing segment of the
Church in the United States, pastors see the effects                That’s not to say that there is no space for
of a broken immigration system on families within                   disagreement and charitable discussion over the
their own congregation every day; so their advocacy                 question of immigration; in fact, I think we need
is simply standing with those God has entrusted to                  much more conversation around the topic within our
their care. Finally, Christian leaders recognize                    churches. As we discuss, though, we should make
missiological reasons to support reform: though                     sure that our thinking and analysis are grounded in
many immigrants bring a vibrant faith with them to                  God’s Word, not skewed by secular special interest
the U.S., others hear the hope of the gospel for the                groups seeking to pull a few verses out of context to
first time in this country, and their response to the               suit their purposes. “Test everything,” the Apostle
message that churches preach is certainly affected                  Paul writes, “Hold on to the good. Avoid every kind
by the church’s posture, whether that is one of                     of evil” (1 Thessalonians 5:21-22).
welcome and solidarity or one of fear or apathy.
                                                                    In Christ,
As Christian leaders from across the spectrum have
                                                                    Matthew Soerens
spoken up for comprehensive immigration reform
though, NumbersUSA has gotten nervous. You see,
even though their population control agenda is not
one with which most conservative evangelicals or                    Matthew Soerens is the US Church Training Specialist for
Catholics would eagerly ally, many conservatives                    World Relief and the coauthor of Welcoming the Stranger:
                                                                    Justice, Compassion & Truth in the Immigration Debate
have been confused by the organization’s softened
                                                                    (InterVarsity Press, 2009).
rhetoric in recent years, and there are likely many
Christians on NumbersUSA’s extensive email list.
Defensive, Mr. Beck’s email provides an alternative
Christian perspective on immigration, citing James
Edwards. The theological analysis proffered by Mr.
Edwards -- whose doctorate is in mass
communication, not biblical studies or theology, and
whose career has been in working on Capitol Hill and
at think tanks, not in the church—has already been
charitably but conclusively critiqued by distinguished
evangelical scholars such as Denver Seminary’s
Daniel Carroll(whose book, Christians at the Border,
has been a helpful tool for many pastors wrestling
through this topic).

There’s a good reason that restrictionist groups like
NumbersUSA need to resort to non-theologians like
Mr. Edwards to try to make their case: it’s difficult to
find a single recognizable Christian leader who is
speaking out against comprehensive reform, while
all the major Christian institutions in the U.S. -- the
Catholic Bishops, the National Association of
Evangelicals and their many member denominations,

                                       Clergy for Tolerance | www.clergyfortolerance.org
          Welcoming the Stranger:
A Toolkit on Immigration for People of Faith

     Clergy for Tolerance | www.clergyfortolerance.org
                                      Welcoming the Stranger:
                           A Toolkit on Immigration for People of Faith

Talking Points for a Civil Discussion on Immigration Reform from a Tennessee Perspective

From the Immigration Policy Center, July 2010 (immigrationpolicy.org):

      4% of Tennessee’s population is foreign-born; nearly 1/3 are naturalized U.S. citizens
      In Tennessee, immigrants wield $8.2 billion in consumer purchasing power.
      Sales and tax receipts of Tennessee businesses owned by Latinos and Asians total over $3.2
       billion and employ over 30,000 people
      In the Memphis metropolitan area, Latinos contributed over $1 billion in the local economy
       (2001 figures)
      Latinos in Memphis paid over $85 million in payroll taxes and generated over $12 million in tax
       revenue (2000 figures)
      At a time of economic struggle, Tennessee cannot afford to alienate a critical component of its
       labor force, tax base, and business community.
       In Tennessee, 4 out of 5 children in immigrant families are U.S. citizens
      Tennessee’s foreign students contribute nearly $140 billion to our economy in tuition, fees, and
       living expenses
      The number of immigrants in Tennessee with a college degree increased over 55% from 2000-
      5.2% of Tennessee’s workforce is comprised of immigrants; undocumented workers comprise
      If undocumented workers were deported, Tennessee would lose nearly $4 billion in economic
       activity, nearly $2 billion in gross state product and nearly 26,000 jobs.


      The Pew Hispanic Center estimated in 2008 that more than 1 in 3 Hispanic/Latino families are
      According to a 2004 University of Tennessee College of Law published paper, Tennessee is the
       6th fastest growing foreign-born population and the 4th fastest growing Latino population.
      Tennessee’s recently signed bill that mandates local jailers to verify the immigration status of
       everyone detained – despite lack of funding, training, or oversight – makes our communities less
       safe, as crimes in immigrant communities go unreported for fear of deportation.
      The last 5 corporations to move into Tennessee were international companies.

                                 Clergy for Tolerance | www.clergyfortolerance.org
          Welcoming the Stranger:
A Toolkit on Immigration for People of Faith

     Clergy for Tolerance | www.clergyfortolerance.org
                        Welcoming the Stranger:
              A Toolkit on Immigration for People of Faith

Appendix A:

                   Clergy for Tolerance | www.clergyfortolerance.org
          Welcoming the Stranger:
A Toolkit on Immigration for People of Faith

     Clergy for Tolerance | www.clergyfortolerance.org

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