Directors of Mission Agency Step Up Advocacy
Of Just Immigration Laws in the US and Elsewhere
NEW YORK, NY, Oct. 20, 2006—The directors of The United Methodist Church’s mission agency are urging church members to take up the case of just migration laws worldwide, including federal and state immigration measures in the United States.
At a meeting in Stamford, CT, in mid-October, the policy makers for the General Board of Global Ministries, who come from all parts of the international church, underscored an April 2006 resolution addressed to the US Congress. It urged lawmakers to refrain from passing laws that would divide families and “make felons out of millions of workers now in the US who are without green cards or visas.”
The some 90 directors went further in October, expressing concern for just migration in other parts of the world and expanding its concern in the US to state laws. They opposed the building of walls along the US-Mexican border.
With regard to federal laws, the new action instructed the Global Ministries’ staff to convey the board’s sentiments to President George Bush, Vice President Richard Cheney, the US State Department, and Senate and House leaders.
“The United Methodist Church has a long history of being in ministry with immigrants and supporting just immigration policies,” said the mission board directors.
Immigration law reform is stalled in the US Senate, where a variety of measures are competing. One would endorse a House of Representatives bill that would rigorously enforce strict laws already on the books but rarely applied in the past. Others would look more comprehensively at immigration law and its impact upon families and the economy. The United Methodist mission agency has endorsed none of the bills.
The only measure that has so far cleared Congress is a proposal to construct a wall along part of the US-Mexico border. The Global Ministries’ directors specifically opposed “further walls and other obstacles on the border that endanger lives of immigrants.”
The directors cited with approval a resolution of the Methodist bishops of
Mexico calling on their country’s government to respect the rights of migrants from other Latin American countries passing through Mexico.
The directors also:
The United Methodist Church supports several programs that aid and support undocumented workers and advocates for just immigration policies. One such program is Justice for Our Neighbors (JFON), related to the United Methodist Committee on Relief, the humanitarian service unit of the mission agency. JFON provides legal clinics for immigrants needing such services.
The directors’ resolution of last April opposed congressional proposals that might criminalize the efforts of churches and social service agencies to “help people in need, regardless of their citizenship status."
Directors of the board’s Women’s Division, meeting in early October, decided that the division would join the National Network for Immigrant and Refugee Rights which supports local, national, and international organizing and advocacy work. A special program emphasis on immigration was approved last spring.
Other United Methodist agencies or groups actively supporting just immigration policies include the Council of Bishops, the General Board of Church and Society, and the Commission on Religion and Race.
The Global Ministries’ directors encouraged a unified United Methodist approach to immigration issues.
Additional information on the church and immigration can be found online at http://new.gbgm-umc.org/work/immigrationrefugees.
Date posted: Oct 20, 2006