Mexican Methodists Challenge Arizona Immigration Law
by Elliott Wright
New York, NY, July 21, 2010--The Methodist Church of Mexico is deeply concerned about immigration policy in its own country and the United States, and it especially questions the soundness of the new Arizona law that criminalizes undocumented people in that state.
A far-reaching resolution on immigration was adopted by the church's General Conference, meeting in late May in Saltillo, Coahuila State. Copies of the document in both Spanish and English have now been distributed widely through United Methodist links in the United States and beyond.
The resolution states that fewer people would need to look for work in the US if Latin American countries, including Mexico, generated more well-paying jobs. It calls upon Mexican Methodists to do more to "struggle against discriminatory practices that are performed against migrants who come to Mexico."
Most of the resolution's focus is on Arizona Law SB 1070, a controversial measure that authorizes the state to enforce federal immigration statutes. The Arizona law is under legal challenge on several fronts, including a suit by the US Department of Justice, with the backing of the White House.
The Mexican church measure asks for the repeal of the law. It urges the US to enact immigrant reform that is "fair, humane, and comprehensive," repeating a request also made by the 2008 United Methodist General Conference. It points to the important role immigrants--documented and undocumented--play in US economics. The measure also took a look back at the history of Arizona and the positive role persons of Mexican descent have played there.
"Until about 200 years ago, Arizona was part of the territory of Mexico," the statement says. "The Mexicans who remained there after the annexation, and other Latin Americans who now work there, have helped to strengthen the economy."
The resolution says:
The small but highly organized Methodist Church of Mexico has taken a special interest throughout the years in the welfare of immigrants from other parts of Latin America and the Caribbean who come into the country. Many of these persons hope to cross into the US but find themselves trapped along the border, unable to enter the US and with no means of returning home.
Another concern expressed by the General Conference is the recent killing of two persons by US Border Patrols near the US-Mexico border: Anastasio Rojas Hernandez and a child of only fourteen, Sergio Adrián Hernández. The first, according to the resolution, occurred as a result of beatings and electric shock and the second by gunshot. The Methodists asked for thorough investigations of both incidents by US and Mexican authorities.
The Methodist Church of Mexico has some 80,000 members and 400 pastors. It traces its roots to mission work in the 1860s. It became autonomous in 1930, and has a presence in almost all of the 31 Mexican states and the Federal District. The church in Mexico has three universities, two theological seminaries, several schools and hospitals, and an extensive network of social ministries.
The general conference meets every four years. The 2010 session was the 21st.
The full text of the resolution is available in Spanish and English:
Spanish (PDF, 3 pp., 177 KB)
English (PDF, 3 pp., 23 KB)
Date posted: Jul 22, 2010