by Rev. Edgar Palacios
Associate Pastor, Christian Education
Calvary Baptist Church
, Washington, DC USA
September 3, 2010
Christians, God commands us to love one another, and God also calls us to support immigration reform in the United States which would resolve a human and moral crisis. Approximately 12 million undocumented immigrants live in this country. They live here for reasons that are beyond their control and generally are due to economic, political, social, and environmental concerns in their countries of origin. Their motivations are due to the free trade agreements with the United States, the application of economic models by governments and groups with economic power, military interventions, the destruction of natural resources used to sustain human life, the threat of political insecurity, violence from drug trafficking, etc.
Undocumented immigrants are people with sons and daughters who work and pay their taxes. This country’s economy needs them. But they live in the shadows due to their immigration status, and are vulnerable to injustice and exploitation. They work in unsafe and unregulated conditions and live without medical attention, elevating the chance of sickness or injury. They are exposed to unreported crime and abuse and face situations in which labor laws are usually not applied. In this sense, their human and civil rights are violated.
As Christians, we must respond swiftly and seriously to this crisis, whether we are Baptist, Lutheran, Catholic, Episcopal, or members of any other church. We must engage not only in vocal action, but action to gain support in Congress from Democrats, Republicans, and Independents to pass comprehensive, humane, and just immigration reform. It is important to acknowledge that both progressive and conservative churches are already working toward this goal. In addition to supporting churches, we support other groups in society, such as unions, and their efforts in working for reform. Immigration reform must make possible the normalization of the immigration status of undocumented immigrants, and it must ensure the reunification of families, respect for labor rights, and the protection and integration of refugees.
God’s love was wholly embodied in the person of Jesus Christ. Jesus’ words and His life in practice demonstrated preference toward those who lived in the shadows of society during his time. He embraced those who were marginalized and vulnerable. To those who suffered social, economic, or moral oppression, He offered them a road to liberation. At the core of His life was the view that all human beings are created by God to live in freedom and justice, to enjoy fair working conditions, and to live with dignity. As Christians, we are compelled to love, and it is both our privilege and responsibility to walk alongside the victims of sin in the world.
As the world observes the actions of our country, it is fundamentally important to love one another, working as hard as possible to implement immigration reform that solves the problems that our immigrant brothers and sisters face in their daily lives and existence. For the benefit of the country, for the benefit of others and of ourselves, we must continue ahead until this is accomplished. This is the challenge of faith we face today. Immigration reform is necessary and is wholly achievable through the power of love.
—Rev. Edgar Palacios is Associate Pastor of Christian Education at Calvary Baptist Church, Washington, DC USA, a BPFNA Partner Congregation. Rev. Palacios is a former member of BPFNA's Board of Directors.