|Bishop thanks Obama for immigration reform focus|
Bishop Minerva Carcaño marches Feb. 28 in Phoenix with demonstrators to
protest crackdowns on illegal immigrants. A UMNS file photo by Kathy L.
A UMNS Report
By Linda Green*
April 15, 2009
A United Methodist bishop is applauding the White House for upcoming
conversations on comprehensive federal immigration reform, which could
affect some 12 million illegal immigrants in the United States.
President Barack Obama announced this week that his administration
would begin discussions on immigration reform later this year, and
published reports indicate that the administration would collaborate
with a bipartisan, diverse group of experts to help build the framework
“As United Methodists, we believe that immigration is a human rights
issue that needs serious attention,” said Phoenix Bishop Minerva
Carcaño in an April 13 statement thanking Obama for putting immigration
reform on his agenda for 2009. She indicates her readiness to assist
the president in immigration reform work because it “would truly serve
the common good.”
Carcaño, also the chairwoman of the United Methodist task force on
immigration, said the church stands “firmly in believing that the
inherent value of all immigrants means that all of their civil
liberties should be respected and maintained regardless of their legal
status. We believe, however, that our present immigration policies
violate these basic rights.”
White House objectives
The Obama administration wants to preserve the integrity of the
country’s borders and support additional personnel, infrastructure and
technology on the border and at ports of entry, according a White House
Web site. It wants to fix the immigration system by removing incentives
to enter the United States illegally, to bring people out of the
shadows and to work with Mexico to cut down on illegal immigration.
The administration says the number of undocumented immigrants in the
country has increased more than 40 percent since 2000, and annually
more than a half-million people enter the United States illegally or
overstay their visas. In addition, recent federal raids “only netted
3,600 arrests in 2006 and have placed all the burdens of a broken
system onto immigrant families,” according to the White House.
Bill Mefford, a staff member of the United Methodist Board of Church
and Society, said that while the president has not given any
particulars, “the fact that he is talking about it is extremely helpful
and very appreciated.”
The bishop’s points
Carcaño is encouraging the administration to embrace comprehensive immigration to:
- Provide a pathway to citizenship for immigrants.
immigrant families that have been separated by immigration itself or
due to workplace raids and detentions and deportations.
- Increase the number of visas for short-term workers to enter the United States to work in a safe, legal and orderly way.
legal protection to all workers who come to stay for a certain period
of time as well as for those who stay permanently, including the right
to bargain for higher wages, to protest against poor working
conditions, and to preserve their human rights as workers, be they
documented or undocumented.
- Eliminate privately operated detention centers, which are not regulated by the federal or state governments.
- End all indiscriminate raids.
“Bishop Carcaño’s statement is right on. That is exactly where we need to be,” Mefford said.
The suffering of immigrants because of raids, indefinite detention
and detention without federally regulated standards is a reason the
church stands in solidarity with them, he said. “The suffering that
immigrants have been going through has been immense. So as a church, it
is our responsibility, it is our calling, it is our mission, to stand
with our immigrant brothers and sisters and advocate for justice on
Carcaño’s outline is where immigration reform should focus, Mefford
added. “It’s an end to raids, a pathway to citizenship, it is s
protection of the rights of workers, it is the reunification of
families, and it is to be applied to all undocumented workers and not
*Green is a United Methodist News Service news writer based in Nashville, Tenn.
News media contact: Linda Green, (615) 742-5470 or email@example.com.
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