|Commentary: Stop the cruelty of immigration raids|
Children demonstrate for comprehensive U.S. immigration reform during
a 2006 rally in Washington. A UMNS file photo by Rick Reinhard.
A UMNS Commentary
By the Rev. Eliezér Valentín-Castañón*
Oct. 13, 2008
When news about the recent immigration enforcement raid in
Greenville, South Carolina, came across my desk, I knew The United
Methodist Church could not remain silent. Not only were innocent,
hard-working people detained in this raid, but a number are members of
one of our United Methodist missions in Greenville.
We join our voices with the thousands of people and organizations who
have expressed dismay and disbelief that these cruel raids—wreaking
havoc and terror also in Iowa, Mississippi and other states—would be
perpetrated on hapless workers and their families, both documented and
undocumented, who merely seek to earn a decent living.
The Rev. Eliezér
Certainly the actions of the Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency
are within their purview. However, the attacks on this defenseless
population are attacks on members of our communities who are
contributing to society in ways many American don’t appreciate. It is
reprehensible and immoral.
Both the immigrant families and the communities where they work and
reside will suffer severe consequences in the long term from these
raids, demonstrating a loss of our values and sensibility. When our
government’s actions make innocent children parentless and homeless,
when relatives young and old suddenly must wrestle with fear, confusion
and despair, we cannot be silent and apathetic.
If our family and community values are to hold true, our government must
stop these raids that are only creating desperation across the United
States. We must speak out and organize against these senseless, abusive,
It is time for the United States to live up to its creed, embodying the
self-evident truth that all men and women are created equal and endowed
by their creator with certain "inalienable rights," among them "life,
liberty and the pursuit of happiness." Undocumented immigrants are human
beings, too. They feel pain and suffer like the rest of us. It is time
for us to affirm their humanity and dignity in the way we treat them.
“When our government’s actions make
innocent children parentless and homeless, when relatives young and old
suddenly must wrestle with fear, confusion and despair, we cannot be
silent and apathetic.”
At the 2008 United Methodist General Conference, the only body that
speaks in behalf of the entire denomination, our church condemned these
raids and affirmed "the worth, dignity and inherent value and rights of
every person regardless of their nationality or legal status." Our
church called for the U.S. 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 bill is passed." (Petition #80637: Welcoming the Migrant to the U.S.)
We must pray and insist that this madness stops before we inflict more
tragic harm to our brothers and sisters who, like us all, are made in
the image of a loving God.
*Valentín-Castañón is associate general secretary, United Methodist Commission on Religion and Race.
News media contact: Kathy L. Gilbert, Nashville, Tenn., (615) 742-5470 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Immigration Raid Response
Churches help families left behind after raids
Church supports justice for migrants
United Methodists stand with arrested workers
From Raids to Deportation: A Community Resource Kit
Justice for Our Neighbors
The United Methodist Book of Resolutions
Commission on Religion and Race