Immigrants Among Us

At our 2016 Annual Meeting, the Minnesota Conference UCC passed a resolution declaring ourselves as an “immigrant welcoming” Conference {link to resolution}.  The General Synod of the UCC followed suit in July of last year.  The Immigration Team of the Conference invites your learning, advocacy, and engagement as we continue to live into this shared commitment.  Immigration-related issues like the status of the DREAM Act, current bed quotas, etc are currently urgent.  Follow THIS LINK to read a letter from your Immigration Team providing some facts and inviting your action as an individual or congregation.  Contact Diane Haines, Immigration Team Chair, diane.m.haines@comcast.netto learn more or invite a member of the team to your congregation.  Let us “welcome the stranger” in our midst, as our faith compels us.

 

From the Minnesota Conference UCC Immigration Team (I-team)

 

Dear Conference friends,

 

We continue to thank God that our Conference and our denomination have declared themselves to be Immigrant Welcoming.  At least 15 of our congregations have either become immigrant welcoming, sanctuary and/or sanctuary supporting.  We are taking seriously God’s call to us in Leviticus 19:33-34

                33 When a foreigner resides among you in your land, do not mistreat them.34 The foreigner

residing among you must be treated as your native-born. Love them as yourself,

for you were foreigners in Egypt. I am the Lord your God.

Our Immigration Team wants to keep you informed about what is currently happening with the immigrants residing among us.  First of all, we learned in September that President Trump was rescinding the Executive Order that President Obama and issued in June 2012 which gave youth brought to the United States by their undocumented parents the opportunity to apply for a two year deferred status so that they could either work, attend college or be a part of the armed services of the US.  This was renewable every two years, with the hope that Congress would finally pass a Comprehensive Immigration Reform bill. Unfortunately, this has not happened.  With DACA being rescinded by the current President, those youth (Dreamers) become at risk of deportation when their applications expire.  Congress and the President indicated that they will provide legislation to protect these youth by the end of 2017.  That did not happen.  It continues to be discussed by Congress without agreement.  March is when many of these youth will find their applications expiring and will be in immediate danger of deportation.   Please be prayerful about this and call your Congressional representative and senators expressing your concern that a clean Dream Act be passed before March.  A clean dream act means one that does not attach to the bill stipulations for an increase in border protections.  There are already drones, a border wall, thousands of Border Patrol agents and ICE agents.  (Invite those who have made border trips to come to your congregation and share what they have learned.  Contact Diane Haines at diane.m.haines@comcast.net for more info.)

The I Team is also concerned about the increase in deportations in Minnesota during this past year.  In the first 6 months, deportations increased by 32%.  This is due in part to an increase in raids in the state.  It is also due to ICE no longer having to follow a list of who should be deported (there had been an Executive Order that specified that ICE was to seek out terrorists, drug lords, murderers, felons, and on down to lesser crimes and at the bottom of the list were those who had crossed the border without papers.)  Present Trump rescinded that and now any of the 11 million undocumented immigrants can be sought out for deportation. The increase in deportations is also due in part to the lack of enough pro bono attorneys to represent asylum seekers. Immigrants with attorneys are twelve times more likely to win their cases.  Despite members of the faith community fighting for immigrant families not being separated due to deportations, many of them have been

 

Another change that Minnesota has experienced is the increase of Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) beds in some of the five county jails across Minnesota that hold people suspected of being in the U.S. illegally — Nobles, Freeborn, Sherburne, Ramsey and Carver, and ICE wants to further expand to other counties in Minnesota. In June 2015 at our Minnesota Conference annual meeting we passed a resolution to ask Congress to eliminate the Bed Quota which stipulates how many immigrant beds are to be filled each night. The bed quota was eliminated from the DHS budget in May 2017 but it appears that the Trump Administration has been talking about requesting funding for fiscal year 2018 to hold up to 51,000 people at a time.  That is why they are looking to increase the beds in Minnesota by expanding to other jails.  We will keep you aware of the facts about this so that we can urge our Congress people to oppose any new bed mandate being attached to the DHS budget for 2018.  We hold fast to our Conference desire to not have the bed quota reinstated.

 

The Immigration team has allies throughout Minnesota with whom we work.  Most recently, MIRAC (Minnesota Immigrant Rights Action Committee) brought a 13 step platform to the Minneapolis city council that would be more supportive of the immigrants in Hennepin County.  One of those items has already passed.  MIRAC was grateful for the endorsement by the Minnesota Conference!

 

The Immigration team also works with The Advocates for Human Rights, The Immigrant Law Center, Interfaith Coalition on Immigration (ICOM), The Center for New Americans, ISAIAH, the Asylum Seekers Network, and Navigate.  We are grateful for many partners working together to seek justice for immigrants.

 

The Immigration Team of the Conference encourages you to be prayerful about how you can live out God’s command in Leviticus to love the stranger and treat them as a citizen.  Here are some actions that we would like you to consider.

  • “Like” the Minnesota Conference I-team on Facebook and stay informed

 

      Call your Congress people and urge them to: 

  1. Pass a “Clean DREAM Act” that is not tied to border wall funding.
  2. No more ICE contracts in Minnesota
    • (D) Sen. Amy Klobuchar 612.727.5220
    • (D) Sen. Tina Smith 202-224-5641
    • (R) Rep. Tom Emmer 763.241. 6848
    • (R) Rep. Eric Paulsen 952.505.8510
    • (R) Rep. Jason Lewis 651.846.2120
    • (D) Rep. Tim Walz 388.2149
    • (D) Rep. Betty McCollum 651.224.9191
    • (D) Rep. Keith Ellison 612.522.1212
    • (D) Rep. Colin Peterson 507.537.2299
    • (D) Rep. Richard Nolan 218.454.4078.
  1. Contact your Conference Immigration if you want to be notified of ways to respond to immigration concerns. (diane.m.haines@comcast.net)
  2. Attend a monthly interfaith vigil at the Whipple Center at Fort Snelling on the second Tuesday of each month at 7:30 am.    This is in front of the building where the court immigrant cases are heard.
  3. Consider being a Conversations with Friends visitor in one of our detention centers.  This is a program started by the late Rev. John Guttermann which has provided human contact for incarcerated immigrants who are not allowed to see others face to face.  Contact Steve Kraemer at 952.240.3501