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Mexican Methodists Challenge Arizona Immigration Law

by Elliott Wright

Dios concedeme la serenidad para acpetar las cosas que no puedo cambia, valor para camibiar aquellas que puedo y savid uria para reconoser la difernica a gase su vuluntad y no la mia.
This Spanish translation of the Serenity Prayer was written on a section of the US/Mexico border fence.
Image by: Barbara Backyard/flickr

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:

We also invite Americans themselves, especially those of Arizona, to join together against this law through concrete actions, expressing to their representatives their desire to repeal this law and propose a new law, according to justice and the rights of migrants. Keep in mind that implementing SB 1070 would cause many families to be torn apart and lose the remittances that sustain many families in our nation, and the Arizona economy would suffer.

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:

Portable Document Format Spanish (PDF, 3 pp., 177 KB)

Portable Document Format English (PDF, 3 pp., 23 KB)



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Date posted: Jul 22, 2010