As a follow-up to these past 40 devotions and 40 days of Lent, people from several different Boards, Agencies, and Committees of the North Carolina Conference of the United Methodist Church have come together to affirm our hopes for loving, seeing, serving, and living together with our immigrant neighbors. To this end, we have affirmed the following resolution, a final version of which we hope to bring together for the consideration of and the invitation to all members of the Annual Conference in June:
Seeing Our Immigrant Neighbors and the Forces Affecting Them
WHEREAS Jesus was an immigrant and an asylum seeker (Matthew 2:13-14) and whereas our Faith is built on the Old Testament values of welcoming the stranger (Deuteronomy 10:19), giving justice to the foreigners abiding with us (Leviticus 27:19), and remembering times when the insiders were in fact outsiders and migrants (1 Chronicles 16:19-22), with this same Faith challenging us in the New Testament to love our neighbors as ourselves (Luke 10:27), give hospitality to strangers (Romans 12:13; Hebrews 13:10), and prize connection in Christ over tribal divisions, and;
WHEREAS in the Book of Resolutions it clearly states (#3281 adopted 2008 and adapted and readopted in 2016)
“We 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; and 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;” and;
WHEREAS our Social Principles (¶ 163) states
“We urge the Church and society to recognize the gifts, contributions, and struggles of those who are immigrants and to advocate for justice for all. We oppose immigration policies that separate family members from each other or that include detention of families with children, and we call on local churches to be in ministry with immigrant families.”
WHEREAS we see destruction through the federal passage of anti-immigrant legislation including the Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s 278(g) program – in which local law enforcement can, with ICE’s help, kick-start deportation proceedings – and we further see that it has a hellish reputation for terrorizing local immigrant communities, in which the police of 287(g) counties are often accused of racially profiling and bullishly arresting Latinx residents to start the deportation process, and;
WHEREAS we see the harmful potential of anti-immigrant legislation that has been proposed this year, by our North Carolina representatives, including the proposal of HB-135 and HB-370, and we disagree with the potential consequences of this legislation further bifurcating our communities along cultural lines with immigrant communities, by singling out and “othering” the corporate members of these communities, and;
WHEREAS many of our United Methodist congregations see the results of harsh and demeaning legal processes – such as isolation, severe anxiety and depression, childhood trauma, polarization, rising poverty levels in immigrant communities, lack of adequate and fair legal representation, lack of spiritual and faith-based support from religious communities, and exclusion from educational programs – without knowing what to do, and;
WHEREAS we do not support the destruction of the United States of America’s border enforcement but wish to bring to light its destructive practices of placing non-violent, non-criminal asylum seekers in facilities that amount to cages and concentration camps, and in many cases separating children from their families (many of whom remain separated for traumatizing amounts of time), and;
WHEREAS we wish to be informed for ourselves about the facts and discussion of immigration in our State, more than be deformed by nationalistic rhetoric that polarizes people groups and mislabels immigrants by placing large swaths of disconnection around them, and;
WHEREAS we have many law-enforcement officers in our churches and communities who desire to connect with immigrant communities but have found it increasingly difficult because of the policies and postures of state and federal governments – stances which would criminalize peaceful and communicative endeavors like FaithAction IDs, and;
WHEREAS our congregations often want to reach out and connect to or support the immigrant communities but do not know how.
THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED that the North Carolina Annual Conference of The United Methodist Church calls on its members to be engaged in understanding the laws – both prohibitive and supportive – that govern the lives of their immigrant neighbors, by receiving news updates regarding immigration laws by subscribing to the mailing list of one/some of the following: NC Justice Center – www.ncjustice.org; NC Policy Watch www.ncpolicywatch.com; American Civil Liberties Union – ACLU.org (search “state and local immigration laws); or Alerta Migratoria, — www.facebook.com/AlertaMigratoria/ and by building consistent contact with state and federal representatives which can easily be done online (https://strongernc.org/get-started/who-are-my-representatives/ or https://www.ncleg.gov/RnR/Representation).
BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that we encourage all congregations who are aware of immigrant neighbors with whom they do not yet have a relationship to prayerfully encourage their existing nurture, outreach, and/or witness committees/work areas or otherwise active outreach teams and committees to subscribe to NCCUMC Refugee and Immigration Committee updates and the Immigration Ministry Task Force (ImmigrationTaskForce.Church) updates, to be aware of local and Conference-wide initiatives that can bolster their efforts to meet and support their immigrant neighbors.
For further study: