Immigration to the U.S.

U.S. policy has focused on enforcement, rather than addressing root causes. It is time to focus on holistic reform.

Signs in support of immigration reform

From the earliest days, humans have been migrants. There is no one universal reason for migration, but the movement from one place to another is often fueled by the promise of a better future in the new location.

Immigrants to the United States are often fleeing war, economic scarcity, persecution, the effects of globalization, and many other causes.

We recognize, embrace, and affirm all persons, regardless of country of origin, as members of the family of God.

United Methodist Social Principles, ¶162.H

Roughly 11 million undocumented people live in the United States. They pay US$12 billion in payroll taxes annually, according to the Social Security Administration. That doesn’t count how much they pay in other taxes, like property and sales taxes.

Meanwhile, the United States spent more than US$18 billion on immigration enforcement in 2012 alone.

Unauthorized immigration to the U.S. is part of a larger global migration crisis. The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees has estimated that 65.3 million people were displaced from their homes by conflict and persecution in 2015.

U.S. policy has focused on enforcement, rather than addressing root causes. It is time to focus on holistic reform. We affirm that God’s love knows no human boundary. Let us put our faith into action.

What the Bible and The United Methodist Church Say:

Throughout the Bible, God’s people are called to love migrants. From Genesis to Revelation, we see that God desires that we help the most vulnerable in our midst, especially the sojourner. Leviticus issues a call to love the sojourners in our midst, treating them as if they were one of our citizens. (Leviticus 19:33-34) Hebrews tells us that in opening our homes to guests, we may be “entertaining angels without knowing it.” (Hebrews 13:2)

Jesus himself was a sojourner. Jesus’ begins his earthly life fleeing to Africa as a refugee in Egypt. (Matthew 2:13-18) Jesus says that to welcome the sojourner is to welcome him. (Matthew 26:35)

The United Methodist Church states that “at the center of Christian faithfulness to Scripture is the call we have been given to love and welcome the sojourner. We call upon all United Methodist churches to welcome newly arriving migrants in their communities, to love them as we do ourselves, to treat them as one of our native-born, to see in them the presence of the incarnated Jesus, and to show hospitality to the migrants in our midst, believing that through their presence we are receiving the good news of the gospel of Jesus Christ.” (Book of Resolutions, 3281)

“We call upon all United Methodist churches to engage in the following:

  • advocate for legislation that will uphold the civil and human rights of all migrants in the United States and will provide an opportunity to attain legal status for all undocumented migrants currently in the United States, as well as for those arriving in the future;
  • begin English as a Second Language classes as part of a ministry to migrant communities and advocate for federal and state support of expanded ESL classes;
  • denounce and oppose the rise of xenophobic, racist, and violent reactions against migrants in the United States, and support all efforts to build relationships among people, instead of building walls among diverse ethnicities and cultures;
  • welcome newly arriving immigrants into our congregations;
  • oppose the building of a wall between the United States and Mexico, which the communities of both sides of the border are in opposition to;
  • call the United States government to immediately cease all arrests, detainment, and deportations of undocumented immigrants, including children, solely based upon their immigration status until a fair and comprehensive immigration reform is passed;
  • provide wherever possible pastoral care and crisis intervention to refugees and newly arrived migrants, identifying and responding compassionately to their spiritual, material, and legal needs;
  • work with civic and legal organizations to support migrant communities affected by harsh immigration laws and over-reaching national security measures;
  • support those churches that prayerfully choose to offer sanctuary to undocumented migrants facing deportation.” (Book of Resolutions, 3281)

What You Can Do:

  • Celebrate Migrants Sunday in your church on the first Sunday of Advent. Learn more here.
  • Join the Rapid Response Team. The RRT is a network of over 300 United Methodists across the US who are working for immigrant and refugee justice. The RRT receives action alerts, policy analysis, resources for immigrant and refugee communities, and more from advocacy and organizing staff at Church and Society. The RRT also connects United Methodists doing this work to each other to network, support immigrant and refugee communities, advocate against unjust immigration policies and practices, and lift up one another in prayer, resourcing, and work throughout the connection. To join the RRT, please email Rebecca Cole.
  • Build relationships locally between immigrants and nonimmigrants. Have your church become an Immigrant Welcoming Community.
  • Connect with your local Sanctuary Movement.
  • Support your local Justice for Our Neighbors, a United Methodist immigration legal aid organization. If there’s not one in your area, start one!

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