(Photo credit: United Methodist Church)
By Aaron Gaglia (@GagliaAC)
Last Sunday, February 10th, United Methodism’s Claremont School of Theology and Claremont Lincoln University held an Immigration Vigil in Kresge Chapel. This event was held to highlight the importance that new federal immigration legislation includes family unification. United Methodist Bishop Minerva Carcaño of the California-Pacific Annual Conference, an outspoken proponent of legalizing illegal immigrants, gave the meditation at this vigil.
Carcaño began by stating her motivation for the issue:
“Certainly the fact that I am the daughter of immigrants informs my perspective on this issue of immigration and the need for comprehensive immigration reform, but truly I stand before you because I’m a Christian and Christian faith calls us to stand with the sojourner.”
Addressing the audience, Carcaño then expressed hope for reform:
“You bring me hope, hope that we can indeed continue to advocate for comprehensive immigration reform in a manner that reunites families. For families are the ones most affected by the brokenness of our immigration policies.”
Carcaño then talked about how she represented the UMC at Obama’s unveiling of his immigration plan. She was disappointed over Obama’s plan because it was “what we’ve been hearing all along,” saying:
“And then when he spoke about a pathway to citizenship, he immediately qualified it by saying, but of course immigrants will have to go to the back of the line. And you and I know that there is no line, there’s just a massive humanity in a broken system without hope, without any possibility of ever getting to that place of being documented and coming out from under the shadows.”
Carcaño spent most of her time telling anecdotes of immigrants whose lives were turned inside out due to America’s immigration policies. She alluded to racial profiling in the search for undocumented workers and expressed her disdain for Arizona Senate Bill 1070, which tightened Arizona’s immigration laws.
The bishop mentioned how many immigrant families live in fear and how this should not be: “We need comprehensive immigration reform for the sake and the dignity of our brothers and our sisters.” She also mentioned the incorrectness of calling undocumented immigrants criminals, pointing out that it is not a crime, but a civil violation.
Carcaño went on to make a parallel between the immigration issue and Jesus’ words before he healed the blind man in John 9:1-3: “As he passed by, he saw a man blind from birth. And his disciples asked him, ‘Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?’ Jesus answered, ‘It was not that this man sinned, or his parents, but that the works of God might be displayed in him’ (John 9:1-3, ESV).”
The bishop then gave two more stories showing mighty works of God (alluding to the above Scripture) displayed through the plights of immigrants. The last story ended with an immigrant with a hurt foot and two children who were deported back to Mexico, sharing the little money Carcaño and another gave to him with other individuals who were deported.
Carcaño described this as “truly the sight and the sound of the reign of God. It was that moment of observing the great mighty works of God and God’s Spirit.” She then ended with this exhortation: “This is the moment, my brothers and sisters, to be the people of God. I pray that we might observe the mighty works of God among us.”
The full meditation can be found here.
This speech brings to the table an issue that we need to deal with: How can we lessen the amount of illegal immigration while not tearing apart families with undocumented parents? Though I have my reservations with Carcaño’s speech, she is right in that we need to care about the fate of families. How can we who are of a more conservative persuasion deal with this issue?
Share your thoughts below!
Please keep comments civil and constructive.