Central Baptist Church's affiliation with the Philadelphia New Sanctuary Movement is a renewal of CBC's prophetic engagement in the original Sanctuary Movement, declared in a congregational vote in 1984. This reaffirmation today of our historic commitment is grounded in our congregation's vision of “justice rooted in spirituality” and “making a difference in community.”-Congregational Meeting April 25th, 2010.

Friday, April 8, 2011

Ten Plagues Facing Immigrant Populations

At an immigration-focused seder at Mishkan Shalom on April 1, attended by many of the New Santuary Movement affiliated congregations, we read out loud the ten 'new' plagues afflicting immigrant populations. Here they are as presented by the staff at Mishkan. "Today many politicians are playing G-d and imposing their own plagues on immigrants, moving them farther and farther away from any taste of freedom or dignity. Today’s immigrants are no different from the millions of Jewish immigrants in days past – they are looking for safety and a better life for their families. These are the new plagues:

1. Immigrants are called 'criminal aliens' even though immigrant crime rates are lower then non-immigrant crime rates. In the early 1900’s, Jewish immigrants were also scapegoated for urban crime.

2. The 1996 immigration laws cut off pathways to legalize for vast numbers of immigrants. Many hard working people want to legalize but have NO options to do so. Deportations have skyrocketed – 400,000 people were deported in 2009 alone.

3. Arizona-style immigration legislation is being introduced in Pennsylvania to encourage reporting 'reasonably suspected' individuals. 'Love your neighbor' is being changed to report on your neighbor.

4. Many refugees in life-threatening danger cannot get refugee status, because they cannot prove they were personally singled out for persecution according to the details of these restrictive laws.

5. Immigration policies are ripping apart families. Undocumented parents who are picked up for minor infractions or 'caught working' are getting deported forcing some to abandon their children.

6. Undocumented immigrants fear deportation and become vulnerable to hate crimes and other crimes because they won’t go to the police.

7. There are no exceptions for those brought here as children. Even if the United States is the only country they know, because the DREAM Act failed, they are just as vulnerable to deportation.

8. A politically charged initiative is developing that would hurt children by attempting to deny citizenship to those born in the U.S.A. to undocumented parents.

9. Immigrants are subject to economic exploitation and marginalization. Employers pay low wages and even legal immigrants are not eligible for food stamps and other safety-net benefits.

10. Undocumented immigrants are called 'illegals' or 'alien invaders.' This language disregards the Torah’s teaching that there is a Divine spark in each person and we are all made b’tzelem Elo-him, in God’s image."

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