Churches Seek to Assist Undocumented Immigrants

CHICAGO, IL (October 29, 2011) – Resurrection Covenant Church has declared itself an “Immigrant Welcoming Congregation.”

Last Sunday afternoon, the church hosted a celebration that involved 11 Chicago-area religious congregations that are committed to assisting undocumented immigrants.

“We’ve already been helping immigrants who have faced detention and deportation,” says Aaron Johnson, pastor of Resurrection.

That assistance has come in multiple forms, Johnson says. “We helped families get financial support to replace the income they’ve lost when a family member is detained.”

Congregation members also have provided childcare and helped immigrants work through the legal systems. “Sometimes it is something as simple as just paying a visit or bringing over a meal,” Johnson says.

Church representatives at Sunday’s gathering, who also included lay members, denounced federal policies that have led to the deportation of nearly one million immigrants the past two years, says Johnson. Participants called for suspending detentions and deportations until Congress passes comprehensive immigration reform.

“Congregations have been coming to us and asking what they can do to respond to the injustice and deal with the terrible human consequences of the Obama administration’s detentions and deportations,” explains Jenny Dale, coordinator of the Chicago New Sanctuary Coalition, a project of the Chicago Religious Leadership Network on Latin America. “So we’ve told them, ‘Let’s find out.’ ”

The result was bringing together “Immigrant Welcoming Congregations,” Dale says.

Religious organizations that participated in the celebration included Berwyn United Church of Christ (Iglesia Unida de Berwyn), First United Church of Oak Park, and Saint Nicholas Catholic Parish in Evanston.

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  1. I  am curious what laws are being broken when a religious congregation lends support to illegal immigrants who are in need?  Is it a law that the average “Joe” has some sort of obligation to turn in illegal immigrants? I know that it is illegal to provide employment, but taking care of those who are left behind after a deportation seems in keeping with the way of Jesus loving others as ourselves.

  2. I can sympathize with the legal and moral struggle many face in deciding whether to assist undocumented immigrants or not. Do we break the law because we don’t agree with it? I have often wrestled with this question.

    There are several examples in Scripture where people broke the law so that God’s purposes would be fulfilled. Here are a couple: Rahab hid the spies that Joshua had sent out to Jericho; Moses’ mother hid him for 3 months before putting him in a basket and floating him down the Nile in order to save him from Pharoah’s decree that he and all male babies be killed.

    As a pastor in Berwyn, Illinois, I minister to the Hispanic community and this very issue is the one we face the most. It is very tiring and nerve-wracking sometimes to minister to people with so many needs because of the current state of affairs. I do believe, however that our Father has called on us to be kind to the alien in our land. In the end, I believe that mercy triumphs over justice and that it is more important to me to minister the Father’s heart to those in need. God’s grace to us all.

  3. We in the Christian community walk a fine line in the world of illegal immigration.  We live in a country where the Rule of Law is valued and in fact, is what gives us our freedom and ability to succeed.  On the other hand, there are those who live among us who are suffering and need our compassionate assistance.  The challenge is to uphold the law while helping those who have not.  I am not sure I would call the meeting you had, a “celebration” but am glad to see the joining together of several churches to address the human need issue.  I encourage you to give compassionate help while encouraging those in need to obey the law of the land in which they now live.  

  4. “Congregations have been coming to us and asking what they can do to respond to the injustice and deal with the terrible human consequences of the Obama administration’s detentions and deportations,” explains Jenny Dale, coordinator of the Chicago New Sanctuary Coalition, a project of the Chicago Religious Leadership Network on Latin America. “So we’ve told them, ‘Let’s find out.’ “

    These laws may indeed by unjust, but does the Executive
    Branch have the option of not enforcing these laws?

    The story as written seems to imply that it does.
    Are you sure of that?
    Everett Wilson

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