Tuesday, April 20, 2010
Randal Archibold of the N.Y. Times reports that the Arizona Senate passed one of the most stringent immigration laws in the country yesterday, marking a new level of influence for a Republican state senator who not long ago was seen by many as an eccentric firebrand. The bill’s author, State Senator Russell Pearce, in foreground, says it is necessary because the federal government has failed to act. Immigration advocates want the governor to block the bill. Passage of the law, which would, among other things, allow the authorities to demand proof of legal entry into the United States from anyone suspected of being in the country illegally, testified to the relative lack of political power of Arizona Latinos, and to the hardened views toward illegal immigration among Republican politicians both here and nationally.
Rev. Jim Wallis – a progressive evangelical leader, author of Rediscovering Values and president of Sojourners (the largest network of progressive Christians in the United States) – said in a press conference today in Arizona that the state’s proposed anti-immigrant law is a “social sin.” Rev. Wallis, along with other national and local faith and civil rights leaders, is standing in solidarity with the Arizona immigrant community as more than 10,000 petitions are delivered to Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer, calling on her to veto the anti-immigrant legislation.
In a statement of support, Rev. Wallis said, “This law is a social sin, and would make it illegal for the faith community of Arizona to extend God’s love and charity to some of our most vulnerable neighbors.”
The full text of Rev. Wallis’ statement is below:
"One month after more than 200,000 people rallied in Washington to show support for comprehensive immigration reform, Arizona politicians have passed an anti-immigration bill that creates fear and mistrust throughout Arizona’s Latino community. This law is a social sin, and would make it illegal for the faith community of Arizona to extend God’s love and charity to some of our most vulnerable neighbors.
Let me be clear. What we do to and with undocumented immigrants – the strangers in our midst – is a moral issue, a religious issue, a biblical issue. As Jesus said in Matthew 25, “I was a stranger and you welcomed me … just as you did it to one of the least of these who are members of my family, you did it to me.”
Now, more than ever, we must boldly declare that it is time to address the brokenness of our federal laws by enacting comprehensive immigration reform so that all people are treated with respect and dignity. It’s time that all of us work together – in Arizona, Washington, DC, and beyond – to build and shape our nation into a place of welcome, of justice, and a place we can all be proud to call home.
This is the message Arizona should send to the rest of the country, not the immoral and anti-immigrant rhetoric contained in this bill; because this bill is not just about Arizona, not just about Hispanics, not just about the undocumented. It’s about all of us. It’s about the country we want to be. And Arizona's proposed law would make it illegal for us to extend hospitality to strangers as Jesus commands us to do in Matthew 25.
At this crucial moment, we must take the call of our scriptures seriously and act prophetically for justice. Politicians are trying to separate us from the strangers in our midst. But I invite us to surround Arizona’s politicians with testimonies of those who have suffered, and with prayers of the people. Let us pray for Governor Brewer to have the courage to not sign this bill, even if it’s politically difficult or costly.
Let us create one of the most powerful movements of prayer for compassion and justice that this nation has ever seen, one which will bring winds of change to Washington, DC, and lay the foundation for fair and just immigration reform. Because loving your neighbor should never be against the law. And if a law of the state makes Christian compassion illegal, know that Christians will disobey that law."