Methodist Mission Directors Call for Just Immigration Laws

Directors of the United Methodist Church’s mission agency called on church members to support just U.S. and worldwide immigration laws, the agency reported on Friday.

Some 90 policymakers for the General Board of Global Ministries (GBGM) gathered in Stamford, Conn., to address concerns on migration laws. The directors emphasized that lawmakers should avoid passing laws that would divide families and “make felons out of millions of workers now in the U.S. who are without green cards or visas,” according to GBGM.

“The United Methodist Church has a long history of being in ministry with immigrants and supporting just immigration policy,” said the mission board directors.

Earlier this month, President Bush signed a bill that would provide $1.2 billion for hundreds of miles of fencing along the U.S.-Mexico border and more monitoring equipment.

Although the mission directors have voiced their opposition to a wall, others have supported greater border control.

“Americans should never forget that we are at war with evil people committed to our destruction. Terrorists will use any means necessary to enter our country and wreak as much havoc as possible,” wrote Ken Connor, the chairman of the Center for A Just Society, in a recent article on the immigration issue. “National security imperatives dictate that we know who is crossing our border and why. Therefore, border control is essential; everything else comes second.”

Connor also pointed out that illegal immigrants are “putting a serious strain” on the country’s social welfare programs.

“These programs have limited resources, and when resources are being consumed by those who are here illegally, American taxpayers do not receive the services for which they pay,” he noted.

Connor concluded that although strict border control and enacting justice to those who broke the law is necessary, he called for balance by providing an “opportunity for redemption.”

“As the President said, most immigrants come to America not because they want to hurt anybody, but because they want to feed their family and work hard, following the dream that has brought millions to our shores over the decades,” said Connor.

The chairman suggested charging illegal immigrants fines and requiring payment of back-taxes, but providing “the opportunity for a legal future in America [to] demonstrate that America is still the land of opportunity, where past mistakes can be redeemed.”