Editor's Note: The Rev. Luis Cortés is president of Esperanza USA. The Rev. Derrick Harkins is senior pastor of the Nineteenth Street Baptist Church in Washington, D.C.
By the Rev. Luis Cortés and the Rev. Derrick Harkins, Special to CNN
During the civil rights movement, religious leaders locked arms in solidarity and marched against the systemic sins of racism and oppression. In the face of Bull Connor’s fire-hoses, diverse people of faith met the despair of segregation with hope for an America that lived up to its noblest creeds.
A new struggle for justice now unites African American and Hispanic clergy, who refuse to remain silent as a broken immigration system divides our communities and undermines our nation’s values.
As pastors who minister in urban communities where African Americans and Hispanics share both common aspirations and challenges, we reject any claims of a “black-brown” divide over this contentious issue.
To combat this myth, we helped organize a first-of-its kind coalition to serve as a powerful witness that comprehensive immigration reform has broad support across racial and ethnic lines. Our coalition includes Esperanza for America, a national grassroots campaign to support passage of immigration reform, and clergy representing many of the largest African- American denominations – the National Baptist Convention, USA, the African Methodist Episcopal Church, and the Progressive National Baptist Convention.
Together we are recruiting clergy to conduct education programs that bring together African-American and Hispanic congregations, and engaging Members of Congress to make sure they understand we can’t wait for immigration reform.
In a recent letter to President Obama, we make it clear that any effort to divide Hispanics and African Americans on this urgent moral issue will fail. But as Christian leaders, we must also search our own souls even as we speak truth to power. African- American and Hispanic churches located only blocks apart have not always worked together as partners in the pursuit of justice. Too often the barriers of language, culture and self-interest have separated us.
This is changing as our communities recognize that the fight for civil and human rights continues anew in an increasingly multicultural nation where many of our immigrant brothers and sisters are demonized as “aliens.”
While our support for immigration reform is rooted in moral convictions, practical arguments are also persuasive. As lawmakers in several states introduce copycat legislation that mirrors Arizona’s misguided law, churches and faith-based organizations are leading the call for a practical and humane response to a flawed immigration system.
Deporting nearly 12 million undocumented immigrants already in the country is unrealistic and separating parents from children is shameful. Border patrol has nearly doubled in size over the last five years. Migrants have responded by finding more remote and dangerous routes into the United States, leading to hundreds of deaths in the Arizona desert.
Securing our nation is essential, but an enforcement-only approach is shortsighted. We need leaders of vision and political courage who reject false choices. We can protect our borders and also uphold human dignity. We are a nation of laws, and also a nation of immigrants where Africans, Europeans, Asians and Hispanics enrich the American character. Contrary to ugly stereotypes, the vast majority of undocumented immigrants are not criminals. They are hard-working people who believe in the American dream and seek a better life for their families.
We do not support “amnesty.” Those who have violated our immigration laws should plead guilty, pay fines and back taxes, learn English and go to the end of the line before given the opportunity to gain legal status – just as comprehensive reform would require. Immigration reform will bring immigrants out of the shadows, help keep families together and crack down on unscrupulous employers who hire and exploit immigrant labor.
Leveling the playing field will not just help immigrants, but also improve the prospects for workers of all backgrounds. In fact, a study by the Center for American Progress and the Immigration Policy Institute found that an earned legalization system would add $1.5 trillion to the economy over the next decade and generate billions in new tax revenues each year.
African Americans and Hispanics share a proud history of struggle against the forces of bigotry and injustice. Our churches and congregations will not be divided by those exploiting a complex challenge for simple political gain. We will not be deterred by those who counsel us to defer the dream of opportunity and fairness for another year or election cycle.
Together we continue the long march for an America that reflects our highest ideals, not our worst fears.
The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of the Rev. Luis Cortés and the Rev. Derrick Harkins.
I savour, result in I found just what I used to be taking a look for. You have ended my 4 day lengthy hunt! God Bless you man. Have a nice day. Bye
Like many apologists, the authors purposely mix immigrants and illegal aliens into one discussion. There is little problem with legal immigration. The problems come from the burden illegal aliens and their anchor babies place on society. There is no upside to illegal aliens using single family homes for boarding houses, fill our schools, loiter in parking lots and drain our social services. Better border enforcement, swift deportation for illegals and mandatory verification of legal status to recieve any govt funded benefit will help to keep the pressure on the illegals and force them out of the country. Don't be fooled by the so-called activist organizations. They have no interest in illegals becoming legal and assimilating into society. They need the illegals to remain dependent on them so they can build political power. The issue is with illegal aliens.
Someone explain to me how a law enforcement officer pulling someone over and asking for their identification is profiling? Do people with a certain look about them get a free ride simply because someone in the political or media world has claimed racism. Is it profiling when anyone gets pulled over for a traffic violation and asked for ID? If that is true then maybe all police forces should be done away with. How safe would you feel then?
A my friend has been living in usa 22 years, from his 18 to 40 years old now ,that is a so great period of life. he work hard and earn poor,bcs he keep hope tomorrow will be better, but ture is worse and worse,there is not a law to let him earn a legal status,what is a human rights
I am not exactly sure what you are getting at, Manmade, however, your friend has been here for 22 years, and there have been a couple of amnesty drives for illegals, a big one in the 80's when presumably your friend would have been here. Economically everyone is affected right now, not just people with no legal status. As far as human rights, well, it sounds like America has given him all of the human rights as he should be given. Following immigration laws of our country is NOT a human rights issue or even a civil rights issue. There ARE laws that he could have followed to become a citizen, he just chose NOT to for 22 years. If he didn't make any money here for 22 years, why not just go home? Surely it would have been easier maybe for him to have been around his family, instead of in a country where he was not making much money anyway? I sure wouldn't want to be away from my family, totally broke. Hopefully, we will get something done about immigration and making it easier for a lot of people, and maybe that will help your friend. However, it doesn't sound like a human rights issue at all....he's been living and working. Just because he hasn't earned a lot of money...well, seems to be the problem for many people nowadays, even citizens!
Well ... Julie from California , by the way you talk about mexicans you were probably in love with one and also probably got dumped right ??? why all the hate , who are you to put yourself in a higher class then the mexicans, following your order of thinking you should get out of the world because it belongs to asia (they have been here wayyy longer then you).please , use the facts , most of those "mexicans" over 90% are only trying to make a living, and have a better life for their families, if more people like you lived among Jesus, well , where would His parents go ???
Choosing not to reward criminal activity is neither racist nor bigoted. Entering a country illegally with forged documentation for the purpose of obtaining unlawful employment makes you a criminal. Not a refugee. And certainly not a hero and just because I don't want my country overrun with illegals hardly makes me a racist. Those that agree with Illegals breaking Americas’ Laws are Anti-American and obviously bigoted against anyone who disagrees with this seemingly popular "give it all away" ATTITUDE. What we have presently is a 3 dollar a gallon milk and then also pay an extra 200 bucks a gallon SILENTLY to subsidize the background illegal subsidized living requirements so it's anything BUT CHEAP LABOR___ from Mexico especially. If they all worked hard as you say there would be little problems but this is not where it stops because each and every ONE ILLEGAL WORKING brings 6 MORE that are entitlement based exploiting our school, medical, and in many cases our social system. California is the practical model. How is that working out? But what is intrinsically wrong if they in almost all cases do not pay for what they take and use? Taxpayers get to step up then. The childbirth should be paid for by tax payers along with WIC, clinic and other entitlements. It’s the American way seemingly and Illegals are harvesting every dollar savings and buying and spending their earnings in other ways and sending some back to Mexico presumably to help others also to be here as well. A friendship circle that keeps taking from us.
I think alot of people here are missing the point on this subject. There are SO many issues surrounding this mexican/hispanic illegal immigration problem besides just "profiling" , which I believe is not the case of what's happening in Arizona. As for you TammyB your statement..(((I've already said that I won't be showing anything to any policeman, as personally, I think they are excluding a whole group of people from following the law. So I think I need to be excluded too, and will yell discrimination if I am asked to prove who I am (which, by the way, IS already a law in Arizona...)))when an officer asks for an id, the next thing he usually asks for is registration and insurance if your driving a car, and thats HIS JOB, NOT DISCRIMINATION. Your refusal to obey what an officer has asked you to do will land you in the back of his squad car, probably wher you belong.
Other issues with these illegal immigrants.....1.Stepping ahead of millions of other immigrants that have been waiting years to become American Citizens, that have PAID there dues/way in the process. What makes Mexican immigrants any different than those who have been waiting???? oh yeah, lack of a properly patrolled boarder. 2. Jobs. American jobs. Yes, like their country the are bringing with them a cheap labor markets that are driving everything down to NOTHING. And stupid idiotic American business owners whom hire this ILLEGAL IMMIGRANTS to save a few bucks are just as Bad as those they hire and should be deported with their illegal mexican employees! 3...Welfare System America's Social Security and Welfare System was NEVER made up to include millions of mothers and babies ( sorry, but these illegal immigrants breed like rabbits, dont have any money to cover the child and mother , and guess who foots the bill? YOU AND I DO..WITH INCREASED TAXES. Why do you think California is SO BROKE, struggling pathetically? Our welfare system(Iv'e heard them call it FREE MONEY) is crashing, There just isnt enough funds to support the structure of so many DEPENDANT people, many of whom are ILLEGAL IMMIGRANTS MOTHERS/BABIES. 4....They are a danger to Americans everywhere. Do you know that more than half of all illegal immigrants DO NOT HAVE A DRIVER'S LICENSE OR INSURANCE?? that means if you get hit by one of them? (and believe me, they all drive, not very good either) your screwed. Or your insurance will have to cover all damages. If your hurt really bad, and dont have health insurance, well....you get the idea. I dont know exactly what the answer is, but for now, keeping illegal immigrants out of America is the best choice for now. Send their President a wonderful Gift...all of his gracious people back home to him. Who knows, maybe the jerk Mexican President is sending them here on purpose, making them send all the money the make back to him.
Well, Julie from California, I was taking the argument to the sarcastic level when I said I wouldn't show an officer my driver's license. And yes, I think I can follow the rest of what he will ask me, being a licensed insurance agent for the last 14 years in the State of Arizona, Phoenix, to be exact. I have always followed the law which is what MY ENTIRE point was, that I think you entirely missed. I HAVE to prove who I am on a daily basis and prove that I belong here so to totally exclude a group of people from following the law just because someone's feelings may get hurt or some discrimination may go on is BS. That was my point. And not making people follow the law is a slap in the face to all of those who do, and to legal immigrants who have spent the time getting here the legal way. As to the rest of your statements, well, I don't agree with many of them, because for me this is a TOTAL LEGAL issue, not a "they take our jobs" and "they breed like rabbits" issue. That's labelling a whole bunch of people who are just here to make a living like they are some sort of trash. I just want them to follow the law...sounds like you actually don't like them.
What peculiar timing, this article comes onto the blogs the same day that Pew reports illegal immigration entry has dropped 67% compared to 2000, for an overall drop in the illegal immigrant population of 8% total.
Yes, but the problem still needs to be fixed before the USA becomes financially stable again (yeah, right!) or we will have the same problem again, with regards to people coming across the border in droves. If they could easily get guest worker permits, then I think many would work here and live in Mexico. Our immigration system sucks, with regards to becoming a citizen (takes way too long), and some don't want to become citizens, they just want to work so they need effective programs for that. I think many immigrants have gone home or to other countries, according to that Pew report, due to the economic situation since 2000. Also, they didn't really break down how many had become legal citizens since 2000 so no longer count as "illegals". I personally know quite a few that have become legal within the last decade. I am sure that can be attributed to part of the drop in illegals.
Wow. Strange and shocking alliances. Personally the blond hair and blue eyes arguement makes no real sence. In issues such as this the only color that matters is green. If a busload of " children of the corn" came to town and radically undercut everyone in town for jobs and services then I feel the same anger would be present. I do not think the local mechanic will come home and tell his wife and kids that he lost his job because the new family moved in and is charging 50% less.... But it's ok because they have blonde hair and blue eyes. No, it is silly to think that the color of the skin is a major issue. At the end of the day, it is because he is out of work.
To be sure, you have a point. In hard economic times, immigration always comes into play. And for a reason. If citizens cannot find jobs, they definitely don't want to compete with others who aren't citizens, and especially those who didn't even follow the law in the first place and who are flying under the radar. That's the reason we have immigration laws in the first place, for socio-economic reasons and health reasons (so we won't get all of their colds...haha!). So I am sure the economic situation is influencing opinions on immigration right now. Also, in Arizona, there are human traffickers, kidnappers and drug cartels already taking over the southern most part of the state. Lots of people die in the desert every year trying to get into the USA for jobs. I personally don't want to see that anymore. I just want people to come here legally. And we should fix the system so the hard-working people who are honest get here easier, and the bad ones don't!
While I agree with this article, Mexico needs to be held accountable for their part in this problem. NAFTA was supposed to help bring jobs to Mexico but corruption is keeping Mexico from advancing. We do need immigration reform (immediately!) that allows honest people to come to our country legally, doesn't grant amnesty to illegals already here (but a process for gaining citizenship is provided) and keeps the criminal element out. People wouldn't leave their home if their own country was a good place to live (jobs and security). So reform needs to also address the bigger problem in Mexico.
I agree with you, but the current administration has already shown that they will let the Mexican president stand in our Senate and tell us what big pieces of crap we are because we don't do more for them. Meanwhile, he's as corrupt as the former presidents, as nothing really is being done to the drug cartels. They continue to let them rule their country and kill decent law abiding Mexicans. El Presidente hasn't been effective at all, and so anytime immigration is brought up, he doesn't want to cooperate on that front either. It's easier for him to ignore it, and ship everyone here, so they can send back 80% of their pay in remittances. Remittances contribute to over 60% of Mexico's GDP. However, Mexico has so many resources that if the President of Mexico was really trying to help his people, he would advance some avenues for jobs for his fellow countrymen.
Thanks, religious "leaders", for making sanctimonious arguments for why we should do things that will be disastrous to our budgetary problems and punitive in their effects on law abiding but relatively less skilled Americans. We cannot afford to pay for massive social services and educational measures for millions of unskilled poor people from south of the border. Our schools are already overwhelmed with low-performing non-English speaking kids who are not going to help us maintain our competitiveness with China etc in the new high tech world.
What is wrong with you people that you are not capable of thinking pragmatically? Oh I forgot, you are hoping that the immigrants will be more religious than the legal US population, and will help fill the dwindling attendance at your services. So you are being pragmatic–it's just that you are looking out for yourselves (while putting a bogus altruistic face on it).
Why don't you care about the Law? Do you think that because someone is poor, they have the right to disregard the law? WHy don't you care about the millions of African-Americans who have not done well in school and rely on getting jobs like meat-packer and gardener that can feed their families? What the heck is wrong with you?
Do you actually think immigrant want to compete with the so called jobs most American are using as an excuse for denying immigration reform,Majority of them are hardworking people that presently don't depend on the government for any aids(tax payer money) of any kind but working themselves out, going to schools and raising family. They just want to come out and not be exploited not by Americans but majorly their own kinsmen that use the so called illegality status of the undocumented workers to exploit them.Its a pride to be an American citizen , its a right that's worthy to be earn but do we all think they really want immigration reform all in the name of competing with natural born citizen who their forefather were immigrant before, they just want to come out of the closet and know they are safe and wont be exploited . IMMIGRATION REFORM DOES NOT MEAN GRANTING THE UNLAWFUL ! CITIZENSHIP RIGHTS BUT IT MEANS MAKING CHANGES TOWARD A BETTER TOMORROW
Pete, if there were not employers, there would not be a immigration problem.
I certainly agree that would help with immigration, but not solve the problem.
Immigration is people crossing a country's borders for whatever reason. If it is done against the laws of the destination country, then the borders are not secure. When are the borders of any country ever secure?
Refugees can enter illegally. Do you think they care whether or not they can get a job? They might be better at taking what they need thanks to their previous lives.
Most illegals are sending money back to their families. If the jobs are not here, they will have no reason to trespass. Would you prefer we do nothing? It has worked SO well since the 1986 Amnesty, hasn't it? Walls can be climbed, tunnels can be dug. Punish employers, and there will be no use for tunnels or walls.
You do have a point. These employers are only hiring illegals because they're too cheap to hire somebody from the legal workforce, right? They also get to avoid paying into unemployment insurance, and obeying workplace safety standards. They really shouldn't be able to get away with that.
Good point, but I was trying to avoid it because jobs are scarce already. Punishing employers should be a part of any comprehensive reform, but the list of loopholes is very long. Why couldn't we make it illegal for them to send money to their families? Or just declare war on Mexico, take it over, and add a few stars to our flag?
The world is a big place but getting smaller every day. Whatever solution we come up with better work or everyone will be sitting in the street and wondering what time the soup kitchen opens.
Good point. Every time I see those "walls" that look like ladders, I just want to pull my hair out. Who came up with those?
Every time I see those "walls" that look like ladders, I just want to pull my hair out. Who came up with those?
Moments after signing Arizona's tough new immigration law in April, Gov. Jan Brewer was asked WHAT A ILLEGAL IMMIGRANT LOOKS LIKE????
The question, posed during a news conference that was broadcast live on TV, seemed to catch Brewer off guard. After a long pause, she said, "I DON'T KNOW WHAT A ILLEGAL IMMIGRANT LOOKS LIKE. I can tell you that there are people in Arizona that ASS-U-ME they know what an illegal immigrant looks like. I DON'T KNOW IF THEY KNOW THAT FOR A FACT OR NOT."
Her answer cut to the very heart of the controversy surrounding the law, which takes effect July 29. Although there are many people who assume they know what an illegal immigrant looks like, the fact is, IT IS IMPOSSIBLE to tell a person's immigration status by appearance, experts say.
So despite assurances to the contrary, some civil-rights groups and others fear that enforcement of the law will lead to racial profiling. Several lawsuits already raise worries of civil-rights violations, and a group of Arizona law professors concluded the law authorizes enforcement based on ethnicity. That, they allege, would mean officers would end up harassing and possibly detaining people who aren't illegal immigrants.
The vast majority of illegal immigrants are Hispanic. But most Hispanics in Arizona are not illegal immigrants – they are legal residents or U.S. citizens, many with roots dating back generations.
Read more: http://www.azcentral.com/arizonarepublic/news/articles/2010/07/18/20100718illegal-immigration-profiling.html#ixzz0u2wY1a1d
cut and paste.
You have to take off your shoes, show all kinds of ID, get patted down, open up your suitcases, prove who you are anytime you fly state to state even. Requiring people to show ID to prove they are here legally is not really asking too much. I understand the profiling issue, however, there are all kinds of profiling that no one thinks anything about (try being a biker, young man of any color out late at night, any race being in a predominantly other races' neighborhood, people coming out of bars, anybody on any flight here in the US). I don't want anyone profiled either, however, what most people that don't live here in Arizona don't realize is there is a more complex issue and more complex problems with illegal immigration that need to be fixed. This law was a call to the feds to do their job. If other groups start putting pressure on them, as well, then perhaps they will fix the immigration system, which is grossly lengthy and ineffective (as we have seen with an estimated 450,000 illegals currently living in Arizona) once and for all!
Yes, and the new Arizona law does discriminate.
Do you think the police are going to stop a lot of blonde haired, blue eyed people for an "infraction", just to make sure they are citizens?
Jan Brewer and the Republicans running Arizona are bigots. It is very unlikely, but I hope they are voted out of office.
@ David Johnson...Well, it doesn't discriminate as they took out those major portions and even though we are appealing it, because the Feds have taken a stance it probably won't be reinstated. As to the law discriminating, well, to be honest, if someone is stopped now, and cannot produce some sort of ID, then they can be jailed and if they are here illegally, they can still be deported. The law was redundant, but it also caused quite a stir with the Feds as it pretty much was a slap in the face regarding what should be their job and what isn't. And as I've said before, if Arizona bordered on a place where there was a lot of blonde haired, blue eyed people, that were here illegally, we would stop them as well. However, I bet you anything, that if that were the case, NO ONE would really care. It's because it is the Hispanic community, which is a minority. I've already said that I won't be showing anything to any policeman, as personally, I think they are excluding a whole group of people from following the law. So I think I need to be excluded too, and will yell discrimination if I am asked to prove who I am (which, by the way, IS already a law in Arizona...if you are out and about, even walking, EVERYONE must show their ID if asked by police...and I HAVE BEEN asked. Discrimination? Nope...because I am the wrong color to be discriminated against). I think if an entire group of people are okayed by the Feds to ignore the law, then I want on that bandwagon too! Whoo hoo!
I think you and I are mostly on the same page. Cheers!
If we would cut our own grass, do our own landscaping, pick our own vegetables/fruit, cook our own food, clean our own laundary, care for own kids and clean our homes and churches/temples ourselves, there would be no need for Mexican, Haitian, Irish, Italian and/or Asian "slaves" and therefore there would be no illegal immigration.
Wow. I've ready some of the horrible things that you've put before, but that is one of the most racist things i've seen. I'm not sure why you get on this blog. It easy to see that you just want to stir things up and try and make people mad, but if you don't have relgious affiliations why get on? I'm a cubs fan and i hate the cardinals, but i don't get on cardinal forums and talk junk. I'm sorry that you have these views and i hope that somehow something will help change your mind.
quite the contrary, illegal immigrants are corporate america's slave labor. and you know it is true.
Reality kind of has a point... (wow that feels weird to say)... We have to acknowledge the role immigrant labor plays in this country. They are sorely being taken advantage of by being given the lowliest jobs for menial pay. But I doubt us doing our own "dirty work" is the solution to the illegal immigrant issue. I think the first step is to specify what we mean when we say "illegals". I think people really mean "Mexicans". I highly doubt we are focusing on Canadian illegals that we are hunting down to send them back across the border. No one in Arizona is asking about the Swedish illegals or the Australian ones. But instead of actually saying that this is an issue we have with Mexico, instead they want to enact a law that targets hispanics. Let's get the vocabulary right and then we can start tackling the problem. If not, we just end up focusing on the wrong target and getting nothing done.
Asking that people first define their terms is taboo here. Very few will come to the table if they can't be va-gue or intemperate.
I cut my own grass, raised my 6 children, do my own housework, wash my car myself, etc. I live in Arizona and have seen the effects of illegal immigration (several deaths in the desert of men, women and children), the criminal element moving in due to ease of crossing our borders, and human trafficking that results in several hundred deaths per year. The Arizona law might have been misguided but it did what I believe was the intent...to have the federal government take this problem seriously, instead of ignoring it like they have for the last 30 years. Perhaps the religious leaders can come together to put pressure on the feds so they will actually wake up and pass comprehensive immigration reform. I am all for people coming here, just want them to do this legally.
@ Frogist....If Arizona bordered Sweden and had 450,000 illegals from Sweden living here (the good along with the bad), we would want them to try to become citizens as well. I don't have a problem with Mexicans, being a native Arizonan, growing up in towns that were predominantly Mexican, going to school where most of my friends were Mexicans. What I do have a problem with is human trafficking, deaths in the desert, drug cartels getting closer and closer, ineffective immigration laws, and a group of people being excluded from following the law. I am tired of being called a Nazi or a racist because I live in Arizona. There are some major problems with immigration here and in Texas, and California. People can ignore it all they want, but it doesn't mean it doesn't exist, or that all people that are for immigration law are bigoted redneck nazi types.
I think Reality is speaking reality. If the illegal immigrants didn't find work here, they wouldn't come. An American gardner charges me $100 to spruce up the place. I can get it done for $50, by the illegal mexican at Home Depot. Hmm...
You asked, "if you don't have relgious affiliations why get on?"
Because I can. Do you think what you have to say, is more important than what I have to say, just because you believe in Jesus?
There was no note on the door, that said only Christians can comment here.
this blog is open and free to everyone. I never said that you had to have faith or religion, but why would you come onto a blog that is about faith and religion? I'm assuing it is just to be try and make people mad. Again, i care nothing for the St. Louis cardinals, so i don't get on their fan forums. Making people mad over the internet is silly. Its like the guy who gets mad at someone else and tells his friend "hold me back"
And why does the guy at Home Depot have to be "mexican". How do you know he is not from El Salvador, or an employed american who happens to be Latino. Heck people around here think the Cherokee are "mexican."
The CNN Belief Blog covers the faith angles of the day's biggest stories, from breaking news to politics to entertainment, fostering a global conversation about the role of religion and belief in readers' lives. It's edited by CNN's Daniel Burke with contributions from Eric Marrapodi and CNN's worldwide news gathering team.