3:00 P.M. EST Mar. 16, 2010
Supporters of immigration reform march in Austin, Texas, in February. A
UMNS photo by Louie Gilot.
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DALLAS (UMNS) — More than 500 United Methodist Texans plan to join in a
national march for immigration reform in the nation’s capital March 21.
An estimated 12-million undocumented people live in the United States,
and Texas has the second-largest population of immigrants in the
In coordination with the annual Ecumenical Advocacy Days, tens of thousands of
people will gather for the “March for America: Change Takes Courage & Faith.”
The march is to urge President Obama and Congress to tackle
comprehensive immigration reform this year.
“Achieving comprehensive immigration reform will require the unified
voice of all the many ethnicities and races that make up The United
Methodist Church in Texas,” said Lori Stafford, co-founder of Welcoming
Immigrants Network. An active member of United Methodist Women, Stafford
will attend the march.
“Together, we must do all we can to make sure that the people living and
working in our state and nation are well-educated, safe from abuse and
contributing fully to their new country,” Stafford said.
Our faith compels us to speak out on behalf of those who are vulnerable,
said Bill Mefford, executive, United Methodist Board of Church and
Society, and an organizer of the march.
“As United Methodists, and most important, as followers of Jesus, we are
called to welcome the sojourner among us,” said Mefford, a Texas
native. “I know churches throughout Texas are engaging in the ministry
of hospitality to those who are so often neglected or exploited by the
current broken immigration system. The March for America will present an
opportunity for Texans to powerfully demonstrate to Congress that the
status quo is not acceptable.”
Families are often forced to live apart, said Mary Beth Garcia, an
attorney for the Dallas-Fort Worth Justice for Our Neighbors, an
organization of the United Methodist Committee on Relief that provides
free legal service to immigrants.
The March for America March 21, will urge President Obama and Congress
to tackle comprehensive immigration reform this year. A UMNS photo
courtesy of The March for America
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In one family she is working to help, the husband is a U.S. citizen, and
his wife and two older children are undocumented. The couple’s two
youngest children were born in the United States and are citizens. The
husband filed a petition to get legal status for his wife and two oldest
Because the wife and two children had entered the United States without
visas, they were not allowed to stay and had to return to Mexico to
apply for visas.
“During this time, the parents decided to split the children up between
them because they wanted the two oldest children to continue their
education they had started in the United States,” Garcia explained. “The
two youngest children are staying with their mother in Mexico.”
This is causing tremendous strain on the family, Garcia said. “The
children are too young to really understand what is going on. All they
know is that they are not living together as a family.”
Stafford said cases like this point to the critical need for immigration
reform. “If we fail them, we fail ourselves and our Lord.”
*McMullan is the refugee and immigration coordinator for the United
Methodist North Texas Annual (regional) Conference. The United Methodist
Board of Church and Society published this article in their newsletter,
Faith in Action.
News media contact: Kathy L. Gilbert, Nashville, Tenn., (615) 742-5470