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Immigration and the Church

Migrant body found in desert

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On May 12, a Tucson physician and her son found the body of a young male in the Santa Cruz riverbed near Tubac, about a half mile east of the Border Patrol checkpoint on Interstate 19, according to a news release from the Tucson Samaritans and Green Valley Samaritans.

They called in the discovery to the Santa Cruz County sheriff’s office, which responded immediately and removed the body.

Founded 10 years ago, the Samaritans are people who provide food, water and medical aid to migrants in the Tucson sector of the borderlands and work to humanize border policy, according to the release.

Read more by clicking here to access the news release.

Salt Lake Tribune story on Utah's Stephen Sandstrom evolving compassion

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Former Rep. Stephen Sandstrom authored an immigration enforcement bill for Utah in 2010 much like Arizona's. But now The Salt Lake Tribune reports:


The changing heart of Stephen Sandstrom hinged on meeting a teenager named Sara.

 

It was the summer of 2011 and the Orem Republican lawmaker had just finished a panel discussion on illegal immigration at a West Valley City school auditorium, where he was defending a hard-line approach.

Sandstrom, who tended to stay late after public events to meet with people one on one, was approached afterward by a 19-year-old with long, dark hair. She began to tell him her story. He later said he couldn’t stop thinking about her.

 

Read more of the story here.

Volunteer deportation act leads to jail

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Kalsum Pangkey, a 56-year-old undocumented immigrant from Indonesia, went to an Immigration and Customs Enforcement office on April 25 to report that she was ready to leave the U.S. and pay her way back to her country.

The authorities locked her in detention, where she remains. She had gone to the ICE office to say she would voluntarily depart and asked for a stay of deportation for a few months to arrange for the move.

Read more

National conference calls for immigration policy change

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RIO RICO, Ariz. -- What should we do with the 9-year-old boy who slipped across the U.S.-Mexico border on April 12, desperate to find his mother, who came here earlier from their home in El Salvador to find work in hopes of bringing the family to a new life in the United States? Attempts to reconnect him to his mother could expose her to deportation.

Rise in enforcement laws turn all attention to Supreme Court

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On April 25, the U.S. Supreme Court is scheduled to look at Arizona's 2010 immigration law, which created a strict enforcement of immigration papers by the state and spawned similar legislation in five other states. The courts' decision, expected to come in June, will affect both immigrants dodging hostile behavior caused by strict enforcement laws as well as other states battling to keep their immigration enforcement legislation.

When did immigrants become the enemy?

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Commentary

SAN FRANCISCO -- Recently, in front a packed crowd at Duke University, former Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice regretted the failure of passing the comprehensive immigration reform act and the shift in Americans' attitude toward immigrants.

Accepting and welcoming immigrants "has been at the core of our strength," she said. "I don't know when immigrants became the enemy."

These days it is refreshing, if rare, to hear someone of Rice's stature to speak on behalf of immigrants. Over the last few years the public discourse has been shrill and, if anything, media coverage seems to stoke anxiety to an unprecedented level.

Instead of a larger narrative on immigration -- from culture to economics, from identity to history -- what we have now is a public mindset of us versus them, and an overall anti immigrant climate that is both troubling and morally reprehensible.

America's difficult love story

Yet I often see the story of immigration in America as a kind of difficult love story.

Obama administration tearing up immigrant families at record pace

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Speaking at a Celebration/NCR sponsored Immigration conference earlier this month, John Fife, a human rights activist and retired Presbyterian minister who lives in Tucson, Arizona and was a member of the Sanctuary Movement and a co-founder of the immigrant rights group No More Deaths, called the Obama administration's immigration policies brutal and the worst of any in modern history. His attack caught a number of conference attendees by surprise, but a column in today's New York Times lends evidence to the accusation.

Immigrants, detention centers, and deportations

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If you are interested in U.S. immigration issues in the South, here are two recent stories in Georgia from The Nation and The Atlanta Journal-Constitution discussing detention centers and deportations.

The Nation reports the story "How One Georgia Town Gambled Its Future on Immigration Detention ":

 

Deportations have reached record levels under President Barack Obama, and demand for detention facilities has increased. Starting in 2002, ICE had funding for 19,444 beds per year, according to an ICE report. Today, ICE spends about $2 billion per year on almost twice the number of beds.

 

Cardinal: Welcome immigrants based on Gospel mandate

ANAHEIM, Calif. -- In a wide-ranging presentation Saturday at the Los Angeles Religious Education Congress, Cardinal Roger M. Mahony said one has to go no further than the 25th chapter of Matthew to find this sacred mandate: "For I was a stranger and you welcomed me."

"All of us as disciples of the Lord are really called by Jesus to look at the strangers in our midst as looking at the face of Jesus," said the retired archbishop of Los Angeles in his talk titled "Surprise: We All Employ Undocumented Workers."

Since retiring last year as archbishop of Los Angeles, Mahony has devoted himself to advancing the cause of comprehensive immigration reform in the nation. Specifically, he has headed an effort to organize Catholic college students, as well as college presidents, around the biblical and moral principles that are the foundation for the church's ongoing support for immigration reform.

The cardinal said Adam and Eve were actually the first migrants in recorded history, noting also that Moses led his imprisoned Jewish people out of Egypt to the Promised Land and Mary and Joseph fled to Egypt to protect the life of their newborn son.

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November 21-December 5, 2014

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