Christian Leaders Speak Out and Stand up for Immigrants in the South
As we’ve blogged before, the religious reaction to stringent anti-immigrant laws in states like Alabama and Georgia has been gratifying to see.
Last week, over 150 United Methodists gathered for an educational event to learn more about their state’s controversial immigration law, which would criminalize basic church practices like offering a ride to a fellow churchgoer or providing housing for a family in need. Over the weekend, people of faith rallied in Huntsville to challenge the law. As one organizer, Rev. Al Garrett said, “It goes against those things that those of us who have confessed Christ believe is how we treat our neighbors.”
And Jay Reeves of the Associated Press has a terrific story on the resonances between the civil rights movement of the 1950s and 1960s and the struggle for justice for immigrants, particularly in the South, today:
During the civil rights movement of the 1950s and ’60s, many state churches didn’t join the fight to end Jim Crow laws and racial segregation….
Now that Alabama has passed what’s widely considered the nation’s most restrictive state law against illegal immigration, mainstream churches, faith-based organizations and individual members are at the forefront of opposition to the act. Some see their involvement as a way to avoid repeating mistakes of the past.
In Bible Belt states, mainstream religious opposition can’t help but be noticed:
“It’s huge to have the faith community come together and speak out in such great numbers against this new law,” said Isabel Rubio, executive director of the Hispanic Interest Coalition of Alabama. “Because we’re in the middle of the Bible Belt, we certainly expect that the faith communities’ influence … will land on folks’ ears who are willing to listen.”
The broad-based opposition to these anti-immigrant laws extends beyond Alabama; in Georgia last weekend, over 8,000 people held a rally to speak out against the restrictive anti-immigrant law there with seven DREAM Act students participating in a non-violent sit-in:
It’s becoming increasingly clear that Americans are growing tired of enforcement-only measures with problematic repercussions for civil liberties, community safety, and human dignity. What remains to be seen is whether Members of Congress will start listening and heed both the moral and the pragmatic call to pass sensible, comprehensive immigration reform.
UPDATE: Added video of the Georgia DREAM rally.