Among the millions of families celebrating Thanksgiving this week are many Native Americans who see it as a time to come together and give thanks, but some are reminding their fellow citizens that there is very little understanding of indigenous peoples' history in the U.S., and that the path to reconciliation is still a long one to walk.
"It feels like our Native community is an old grandmother, who has a very large and very beautiful house. And years ago, some people came into our house, and locked us upstairs in the bedroom. Today, our house is full of people. They are sitting on our furniture, they are eating our food, they are having a party in our house. They've even come upstairs and unlocked the door to our bedroom, but it's much later, and we're tired, we're old, we're weak, we're sick, and so we can't, or we don't come out," reflects Mark Charles, a speaker and writer located on the Navajo Reservation in Fort Defiance, Ariz., in a video posted earlier this year titled "Being Native American in the US."
"But the thing that is most painful, is that virtually no one comes upstairs to find the grandmother in the bedroom. Nobody sits down next to us on the bed, and simply says: 'Thank you. Thank you, for letting us be in your house.'" more >>
The Young Conservatives group at the University of Texas-Austin is creating headlines with the invention of a new game entitled "Catch an Illegal Immigrant." The game has caused a great deal of debate about immigration, which is exactly what the group wants. Now, though, the chairman of the group has canceled the event due to the publicity and "uproar" of many.
Students at the University were supposed wear a label with the words "Illegal Immigrant" on it, and those participating in the game were invited to "catch" those students and bring them to the Young Conservatives' base. Anyone who did so would have received a $25 gift card as a reward.
Almost immediately, the group faced criticism and opposition for the game, and now Chairman Lorenzo Garcia has released a letter of apology and canceled the event. In his letter to the public, he noted that the $25 reward "was misguided" and said he only wanted to "get attention for the subject" of immigration and hopes that the publicity "will create debate among students." more >>
President Barack Obama and evangelical leaders have pledged to make the issue of immigration reform the top national priority following months of delays due to the Syria crisis and government shutdown.
"President Obama is not alone in making immigration reform a top priority. Across the country, local and regional conservative leaders continue to showcase their considerable support for members of Congress who back commonsense and bipartisan reform," Ali Noorani, executive director of the National Immigration Forum, said in a statement.
Obama pledged on Tuesday in an interview with Univision that "the day after" the fiscal crisis has been resolved, he will push for a vote on immigration reform. On Wednesday, political leaders finally reached an agreement on a temporary government funding bill and a temporary extension of the nation's debt limit, which will at least delay further decisions on the topic until the beginning of 2014. more >>
Fixing our immigration system will strengthen the U.S. economy, create jobs for American workers and cut the deficit according to an August White House report describing the economic benefits of immigration reform that includes an earned path to citizenship. As the push for immigration reform charges into the fall, a diverse coalition of religious leaders is also calling attention to the moral aspects of this debate. Their efforts remind us that the immigration system is designed to do more than strengthen our economy and national security: it also serves to protect those who aspire to live, work and thrive in this great nation.
Catholics leaders and organizations are among those playing a leading role in making this case.
In a recent piece featured in New York Daily News, Cardinal Dolan, president of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, wrote, "We cannot let this opportunity pass. Immigration reform would help families, it would help our economy and it would improve our security. Most importantly, it's the right thing to do." Cardinal Dolan announced that dioceses across the country will hold events to stress the need for commonsense immigration reform. From California to Florida, at Masses and at marches, Catholics have stressed the urgency of the issue as well as the broad support for a path to earned citizenship. Bishops, diocesan officials and parish representatives are meeting with their Members of Congress to show a strong, unified stance in favor of immigration reform. Kevin Appleby, the director of immigration policy for the organization, explained why Catholics are multiplying their efforts in September: "It's a critical time. We need to get the Senate bill through the House. It needs a push. We're doing everything right now to keep the pressure up." more >>
The Roman Catholic Church in the U.S. is increasing pressure on lawmakers to adopt immigration reform and is taking that message to the pews, planning for a major coordinated event for Sunday Masses on Sept. 8.
"We want to try to pull out all the stops," said Kevin Appleby, the director of migration policy at the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, according to The New York Times. "They have to hear the message that we want this done, and if you're not successful during the summer, you're not going to win by the end of the year."
Lawmakers have yet to decide on substantial changes to the path to citizenship for unauthorized immigrants, but a number of evangelical churches and groups, along with Catholics, have made it a prime focus in their mission this past year. more >>
Update on Aug. 5, 2013: In a response to this article from Jonathan Merritt, he noted he spoke to someone at CBS about its poll showing that 75 percent of evangelicals support a conditional pathway to citizenship for undocumented immigrants. CBS, it turns out, made the same mistake as Merritt and used "evangelicals" when they meant "white evangelicals." We believe, though, that this new information makes the point of this analysis even stronger. Since non-white evangelicals are at least as likely to support immigration reform as white evangelicals, then the Evangelical Immigration Table does indeed represent the views of a supermajority of evangelicals.
Evangelical support for immigration reform is a top-down, "grasstops," elite-led movement with little support among the "grassroots," or the evangelicals in the pews, Jonathan Merritt and Mark Tooley have recently argued. Their arguments, though, are based upon an assumption that the views of all evangelicals are represented by the views of white evangelicals.
"As it turns out, the evangelical movement on immigration has been mostly top-down and not bottom-up. It has failed to do the difficult work of convincing and mobilizing (or at least neutralizing) the millions of evangelical churchgoers and voters," Merritt, an evangelical author, wrote July 23 for Religion News Service. more >>