Why we care
What restoration might look like
How we work toward restoration
The US immigration system is illogical, ineffective, and inhumane. It is based on a system that was created over 50 years ago, and has not been adapted to meet today’s employment or security needs. It separates families for decades or forever, condones human trafficking and an underground labor market, keeps families living in poverty and in secret, and prevents churches from providing meaningful assistance.
The Canadian system denies families the ability to stay together, creates an underclass of low-paid workers, and refuses to allow deserving refugees a safe place to live. Genuine refugees who are making their claim are called “bogus” and denied health care if they come from the “wrong” country. After not being granted refugee status immigrants are forced to either appeal—which is limited to procedural review only—or retreat to the shadows and reside in the complications of an undocumented life.
Immigration is a lightning rod issue where misinformation sometimes has greater power than the facts. Because the issue is politically charged government is more prone to allow dysfunction than it is to pass reforms that make systems work; citizens are prone to inaction because they are not sure who to believe. Immigrants then receive blame for the brokenness when they deserve justice. Here is where the church sees its own brokenness as well--we have spent little time listening to the stories of immigrants and discerning the many Biblical passages that call us to love the stranger.
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Why we care
Immigrants are important members of our communities, our families, and our churches. Most immigrants are Christians, making them brothers and sisters in Christ. But most of all, we care about immigrants because God cares, and God commands his followers to do the same.
“For the Lord your God is God of gods…who executes justice for the orphan and the widow, and who loves the strangers, providing them food and clothing. You shall also love the stranger, for you were strangers in Egypt.”
Deuteronomy 10: 17-18
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What restoration might look like
In the US, we are advocating, as partners with the Evangelical Immigration Table, for a bipartisan solution on immigration that:
- Respects the God-given dignity of every person
- Protects the unity of the immediate family
- Respects the rule of law
- Guarantees secure national borders
- Ensures fairness to taxpayers
- Establishes a path toward legal status and/or citizenship for those who qualify and who wish to become permanent residents
Beyond the policy principles, we long for a day when churches and communities exhibit a fuller embrace of our call to welcome the stranger.
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How we work toward restoration
You can join what God is doing through the church to support the passage of humane immigration reform in 2014. We have a church curriculum, feature film, book suggestions, worship resources, and advocacy guidelines.
Refugee Sunday Resources for Canadian Churches: Looking for a litany or a video for the offering about refugee sponsorship in Canada? Try out these resources from World Renew.
Refugees in the Worship Service by Katie Karsten of Diaconal Ministries Canada: A collection of resources, from workshops to get your congregation thinking about refugee justice to film suggestions and discussion questions.
Prayer for the Stranger in our Midst Litany: this litany is a call and response written for congregations across the United States who have a heart for Immigration Reform. Not only does this litany include prayers for political figures who ultimately make decisions, but also prayers for the church to better welcome the stranger and prayers for the immigrants in our midst.
I Was a Stranger Challenge: Read 40 passages of Scripture for 40 days that address in some way God's concern for immigrants and foreigners. Pray over your reading each day, and allow the Spirit to illuminate your heart.
Welcoming the Stranger: In this book Matthew Soerens and Jenny Hwang move beyond the rhetoric to offer a Christian response to immigration. They put a human face on the issue and tell stories of immigrants' experiences in and out of the system. With careful historical understanding and thoughtful policy analysis, they debunk myths and show the limitations of the current immigration system. Ultimately they point toward immigration reform that is compassionate, sensible and just, as they offer concrete ways to welcome and minister to your immigrant neighbors.
Story of the CRC impact on passing immigration reform: Since 2010, and even before, the CRC has been deeply involved with immigration reform. In 2010, Synod gave the Office of Social Justice and the Office of Race Relations a mandate to advocate for immigration reform and to do anything necessary to welcome the stranger. This is the story of what the CRC has done, and how a small denomination had a national impact on the movement towards reform.
In an issue that has become politically polarized, it’s essential for Christians to engage in thoughtful study and discussion of the economic, political, social, and spiritual issues involved in the church’s ministry with immigrant people. This can include the study of the 2010 Synodical Migration Report.
Refugee Justice workshop (coming soon for Canada!): This interactive 90-120 minute exercise will help your church to walk a mile in your refugee neighbor’s shoes.
Church Between Borders: This workshop builds community in congregations. It also takes groups through the often untraced theme of immigration in the Bible, looks at the history and roots of immigration laws in the U.S., discusses the current need for reform, and sends participants out with tangible tools to advocate for change.
The Stranger is a 45-minute documentary film commissioned by the Evangelical Immigration Table and produced by Emmy-award winning producer Linda Midgett. The Stranger profiles three immigrant stories and includes interviews with local and national Christian leaders. Contact Kate Kooyman if you are interested in showing this movie and discussing it with friends.
Give the Facts a Fighting Chance: Answers to the Toughest Immigration Questions The Immigration Policy Center exists to enhance immigration conversations and policy with balanced facts. Want to know the annual quota for skilled worker visas in the U.S.? This is their most comprehensive resource about how the U.S. immigration system works and doesn’t work.
Why Don’t Immigrants Just Come the Legal Way? This article explains the current legal channels immigrants must go through, why those channels don’t work, and how those channels came to be in the first place. It also addresses the misunderstanding of many Americans in assuming there is an accessible, easy, and legal way to come to the US.
What Part of “Illegal” Don’t You Understand? This article focuses on the scriptural view of immigration, including addressing the issue of obeying the government, obeying scripture, and showing compassion to immigrants. Some people may wonder if it is morally right to help those who are here “illegally.” Others may wonder if those who are here “illegally” should be allowed to worship in our churches. This article addresses those concerns.
You can join your voice as an advocate by signing up for our immigration newsletter, which will give updates about ways to engage in current immigration advocacy actions. We call on our elected officials to reform immigration laws in the United States and Canada so that they may be fair, just, and equitable.
Free Lulu: Lulu and her family have lived in sanctuary in a Toronto church since 2011. Because of a broken refugee system and a crooked lawyer, Lulu’s parents were refused refugee status in Canada, though they are high profile human rights activists in their home country of Hungary and their lives were in danger there.
Canadian Council for Refugees: Interested in advocating for family reunification? Refugee healthcare? Find resources and information for advocacy here. World Renew is a member organization of the Canadian Council for Refugees.
Call Speaker Boehner and tell him immigration reform needs to happen this year. It is urgent and our families can't wait any longer.
Send an email to your representative telling him/her that you are praying for reform that will keep families together and promotes dignity for all people.
Write a letter to the editor of your local newspaper—we've made it easy! Just click here, enter your zip code, and personalize our sample letter.
Set up a meeting with your Representative's district office! Our immigration advocacy toolkit has everything you need to set up and conduct an effective meeting. Contact our office at firstname.lastname@example.org and we can help you get one set up.
Send a card to the almost 700 undocumented mothers and children who have been detained at the Artesia Family Residential Center in New Mexico.
If you have not already, sign up for our action alerts to learn when and how to take action.
We're ready to walk with you on immigration and refugee issues. Contact us to get started!
Viviana Cornejo: Viviana works with the Office of Race Relations. She coordinates the Church Between Borders workshop as part of a larger Office of Race Relations program called “Community Connect.” She is also working to create a network of pastors who will learn from each other about being a congregation that welcomes and supports recent immigrants.
Kate Kooyman: Kate is a CRC partner with the Evangelical Immigration Table. She organizes evangelical churches and leaders throughout West Michigan as a part of a National effort to move congress toward passing immigration reform. She is available to speak, meet with groups, and to help you advocate in a way that will truly make an impact.
Kris Van Engen: Kris works with World Renew and the Office of Social Justice. He coordinates the CRC’s immigration education and advocacy efforts in the U.S. He is available to speak or lead workshops in your church (including Church Between Borders), to let you know what other congregations have done, and he can connect you with local education and advocacy coalitions that are effective on a national level.
World Renew Refugee Sponsorship: In Canada your congregation can partner with World Renew to resettle refugees.
Bethany Christian Services Refugee Services: In the U.S. the OSJ partners with Bethany Christian Services for refugee resettlement. You can contact Bethany directly if your congregation or family is interested in this program.
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