Immigration Interview with Jenny Hwang (2)

I want to thank Jenny Hwang for taking the time to answer some questions raised by her book, Welcoming the Stranger: Justice, Compassion & Truth in the Immigration Debate. The national questions and debates about immigration aren’t going away anytime soon.  Wouldn’t it be remarkable if Christians were informed theologically and practically about these issues in such a way as to make significant contributions?  After all, what may seem like a debate about politics and ideology to some of us is a matter of much more immediate concern to so many immigrants.

Today we focus on some of the more practical concerns in the immigration debate, including one that may initially seem trite.

How important is the distinction between identifying someone as an “illegal” immigrant and an “undocumented” immigrant?

We prefer to refer to people as “undocumented” rather than “illegal.” We do not deny that it is illegal to enter the United States without a valid visa, nor do we condone any illegal activity. However, while entry without inspection (or over staying a temporary visa) is illegal, this does not define the person’s identity. Many of us have broken a law at one time or another (we can probably confess to having sped down the highway on more than one occasion), but if a single (or even, in the case of our speeding, repeated) act were to define our identity, we would probably all be “illegals.” It is too easy to dehumanize immigrants with such terminology. So, rather than referring to people as illegal aliens, we generally opt to refer to people as undocumented immigrants.

The immigration debate seems to have taken a back seat to the health care debate these days. When do expect to see immigration re-enter the national debate and what are key issues you hope to see resolved?

Rep. Luis Gutierrez from Chicago, IL introduced an immigration bill on Tuesday December 15, 2009 called the Comprehensive Immigration Reform for America’s Security and Prosperity Act of 2009, or CIR ASAP Act of 2009. This bill would provide increased border security, an employment verification system, reduce family based visa backlogs, and create a path for earned legal status for undocumented immigrants. The bill would also establish an independent federal commission that will develop employment-based immigration policies as well as increase American worker protections.

Senator Schumer in the Senate has also taken leadership on immigration and is working on a bill to introduce next year. Many faith groups are supporting comprehensive immigration reform which can be outlined as follows:

  • Reforms in our family based immigration system to significantly reduce waiting times for separated families who currently wait many years to be reunited;
  • The creation of more responsive legal avenues for workers and their families who wish to migrate to the U.S. to enter our country and work in a safe, legal, and orderly manner that prevents their exploitation and assures them due process;
  • The option for those individuals and families who are already living in the U.S. and working hard, to apply for permanent legal status and citizenship if they choose to do so, by meeting specific application criteria; and
  • Border protection policies that are consistent with humanitarian values and with the need to treat all individuals with respect, while allowing the authorities to carry out the critical task of enforcing our laws.

What are some practical steps a person could take who wants to become more actively involved in advocating for compassion and justice for immigrants.

I think a good acronym to get people involved in immigration is PLEASE.

P- Prayer is critical to bring before God our concerns and needs about immigration. We can pray for immigrants, especially for families separated by current policies, for Congress and the President, and for the countries from which immigrants come

L- Listening and Learning from our immigrant brothers and sisters. We can build relationships with our immigrant brothers and sisters so that they can help us to understand how this issue affects all of us as the Church. We can also build relationships with pastors and church leaders leading immigrant congregations. There are also many books and other resources to help us understand this issue better, including Welcoming the Stranger as well as Christians at the Border.

E- Education of our local communities and churches is very important on this issue. Churches can ask a pastor of a nearby immigrant congregation to share with their congregation. Churches can also dedicate a Sunday School class, missions conference, or Sunday sermon to looking at immigration in Scripture. World Relief or other ministries that work with immigrants may be helpful in connecting churches and individuals with volunteer opportunities that can facilitate mutual learning

A- Advocacy- It is critical for folks to write, call, and visit your Congressperson to support Comprehensive Immigration Reform. People can email advocacy@wr.org in order to receive bi-monthly emails updating you on immigration news. Folks can also text “JUSTICE” to 69866 to get updates on immigration. These calls and letters will determine whether immigration reform passes in Congress, which in turn will affect the lives of millions of people in the country now. It is also important to speak up for immigrants whenever you hear or read rumors or myths about them.

S- Service- There are many ways for a church to serve the immigrants in their community. Churches can provide English classes, mentorships/friendship partners to help newly arriving immigrants adjust to a new culture, space for an immigrant congregation to meet, and legal services, with proper training and governmental recognition.

E- Evangelism- As we serve and welcome immigrants into our churches, we have the opportunity to share with them the transformational message of the gospel

Author: David Swanson

Pastor of New Community Covenant Church in Bronzeville. Collecting signs of life.

7 thoughts on “Immigration Interview with Jenny Hwang (2)”

  1. Either a House or Senate bill, that releases millions of foreign workers into our country, will devastate the public safety net. As it is now–California–a SANCTUARY STATE–is under constant bombardment to support uncounted numbers of foreign invaders on the health care, education and penal system. America’s largest population of illegal immigrants, California bears a huge cost to provide basic human services for this fast growing, illegal low-income segment of its population. A new study from the Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR) examines the costs of education, health care and incarceration of illegal aliens, and concludes that the costs to Californians is $10.5 billion annually. California voters rebelled and overwhelmingly passed Proposition 187, which sought to limit liability for mass illegal immigration. Since then, state and local governments have blatantly ignored the wishes of the voters and continued to pay out publicly financed benefits on illegal families. Prop 187 was brought before Judge Mariana Pfaelzer, who in November 1997 found the law to be unconstitutional. Governor Wilson appealed the ruling, which brought the case to the federal Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals. (who are extremist Liberals) In 1999, newly elected Democratic Governor Gray Davis had the case brought before mediation, and then intentionally dropped the appeals process before the courts, effectively killing the law so it–NEVER–reached the Supreme Court. Dan Stein, President of FAIR stated, “California’s addiction to ‘cheap’ illegal alien labor is bankrupting the state and posing enormous burdens on the state’s SHRINKING MIDDLE CLASS TAX BASE,” he added “Most Californians, who have seen their taxes increase while public services deteriorate, already know the impact that mass illegal immigration is having on their communities, but even they may be shocked when they learn just how much of a drain illegal immigration has become. After these fiscal numbers were released, there seem to be an intentional reluctance to offer costs for both legal and illegal immigrant cost to the US taxpayer.

    “This is owing to a Sacramento Liberal Assembly, which has edged the state to near bankruptcy. Only by the interruption of multi-millions of American citizens, legal residents and congregations of anti-illegal immigration groups will America prevail. Here is the Capitol switchboard number to call 202-224-3121 because your vote is needed to stop any AMNESTY. The last 1986 Immigration bill was never aggressively enforced, that is why millions of illegal immigrants roam freely throughout America? The blame can be placed upon previous administrations as they have always been in collusion with the business, including Wall Street that is the real mechanism that governs our country? That is–WHY–we are taxed to subsidize–CORPORATE WELFARE–with incredulous numbers of lowly paid illegal wages and no benefits. THIS IS ALL ABOUT CORPORATE GREED and the complete indifference to the AMERICAN WORKERS SURVIVAL AND AN OVERPOPULATION FUTURE.

    In a study from the National Bureau of Economic Research, based on the Census Bureau’s Survey of Income and Program Participation, analyzed the cost of immigrants based on their specific use of (means-tested) welfare entitlements (both direct and indirect), and revealed that the total immigrant receipt of benefits in–1996–came to $180 billion. THAT IS $ ONE HUNDRED & EIGHTY BILLION IN 1996? WHAT ARE THE EXPENDITURES NOW? Today’s costs if audited would support some foreign governments treasuries. Obama and his army of pro-illegal worker lobbyist, faith groups, unions, anti-sovereignty Caucuses, to adjoin and undermine our voting system, by organizing huge numbers who will automatically vote in favor of the Democratic party.

    There are thousands of pro-sovereignty, anti-illegal immigration organizations that are fighting to halt another demented AMNESTY. So if what President Obama has stated that he will approve a so-called Comprehensive Immigration Reform bill, with the approval of the Democratic Party leadership will be a devastating Armageddon. Last Tuesday, December 15, Congressman Luis V. Gutierrez introduced this proposed law, called the Comprehensive Immigration Reform for America’s Security and Prosperity Act of 2009 (CIR ASAP).More than ever before it would be to the advantage of all the Anti-AMNESTY groups to unify and mobilize every organizations such as NUMBERSUSA, FAIR, CAPSWEB, ALIPAC, AMERICAN PATROL, JUDICIAL WATCH and every opponent group to join a massive build-up against this dark foreboding issue. Most of the American population has absolutely no conception of the implication surrounding this outrageous bill. But any bill legalizing foreign nationals who have scorned our laws is unconstitutional, without THE PEOPLE’S absolute permission.

    The millions of illegal people here would pay small fine of $500.00 dollars, learn English and pass a criminal background check. The law suggested stripping police officers of their federally-sanctioned (287 g) powers that detains individuals for immigration and visa violations, according to The Chicago Tribune. Sen. Harry Reid, Pelosi, Napolitano, Schumer and others know that our only true deterrent E-Verify will be obsolete? This is just for those 20 to 30 million illegal aliens and families who live within this nation borders now. Even more millions will be waiting outside the borders, ready to make the rush for US soil, before the president signs the AMNESTY (CIR ASAP) document. THAT WILL BE THE HIGHEST PINNACLE OF MADNESS, FORCED UPON THE AMERICAN WORKER. THEY WILL HAVE TO COMPETE WITH THOSE ALREADY HERE AND THOSE WHO SUDDENLY SWARM INTO AMERICA. All these destitute, unskilled people will need food, housing and welfare support to exist in our society.

  2. Everyone must be warned before coming to the United States. Even if you have a visa, you are putting yourself at risk of Homeland Security ICE officers. I have a friend that is from Paris France here on an education visa to finish his degree. He has been here since 2005. His visa is valid until March of 2010, His passport is valid until 2014, and his I-20 is current. He is not illegal. In 2008 He fell in love and married a U.S. citizen that just happens to be addicted to Prescription medications, He knew nothing about this. But he was arrested due to her mistakes. He was placed in detention, scheduled for deportation. He has been in detention center in Pompano Beach Florida for 5 months now. All this because of her mistakes. She should be the one in jail not him. Please everyone coming to America. Think twice. This couple has lost all there savings on lawyers, she lost her job, and they are in the process of losing there home. All this was caused because ICE has the wrong person in jail. They make up any story they want and when they are questioned about it you get nowhere. I have written many letters to Janet Napolitano, Senator Bill Nelson, Representative Ginny Brown-Waite and even President Obama. But no one will listen. So please people think twice about coming to America for any reason. Our immigration system is broken ….they all agree, but you put your life at risk when you enter our borders. Even if you follow the rules you may also lose everything as this couple has. No one will listen, no one cares. This man has never even had a traffic violation and is 51 yrs old. He has never worked in America has always been self supporting and took nothing from Americans social services. His American dream has turned into a night mare. Shame on America. I think it is about time someone revised this immigration and ICE practice. What is illegal in this case is the way DHS is treating this guy. John Morton and Janet N. should be ashamed of themselves. This is just wrong. While in there detention center they have abused him, denied him food and proper medical treatment. He is diabetic and they will not give him the proper food or medical attention. I think it is terrible. The phone system is very poor and not working everyday. They plan it that way so they can not contact there lawyers and family. Someone needs to stop ICE, They are totally out of control. I fear He will be next on the long list of persons that have died while in detention. Until you go to one of these detention centers and see with your own eyes, you will not believe what America is doing. I was shocked, on my first visit and after almost 6 months of seeing what happens, how they have to live. I am still in shock. Trust me it is all about money. He is in a private prison owned by a company called GEO based near Miami Fl. They are paid very well by our tax dollars, but the treatment is unbelievable. I just have to close by saying shame on America. I have seen it with my own eyes. I wonder how many congressmen have stock in this company. They are doing quite well. Just watch for yourself they are GEO on the stock market and are doing well in a bad economy. Makes one think a government contract like this is not a bad investment. I think the government is making a mountain out of a mole hill and now wants to sell climbing equipment!

  3. We have all broken the law at some point so we are all just as guilty as illegal imigrants? Well maybe so. But when we are held accountable for our lawbreaking, to we try to get the laws changed with hollow arguments and pool enough fellow law breakers and get business to benefit from our crime so they will like us and block vote for politiians who kiss up to our case so we continue on doing what we did and not be guilty any more? No we don’t do that. We admit what we did was wrong and pay our dues and avoid lawbreaking. Not so with Jenny Hwang. Let’s systematize lawbreaking so the lawbreakers can feel better? No there is a HUGE difference between illegal immigrants and the rest of us.

    Their line of thinking is so bogus. They want everyone to believe their law breaking is not bad at all with no ill-feelings by the law breakers. But us law abiders are supposted to feel horrible about holding to the law because we are really by their accusations bigoted, uncomapasionate, selfish people. We are the ones who are to feel guilty and shirk back into the saddows. How many suckers are there out there for this hogwash? Put out your own spin on this.

  4. hatred runs deep, huh?
    didn’t know Glenn Beck reads your blog, David.

    thanks for the interview, though. I’ll have to read it more fully when my blood temp lowers a bit and i don’t see all red.

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