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United Methodists are leading the call to reform immigration

 

Kathy Gilbert

While The United Methodist Church is holding its worldwide assembly in Tampa, Fla., United Methodists in other parts of the country are holding prayer vigils and opening their church doors as safe havens while the U.S. Supreme Court considers Arizona’s immigration law that allows local police to check whether people they stop for any reason are in the country legally.

United Methodists are leading the call for immigration reform, said Bill Mefford, director in the United Methodist Board of Church and Society.

“I believe United Methodists have raised this issue more than any other faith group,” he said.  He points out there is not a single petition coming before the denomination’s legislative assembly to change the church’s stance on immigration.

“United Methodists are opening their doors just to allow an open time of prayer while arguments are being heard,” he said.  A small group gathered in a small room in the Westin Hotel April 25 “to pray for wisdom, pray for true justice to be handed down and mainly prayer for the protection of immigrants.”

On April 24, the day before the U.S. Supreme Court began hearing oral arguments on the constitutionality of Arizona’s first in the nation immigration law, 15 faith leaders sent a letter to President Obama and all members of Congress to address immigration reform.

Bishop Minerva Carcaño, chair of the United Methodist task force on immigration, was among the signers of the letter. The letter emphasizes the unity among interfaith groups to stop “the patchwork of laws” causing family separation, economic disruption and divided communities across the United States.

The United Methodist Book of Discipline states: “We recognize, embrace, and affirm all persons, regardless of country of origin, as members of the family of God. We affirm the right of all persons to equal opportunities for employment, access to housing, health care, education, and freedom from social discrimination. We urge the Church and society to recognize the gifts, contributions, and struggles of those who are immigrants and to advocate for justice for all. (¶ 162 H)