Bishop calls for immigration reform
April 6, 2006
Bishop Minerva Carcaņo
By Kathy L. Gilbert**
United Methodist Bishop Minerva Carcaņo has asked Arizona lawmakers “to
bring undocumented immigrants out of the shadows” and begin treating
them fairly and justly in the variety of jobs they have assumed for
Carcaņo, bishop of the Arizona and Southern Nevada areas, made the
plea April 4. She was joined by Bishop Gerald Kicana of the Roman
Catholic Church in Tucson, Bishop Kirk Smith of the Episcopal Church in
Arizona and other religious leaders in making a statement that urged
state legislators “to lead us as one community in search of common
”There is no question that Arizona is at the epicenter of what is now
a national policy issue,” the statement said. “The negative rhetoric
used by some in our state that demonizes undocumented immigrants has
contributed to a polarized atmosphere both locally and nationally. This
is not an atmosphere for thoughtful policy making.”
Carcaņo has been asked by the United Methodist Council of Bishops to
represent the council on immigration issues in Washington and will be
joining other religious leaders at an April 10 march at the U.S.
Capitol. The march is expected to draw hundreds of thousands rallying
for immigration reform. Marches on that day will also be held in Miami,
Chicago, New York, Los Angeles, Milwaukee and San Antonio.
She is also working with Bishop Max Whitfield, episcopal leader of
the New Mexico and Northwest Texas annual conferences, to draw up a task
force to examine Resolution 118 in the denomination’s Book of Resolutions.
Bishop Max Whitfield
”Resolution 118 fundamentally states that we believe our present
immigration policies are not helpful and perhaps not even humane,” she
said. “It is clear that our country needs comprehensive immigration
She said reform would need to include several things.
”It is true we need to have safe and secure borders, but we also need
to look at a pathway for citizenship for those in this country who have
worked here for years.”
She notes there are 12 million undocumented workers in the United
States and moving them out of the country would be difficult, costly and
undermine not only the economy, but also “our way of life.”
”The other concern is that comprehensive immigration reform needs to
take into consideration good and fair and just conditions for immigrants
who are doing work, particularly agribusiness work,” she said. “Because
they live in the shadows of society people take advantage of immigrants
… We need to bring them out of the shadows.”
The issue of family reunification is important and must be held up before Congress, she said.
”There are too many immigrant families that are fragmented, some
living here and some living in other countries because we don’t have
good ways to keep families together.”
Carcaņo said in some states like Arizona, the issue of immigration is
becoming a political pawn being used for purposes of re-election or
toppling one party to replace another.
|A UMNS photo by Rick Reinhard
of thousands of immigrants and their supporters rallied on the west
side of the U. S. Capitol on March 7 in protest of impending immigration
When a concern like immigration – that affects so many families – is used for political reasons, “that is sinful,” she said.
Carcaņo said she would encourage United Methodists to examine what
state leaders are doing because some of the negative bills before
Congress are “seeping down into local conversations.”
”Biblically, theologically, I am concerned we have forgotten what
Scripture says about how we treat the immigrant,” she said. “I would
hold up Leviticus 19 where it says the sojourner among us is to be
treated as native born.”
Christ Jesus held the love of neighbor as second only to the love of
God, she said. “This is who we understand ourselves to be and we need to
*Gilbert is a United Methodist News Service news writer based in Nashville, Tenn.
News media contact: Kathy L. Gilbert, Nashville, Tenn., (615) 742-5470 or firstname.lastname@example.org.