Protect immigrants, enact just reform

2013 promises to be an exciting year for just, humane immigration reform. We may be tempted, however, to hear the good words by elected leaders and just hope it all turns out okay. If you want justice, you have to work for it, and the time is now to get to work!

Jasmine’s Story

Video from UMCOMproductions, “Jasmine’s Story,” illustrates the brokenness of the current immigration system and the need for people of faith to respond.

As United Methodists, "we recognize, embrace, and affirm all persons, regardless of country of origin, as members of the family of God" (Social Principles ¶162H).

Here's how you can be involved in helping move just, humane immigration reform ahead in 2013:

National Strategy Call for United Methodists

You are invited to join our Annual Conference Rapid Response Teams, leaders from United Methodist Women, Justice for Our Neighbors and other United Methodists passionate about immigration reform in a conference call Tuesday, Jan. 15 at 4 p.m. ET. We will discuss plans for moving just, humane immigration reform ahead in 2013.

Call-in number is (800) 920-7487; pass code is 76723736. RSVP.

Be sure to share this opportunity with others by inviting them to call in also.

February Family Unity Prayer Vigils

During February, United Methodists will host Family Unity Prayer Vigils in coordination with other faith groups around the United States. I ask that you let me know at what date and where your Family Unity Prayer Vigil is held.

As part of your Family Unity Prayer Vigil I encourage you to show a 12-minute video about a young woman named Jasmine. It tells how the U.S.’s broken immigration system tore her family apart, but also how a United Methodist church was transformed.

Contact me via email to get a free DVD of “Jasmine's Story.” Don’t forget to include your mailing address, by the way. I will send you the DVD, plus some other materials that will help you educate your congregation.

I can also send you via email a guide on how to put together an effective Family Unity Prayer Vigil. The vigil can be a standalone event or easily included in an already-planned Sunday morning or evening worship service. Just let me know via email, and I’ll send it to you.

During the vigil, whether it is its own event or part of an existing worship service, you should focus on three areas of concern:

  1. Protection for immigrants;
  2. Empowerment of people of faith to speak out more boldly for immigrants; and
  3. Moral courage for members of Congress to show leadership in enacting humane immigration reform.

Hosting Family Unity Prayer Vigils gives people of faith an opportunity to reflect on the deep scriptural, spiritual roots of our work to welcome and support immigrants in the United States, highlight the moral aspects of the immigration issue and remember the real-life consequences of the U.S.’s failed policies on immigrant families.

By letting me know the date and place of your Family Unity Prayer Vigil, it will enable us to show our representatives in Congress that just, humane immigration reform is a top priority for United Methodists and other people of faith. The vigils demonstrate a growing movement in support of immigration reform. And, of course, don’t hesitate to recruit other congregations to host their own vigils or to take part in yours.

Protecting the rights of our immigrant sisters and brothers, preventing gun violence and ending mass incarceration: there’s a lot to do in 2013, but I am ready for it. Are you? Let's start!

Editor's note: Bill Mefford is director of Civil & Human Rights at the General Board of Church & Society.

Mefford supervises an “action network” that provides legislative updates, educational resources and identifies opportunities to act on issues involving immigration reform, refugees, criminal justice reform, abolition of torture, religious freedom and racial justice. He issues “Action Alerts” periodically through email.

Joining the Civil & Human Rights Action Network is free: contact Donna Brandyberry, (202) 488-5641.

Letter to the Editor