Undocumented in Moore: Why Evangelicals Want Immigration Reform

Isaías Vargas pastors Ciudad de Dios, a Latino evangelical church just a mile from Plaza Towers Elementary, the Oklahoma school that was flattened in last week’s devastating tornado...

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Charlie Riedel / AP

Residents cleaning up their their tornado-ravaged home take a break to share a prayer with a roving chaplain Thursday, May 23, 2013, in Moore, Okla.

Pastor Isaías Vargas leads a Latino evangelical church just a mile from Plaza Towers Elementary, the Oklahoma school that was flattened in last week’s devastating tornado. When the storm hit, Vargas immediately knew his church, Ciudad de Dios, would become a center point for Latino relief efforts. Soon he learned that nineteen Latino families in the church’s neighborhood suffered total or near total loss. But there was a catch: At least thirteen of the families were undocumented immigrants.

Thirteen families may not seem like much, but it is a lot for a small church of only 50 to 75 people, especially given the enormity of their need. The basic needs of these families are the same as their documented neighbors—water, food, transportation, clothes—but their resources are far more limited. You need a social security number to get FEMA assistance. Applications demand your address, contact numbers and insurance information. In other words, going to FEMA means telling the government you are in the country illegally, and that’s a risk many families are not willing to take.

Fortunately, the broader Latino evangelical community quickly stepped in to offer aid. Felix Cabrera, a pastor at nearby Iglesia Bautista de Quail Springs, Quail Springs Baptist Church, contacted Vargas within hours to offer his church’s help. Cabrera’s congregation is not much larger, but an affiliated non-hispanic church immediately jumped in as well, as did Capitol Hill Baptist Church. “It is a blessing when you see the Anglo church helping the Hispanic ministries,” says Cabrera. “They help us with more than we expected.”

The National Latino Evangelical Coalition also organized a substantial relief effort. NALEC president Gabriel Salguero learned the importance of a specific Latino church relief program after Superstorm Sandy, when the group raised $5 million and worked with FEMA officials to meet the specific needs of undocumented victims. When the tornado hit Moore last week, one of Salguero’s first calls was to Cabrera. Within hours a plan was in place: NALEC would send a team to train Cabrera and other local pastors in disaster relief. Volunteers came from New York, Orlando, and Laredo, Tex., and NALEC began offering technical and administrative support as well as material supplies. Their network of churches across the country provided a natural and speedy donor base. “In our Oklahoma disaster relief efforts we saw first hand how a lack of immigration reform can leave so many with little or no humane recourse,” Salguero says. “As a nation, we can and must do better.”

This story of these thirteen families is yet another reason why evangelical leaders across America continue to fight for immigration reform. Increasingly, immigrant families, documented and undocumented, are in their pews.

Today the Evangelical Immigration Table, a broad coalition of conservative and progressive evangelical leaders and organizations, launched a $250,000 national ad campaign to mobilize constituents for immigration reform. The campaign targets 13 key states, including Texas, Arizona, Florida, and Ohio. The group also is displaying “Pray for Reform” billboards near congressional offices in Florida, North and South Carolina, and Texas.

Salguero led the call with evangelical leaders including Stephan Bauman, president of World Relief, and Lynne Hybels, co-founder of Chicago’s Willow Creek Community Church. All argued that immigration reform is a moral issue that cannot be ignored. “Our broken system has been a moral stain for too long and the time is right for our country to have an immigration system that respects the God given dignity of every human,” Jim Wallis, president of Sojourners and coalition member group, tells TIME.

Their reasons are not just practical. They are theological. Embracing people in need—including the undocumented in America—is core to the gospel message of caring for one’s neighbor, they believe. “I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, naked and you clothed me,” Jesus said in the Gospel of Matthew. “To the extent that you did it to one of these brothers of mine, even the least of them, you did it to me.”

31 comments
MattTimeInc
MattTimeInc

If you compare us to Mexico, we definitely aren't obligated to do anything for illegal immigrants. In Mexico you will be deported if you are there illegally, they actively hunt down illegal immigrants, they don't care where you are from and you are dumped in Guatemala  there is not asylum, no amnesty and the reason people leave Mexico is because there is no social safety net so people immigrant North and send money back home (the second largest source of foreign income after oil). Or a nation like China, Asia now being the number one source of immigration to the US, if your a North Korean trying to escape, you will be sent back and face certain death.

We are not obligated to do anything. Illegal immigrants may have inherent rights but that isn't the same thing as citizenship. that being said, we need to normalize the situation. It sounds like amnesty and it probably is but the there is no way we can deport 11 million people, there is no stick that will compare to the death march across the Sonoran desert, and over half of all ag jobs are filled by illegal immigrants (and you can't not find a citizen to fill the seasonal, low pay hard labor). If we don't provide a pathway to citizenship, there will be a growing under/slave class.

BUT immigrants legal and illegal need to understand this. IMMIGRATION REQUIRES ASSIMILATION. Some people get this some people don't. Multiculturalism and traditions are fine, but you need to learn English and stop waving flags from the old country.  

TonyRiggs
TonyRiggs

"thirteen of the families were undocumented immigrants"

The undisputed truth:

1. Lets call a spade a spade; since they are alien to OK and undocumented, they instantly qualify as illegal aliens in these here United States.

2. If they weren't here illegally, they wouldn't have suffered this loss.


MuricanBob
MuricanBob

So much ignorance here. Lets just deport every sinle person who came here "illegally" including their families. Oh wait, now we're the "Americans" right? My brothers need to educate themselves.

lazarus00000
lazarus00000

The only aid the undocumented  ILLEGAL immigrants need is a quick bus ride back across the border.

lazarus

Big_Daddy
Big_Daddy

The Gang of 8, 4 who are Democrates and 4 who are RINO (Republican In Name Only) and now a cowering lapdog to Obama.

If you want true Immigration reform,
lets start with the following:

Immigration is a simple issue.

Break the "Chain",
drop the "Anchor".

The path to citizenship starts in their home country.

Go the Consolate of The United States of America and file an application for citizenship.

Immigration is a very simple issue to understand.

Those here illegally have NO loyality to The United States of America, our Flag, our Bill of Rights, our Constitution or our People.

We already have to many LEGAL citizens out of work in this country suffering, with NO hope insite, now they want to add 11,000,000 (11 million) more. Where are these peoples minds and good judgement?

My proposal would give all here illegally 2 months to self deport,
starting June 15th, 2013. After that date, if you are here illegally you get 5 years manditory prison in solitary confinement. Then after your time is serve, then deported with NO entry for life, if caught each time the minumum stay in prison will be double the previous sentence.

For example:
1st time = 5 years
2nd time = 10 years
3rd time = 20 years
4th time = 40 years

For those who do self deport,
if they have any school records showing that they have been here 5 years or longer,
can pass a background check and have NO criminal history. Then let those people file the appropriate paperwork, to come to this country and gain citizenship.

Other than that,
execute all illegals onsite as they are illegal foreign invaders and a possible terroristic threat. Have this done by Janet Napalitano and the Department of Homeland Security (they have the ammunition & training).

Again,
Those here illegally have NO loyality to The United States of America, our Flag, our Bill of Rights, our Constitution or our People.

FYI:
We have illegals here in the United States of America that are of every Nationality, Race, Religon, Color, Age, Sex and sexual preference.

So lets not have a "Pity Party" for the illegal mexicans.

If you agree,
repost to every article on Immigration and also send a copy to your Senator & Congressman in Washington DC.

Have your voice heard.

If you thumbs down or do not agree,
please reply with your reason.

FredHedrick
FredHedrick

It is not the Governments responsibility to provide for these people.  The example given here shows the Churches doing just what Churches have been known to do for years and years: take care of their Members.  It is no surprise that they would help their Christian Brothers and Sisters.  What DOES surprise me is while they pound the pulpit for immigration reform, they continue the class divide by the very nature of calling themselves a "latino" church and praising the "anglo" church for helping them, and acting surprised about it to boot.  If God makes no distinction between color or creed, why do they?  I also do not agree with giving amnesty to law breakers, regardles of their reasons.   Should we just give blanket amnesty to all whom are in our prison systems and give them a "do over"?  I don't think so. 

Jesus said in the Gospel of Matthew. “To the extent that you did it to one of these brothers of mine, even the least of them, you did it to me.”

Jesus also said: "Render unto Caesar what is Caesars, and render unto God what is Gods".   Yes, this was about paying taxes and doing the right thing.  Emphasis on the "right thing".  

Jesus also said: John, Chapter 10.."Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that entereth not by the door into the sheepfold, but climbeth up some other way, the same is a thief and a robber."

Tell them to come into our "sheepfold" by the door and stop "climbing up some other way" and we can see our way clear to stop equating them with "theives and robbers"...

voteemallout
voteemallout

"the reasons are not just practical" (.need to fill the churches with somebody and undocumenteds will do for mother church)

CharlesEdwardBrown
CharlesEdwardBrown

We tried Amnesty in 1986 and it did not work. We now have 11 million illegal aliens living in the United States. The Senate bill does nothing to solve the problem of illegal immigration and will encourage even more criminals to come to the United States. We need the Federal Government to start enforcing the law. Deport all illegal aliens, secure the border and make it impossible for an illegal alien to get or keep a job in the United States.

Doctorjaguar
Doctorjaguar

A study led by Harvard Medical School researchers finds that "immigrants have contributed billions of dollars more to Medicare in recent years than the program has paid out on their behalf...a pattern that goes against the notion that immigrants are a drain on federal health care spending." Unauthorized immigrants, however, aren't eligible for most government programs. 

God Bless America :) 

Doctorjaguar
Doctorjaguar

@t : DaveFrancis:  Relax ! Don't  make people to waste their precious time , calling every member of Congress ,this is just a temporary home (US) for the Immigrants;Also have you hear about:  "Individual Taxpayer Identification Number"

The IRS issues ITINs to individuals who are required to have a Taxpayer  Identification  Number ; but who do not have, and are not eligible to obtain, a  Social Security Number. (this mean immigrants PAY TAXES ! ,with or with out documents) 

To my Latino evangelical community : Estoy orgulloso de que se unan ! y oren por esta causa Dios los Bendiga y les comparto la siguiente,escritura: 

John 14:1-3 

"Do not let your hearts be troubled. Trust in God; trust also in me. In my Father's house are many rooms; if it were not so, I would have told you. I am going there to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be 

DaveFrancis
DaveFrancis

GOD HELP AMERICA if the Gang of Eight realizes it’s terrible dream, which will transform this country into a nightmare for taxpayers.Those in power now are determined to pass this rushed piece of trash known as Senate bill.477. Just repeating the over and over again, that the only beneficiaries of this piece of crappy legislation are the illegal aliens storming across the borders now, or flying into America impersonating tourists, the Democrats who recognize that if they give these uneducated dregs from the sewers of South American countries, will vote for them in the future in large numbers. Mainly because they know that we have to feed the, educate their offspring gaining quasi citizenship. That pregnant mother’s slip border to get free delivery and then carry on their procreate of extra babies so they can supplement the families income with free food stamps, welfare and cash EBT cards for every child under their roof.

Why is every honest taxpaying American forced by a law that is outdated, meant for slave descendants and not for the foreign national children? They are their parent’s child and they owe allegiance to a foreign nation, not the United States of America. Americans have become decidedly soft, with a careless attitude and they are going to pay dearly from it? THOSE who don’t already know or cannot comprehend, that Senate law, is not there for the benefit of taxpayers but thieves that come in the night across our borders, stay after their visa runs out. The Republicans want the abundance of cheap labor waiting for the word and the only thing we get is footing the bill, for those already here, who will join our own share of deadbeats. All but a few commonsense suggestions went down the toilet, such as enforcing the border with a double layer fence complete with 700 miles a flesh tearing barbs. This should be the major concern for us all, because those arrogant SOB’s don’t care a monkeys AXXX for the citizens and legal immigrants, as they are well fed by your dollars and plenty of lucrative favors by the special interests.

VP says ‘immigrants’ forced to ‘constantly live in fear’

(Washington ton Times) – Vice President Joseph R. Biden suggested to a crowd in Trinidad on Tuesday that it’s a shame the United States doesn’t give proper respect to nations of the world by allowing immigrants unfettered access to American citizenship. “I believe in international relations, as in any relationship, it comes down to respect. Do we respect one another? And do we show respect? For my country, that means reforming our immigration system so the 11 million — 11 million — undocumented men, women and many children, who came through no choice of their own, can come out of the shadows and be full participants in American life because they are already in many cases participating and contributing to the growth and prosperity of my country, but required to constantly live in fear and live in the shadows,” he said, as posted on the White House Office of the Vice President’s website. Mr. Biden was at the diplomatic center in the Port of Spain, the capital of Trinidad and Tobago, to sign a trade agreement with Caribbean countries. He also said: “It’s about time, and the president and I have been calling for this for a long time, even back in the days when he was a senator and I was in the Senate. It’s about time they’re afforded the dignity they deserve..?

It certainly looks like the VP has joined the lunatic fringe, when he swore allegiance to the United States, but it certainly is not the American taxpayers. But then we have already seen it from Obama’s administration, selling guns to drug cartels, using the IRS to intimidate the TEA PARTY organizations and Conservatives who still believe in the right of the people and the U.S. Constitution. It’s questionable that the IRS would that pursue the Tea Party and Conservative entities, but are unconcerned by the 7.2 Billion dollars being literary passed on to illegal aliens with children as a tax credit, even if they don’t exist or make fraudulent applications for progeny in foreign countries and sending the a check? Then again this administration is also sneaking into the lives of investigative journalists at a national newspaper, to locate their whistle blowers?

Again, killing any of the major triggers has been removed and now it’s a fight that taxpayer must win at all cost, because it’s just the proverbial Tip of the Iceberg? You break our laws and the Liberal Democrats are still going to pay you out of the state or federal coffers?

ACTION: We must Stop Amnesty Now. Congress is in a flat-out race with each other to eradicate border security. Behind closed doors right now the "Gang of 8” is creating a plan to give millions of illegal aliens free citizenship. We need you to help us conduct a full frontal assault on every member of Congress by contacting the main switchboard toll-free--1-888-978-3094--? As TAXPAYERS we must to send urgent and personalized free Fax bombardment messages to ALL 100 U.S. Senators AND ALL 435 U.S. Representatives at their DC offices by going on NumbersUSA website. You can even learn to a much greater extent, daily dangerous antics at the border in the selected rural and national press, that Washington prefers to keep away from your eyes. Then Judicial Watch the latest fillings relating to political corruption in state and federal government agencies, with emphasis on the illegal alien invasion.

LenSimpson
LenSimpson

Inscribed on the Statue of liberty----"Give me your tired, your poor,

Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free;
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore,
Send these, the homeless,
Tempest-tossed to me
I lift my lamp beside the golden door!

morrisdev
morrisdev

Parishioners are to Churches what voters are to politicians.  As soon as they realize that a lot of their parishioners are XYZ, then they'll find a way for XYZ to have a nice spot in the bible, regardless of who XYZ is.


jmac
jmac

Somebody tell Pat Robertson.  Until Latino evangelicals get voters to the polls and judges on the courts, their help is an inch deep.  

formerlyjames
formerlyjames

Nice story, but the right wing evangelicals haven't yet accepted Jesus' parable of the good Samaritan.  

lovelygarden
lovelygarden

@MattTimeInc  Mexico is swarming with illegals...they get deported if they cause problems but no one is hunting them down to deport them


MuricanBob
MuricanBob

LMAO! "Big Daddy" your daddies would have never made your ignorant mind if this was used for them. Grow up, brother.

SaveUrth
SaveUrth

@CharlesEdwardBrown --  You are correct.  The 1986 amnesty was a disaster from day 1.  It simply provided incentives for millions more to illegally move into the United States to await the time when it would be their turn.  It looks like that time may be about now.  Then we'll wait another 30 years for the next amnesty.  And so forth and so on....  The reality is that the vast majority of illegal aliens are Mexican. So, let's look at how to make it so fewer people want to leave Mexico for the USA.  One answer is to make immigration laws that comply with the laws of economics (about supply and demand of labor -- legalize necessary immigration flows) and, more importantly, help the people overthrow the uber-corrupt Mexican government and help the people there create a stable, multi-party democratic republic.  Mexico has never had anything other than a plutocracy that is massively corrupt.  In hindsight, it really is a shame that the US didn't just annex all of Mexico during the Mexican War (I know such an idea sounds uber-imperialistic but, hey, its the truth). Whatever the US annexed has become free and prosperous.  Whatever Mexico kept has become, well, a land of poverty, corruption and squandered opportunity.  

DavidFarrar
DavidFarrar

@Doctorjaguar 

If that is that case, couldn't Mexico underwrite all of these illegal aliens' heath care costs in return for their US health care contributions?


ex animo

davidfarrar

AmericanCynic
AmericanCynic

What Emma Goldman wrote circa 1880 has very little relevance to the US economic situation in 2013.  You must realize that in the latter part of the 19th century, the US was a nation with less than 100,000,000 inhabitants, with a dynamic, industrializing economy that could absorb hundreds of thousands of unskilled immigrant laborers.  This is clearly not the situation today, and to pretend that this poem should have a significant influence over US immigration policy now is absolutely stupid and at variance with the realities of 21st century American.  Do you think that we should practice medicine or law or engineering or any other discipline as was done when this poem was inscribed--I would venture that you don't.  Today's situation is a nation of 313,000,000 people, with a post-industrial economy where increasinly, only high skilled individuals will have much of a future in the labor market.  Why should we be tied to an immigration policy that was appropriate the 1880s American?  You must also realize that automation and other high tech processes, e.g,, robotics are constantly eliminating jobs so to continue to have an immigration policy that favors low skilled individuals is counter to the needs of the US economy.  Likewise, this bill that will increase H-1B and other work-related visas is going to worsen the 15% real unemployment rate.  I would suggest that you put away your misguided, antiquated sentimentalities and read up on the current economic realities such as the impacts of robotics, etc. 

carolynabliawalker
carolynabliawalker

This was a piece of crap given to America by a French artist, And  Americans were stupid enough to erect it in N.Y. horbor.@LenSimpson 

MuricanBob
MuricanBob

God bless you Mrs. Johnny Walker, you need it.