Episcopal Bishop of the Central Gulf Coast Issues Immigration Statement

“Jesus wept.” (St John 11:35) As a child I learned that “Jesus wept” was the shortest sentence in the Gospels. I grew to understand that it is also one of the most powerful. I wept not long ago when I learned that the State of Alabama (the lower part of which is within my episcopal jurisdiction) passed legislation that would put me in violation involuntarily with State law because of my faith and religious convictions. With the implementation of HB56, we face one state’s edict to limit assistance and ministry only to those who can produce certain documentation.

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Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, Episcopal Church (TEC), Ethics / Moral Theology, Immigration, Law & Legal Issues, Pastoral Theology, Politics in General, Religion & Culture, State Government, TEC Bishops, Theology

18 comments on “Episcopal Bishop of the Central Gulf Coast Issues Immigration Statement

  1. Archer_of_the_Forest says:

    To what section of the bill is he referring?

  2. Jeremy Bonner says:

    Section 7(e) states as follows:

    [i]Verification of lawful presence in the United States shall [b]not[/b] be required for any of the following:

    (1) For primary or secondary school education, and state or local public benefits that are listed in 8 U.S.C. § 1621(b).

    (2) For obtaining health care items and services that are necessary for the treatment of an emergency medical condition of the person involved and are not related to an organ transplant procedure.

    (3) For short term, noncash, in kind emergency disaster relief.

    (4) For public health assistance for immunizations with respect to immunizable diseases, for the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children, and for testing and treatment of symptoms of communicable diseases, whether or not such symptoms are caused by a communicable disease.

    (5) For programs, services, or assistance, such as soup kitchens, crisis counseling and intervention, and short-term shelter specified by federal law or regulation that satisfy all of the following:

    a. Deliver in-kind services at the community level, including services through public or private nonprofit agencies.

    b. Do not condition the provision of assistance, the amount of assistance provided, or the cost of assistance provided on the income or resources of the individual recipient.

    c. Are necessary for the protection of life or safety.

    (6) For prenatal care.

    (7) For child protective services and adult protective services and domestic violence services workers.[/i]

    On the face of it, most church assistance programs are covered by the provisions of (5).

  3. Uh Clint says:

    I think that the bishop is very much mistaken in his interpretation of this law. In reading through it, the only restrictions which are mentioned regarding identification of people receiving aid apply to government (state or local) entities; I can’t find anything that says churches have to ID those that they serve with food pantries, meal programs, etc.

    It is true that churches will have to enroll in the E-Verify system, and check the status of their employees. But that shouldn’t be considered significant or a burden; in the wake of all the clergy abuse scandals, churches should already be running criminal background checks on employees (some insurance companies require it!) and E-Verify can hardly be said to be more intrusive than that.

  4. Bart Hall (Kansas, USA) says:

    The best service one can render to illegals from Mexico — and there are a non-trivial number from elsewhere, for example Ecuador — is to pay their bus fare back to their hometown.

    Then (important) stay in contact and assist that person in becoming a [b]legal[/b] immigrant to the US, even to the point of finding a family or business willing to sponsor them.

    Do [i]not[/i] assist people in breaking our laws, and do [i]NOT[/i] attempt to convince yourself that said laws are “unjust” and therefore validate becoming what is in fact an accessory to a crime.

    I have many Mexican customers in my business (because I speak the language very fluently) and the only legal Mexicans with any sympathy at all for the illegals are those married to an illegal. The rest would like to see every last one of ’em deported, oh, about a week ago, because they undercut the employment opportunities and compensation of those who followed the rules.

  5. Cennydd13 says:

    BINGO, Bart!

  6. NoVA Scout says:

    Fair enough, No. 4., but the process of becoming a legal immigrant is hopelessly complex and slow moving, whether applied to a doctor, chemist or engineer from India or a fruit picker from Mexico. We would do well to significantly revise our procedures to make legal immigration a more realistic and attractive option. One of the reason the walls and fences are so ineffectual is because the gates are in such a ridiculously bad state. It’s in the national interest to make immigration as friendly and inviting a process as it can be, consistent with security concerns. We’re far from where we should be on that score.

  7. A Senior Priest says:

    I find it most strange that he would by self-admission actually weep over this. It makes me wonder about his mental stability. But then, he could just be lying for melodramatic effect.

  8. RMBruton says:

    NoVA Scout,
    As a legal immigrant I have to agree, it is generally very complex, takes quite some time and far too often one has to deal with functionaries and bureaucrats who are indeed not very friendly, regardless your country of origin. Liberalism is not the answer; common sense is. There are many cradle citizens who are not worthy of their birth-rite. At times I think that the Founding Fathers might have made provision for exiling them or that all citizens should pass some examination to earn full citizenship.

  9. Cennydd13 says:

    RMBruton, I often find myself thinking that it’s recent immigrants who so often have become the best citizens, and then I ask myself how we judge who are the best. I don’t think anyone has the final answer to that question, do you? Perhaps they’re the ones who most appreciate what we have in this country of ours, compared to what they left behind, or perhaps it’s the opportunities they’ve found here.

  10. libraryjim says:

    I agree that the path to legal immigration needs to be revised.
    With the Bishop, however, I wonder if he has truly seen the ‘dark side’ of these illegals for whom he is advocating. I recently heard a State Senator from a largely rural district stating how beneficial to the local ag community illegals (he used the term “undocumented”) are, but then, he’s only seen the rural picture where these people work, but again, totally ignored the exploitation they endure by the farm owners (modern US version of slavery?). Nor has he seen the URBAN city version of the illegal invasion.

    Has this bishop visited the cities ravaged by the illegals who practice drug dealing, prostitution/sex trade, ‘baby mills’ for anchor babies, gangs, criminals, welfare fraud, etc.? Let him go there first before speaking about how he weeps over laws designed to curtail Illegal Immigration.

    As for the fence, only 5% has been [url=http://nation.foxnews.com/border-fence/2011/05/10/obama-claims-border-fence-basically-complete-its-only-5-finished]completed[/url] to date, which comprises about 37 miles of the legislated 700 mile border fence.

  11. Sick & Tired of Nuance says:

    A couple of points here…

    My step-mother is from the Phillipines and is in the process of becoming a US citizen. Why should she be in line [i]behind[/i] all the criminals? Why should our family have to pay the fees involved in the process, jump through all the hoops, etc. while criminals are allowed to just bypass all that and they have the support of the Bishop?

    With black unemployment in Alabama running at about 20%, where is the Bishop’s compassion for his neighbors? Why does he favor criminals over his native born brothers? Is this racism? Unemployment in Mexico is running at only about 5.6%…so why the backhanded slap to the workers of Alabama (especially those most vulnerable)?

    Does the Bishop understand that aiding illegal aliens is a federal crime? Encouraging others to break the law and aid illegal aliens is also a crime. Helping illegal aliens to get a job is a crime. It is also immoral to help a criminal alien take a job from a law abiding citizen.

    Illegal aliens either violate our tax laws by not paying taxes, or they steal an identity and pay the taxes. Either way, they are committing felonies. Why does a leader in the Church advocate felonious activity?

    This is all so very wrong, so very corrupt, and so very sinful!

    People really need to read [b]The Immigration Crisis: Immigrants, Aliens, and the Bible[/b] by Dr. Hoffmeier. He goes through the Scriptures and outine the Biblical distinctions between the [i]ger[/i] (legal immigrants) and the [i]nekhar[/i] and [i]zar[/i] (temporary and/or illegal migrants).

    The Bible makes clear distinctions between these different classes of people and the treatment they are to receive. Where is the Bishop’s support in Scripture for breaking the just and Biblically valid laws concerning immigration and where does Scripture support his support for illegal activity? Is the Bishop an anarchist? Is the Bishop antinomian? His superficial Scripture pretexts are wholly lacking…and his is the responsibility to make a Biblical case for supporting illegal activity. Shame!

    The Law:
    Federal Immigration and Nationality Act
    Section 8 USC 1324(a)(1)(A)(iv)(b)(iii)

    “Any person who . . . encourages or induces an alien to . . . reside . . . knowing or in reckless disregard of the fact that such . . . residence is . . . in violation of law, shall be punished as provided . . . for each alien in respect to whom such a violation occurs . . . fined under title 18 . . . imprisoned not more than 5 years, or both.”

    Section 274 felonies under the federal Immigration and Nationality Act, INA 274A(a)(1)(A):

    A person (including a group of persons, business, organization, or local government) commits a federal felony when she or he:

    * assists an alien s/he should reasonably know is illegally in the U.S. or who lacks employment authorization, by transporting, sheltering, or assisting him or her to obtain employment, or

    * encourages that alien to remain in the U.S. by referring him or her to an employer or by acting as employer or agent for an employer in any way, or

    * knowingly assists illegal aliens due to personal convictions.

    Penalties upon conviction include criminal fines, imprisonment, and forfeiture of vehicles and real property used to commit the crime. Anyone employing or contracting with an illegal alien without verifying his or her work authorization status is guilty of a misdemeanor. Aliens and employers violating immigration laws are subject to arrest, detention, and seizure of their vehicles or property. In addition, individuals or entities who engage in racketeering enterprises that commit (or conspire to commit) immigration-related felonies are subject to private civil suits for treble damages and injunctive relief.

    Recruitment and Employment of Illegal Aliens

    It is unlawful to hire an alien, to recruit an alien, or to refer an alien for a fee, knowing the alien is unauthorized to work in the United States. It is equally unlawful to continue to employ an alien knowing that the alien is unauthorized to work. Employers may give preference in recruitment and hiring to a U.S. citizen over an alien with work authorization only where the U.S. citizen is equally or better qualified. It is unlawful to hire an individual for employment in the United States without complying with employment eligibility verification requirements. Requirements include examination of identity documents and completion of Form I-9 for every employee hired. Employers must retain all I-9s, and, with three days’ advance notice, the forms must be made available for inspection. Employment includes any service or labor performed for any type of remuneration within the United States, with the exception of sporadic domestic service by an individual in a private home. Day laborers or other casual workers engaged in any compensated activity (with the above exception) are employees for purposes of immigration law. An employer includes an agent or anyone acting directly or indirectly in the interest of the employer. For purposes of verfication of authorization to work, employer also means an independent contractor, or a contractor other than the person using the alien labor. The use of temporary or short-term contracts cannot be used to circumvent the employment authorization verification requirements. If employment is to be for less than the usual three days allowed for completing the I-9 Form requirement, the form must be completed immediately at the time of hire.

    An employer has constructive knowledge that an employee is an illegal unauthorized worker if a reasonable person would infer it from the facts. Constructive knowledge constituting a violation of federal law has been found where (1) the I-9 employment eligibility form has not been properly completed, including supporting documentation, (2) the employer has learned from other individuals, media reports, or any source of information available to the employer that the alien is unauthorized to work, or (3) the employer acts with reckless disregard for the legal consequences of permitting a third party to provide or introduce an illegal alien into the employer’s work force. Knowledge cannot be inferred solely on the basis of an individual’s accent or foreign appearance.

    Actual specific knowledge is not required. For example, a newspaper article stating that ballrooms depend on an illegal alien work force of dance hostesses was held by the courts to be a reasonable ground for suspicion that unlawful conduct had occurred.

    IT IS ILLEGAL FOR NONPROFIT OR RELIGIOUS ORGANIZATIONS to knowingly assist an employer to violate employment sanctions, REGARDLESS OF CLAIMS THAT THEIR CONVICTIONS REQUIRE THEM TO ASSIST ALIENS. Harboring or aiding illegal aliens is not protected by the First Amendment. It is a felony to establish a commercial enterprise for the purpose of evading any provision of federal immigration law. Violators may be fined or imprisoned for up to five years.

    Encouraging and Harboring Illegal Aliens

    It is a violation of law for any person to conceal, harbor, or shield from detection in any place, including any building or means of transportation, any alien who is in the United States in violation of law. HARBORING MEANS ANY CONDUCT THAT TENDS TO SUBSTANTIALLY FACILITATE AN ALIEN TO REMAIN IN THE U.S. ILLEGALLY. The sheltering need not be clandestine, and harboring covers aliens arrested outdoors, as well as in a building. This provision includes harboring an alien who entered the U.S. legally but has since lost his legal status.

    An employer can be convicted of the felony of harboring illegal aliens who are his employees if he takes actions in reckless disregard of their illegal status, such as ordering them to obtain false documents, altering records, obstructing INS inspections, or taking other actions that facilitate the alien’s illegal employment. Any person who within any 12-month period hires ten or more individuals with actual knowledge that they are illegal aliens or unauthorized workers is guilty of felony harboring. It is also a felony to encourage or induce an alien to come to or reside in the U.S. knowing or recklessly disregarding the fact that the alien’s entry or residence is in violation of the law. This crime applies to any person, rather than just employers of illegal aliens. Courts have ruled that “encouraging” includes counseling illegal aliens to continue working in the U.S. or assisting them to complete applications with false statements or obvious errors. The fact that the alien is a refugee fleeing persecution is not a defense to this felony, since U.S. law and the UN Protocol on Refugees both require that a refugee must report to immigration authorities without delay upon entry to the U.S.

    The penalty for felony harboring is a fine and imprisonment for up to five years. The penalty for felony alien smuggling is a fine and up to ten years’ imprisonment. Where the crime causes serious bodily injury or places the life of any person in jeopardy, the penalty is a fine and up to twenty years’ imprisonment. If the criminal smuggling or harboring results in the death of any person, the penalty can include life imprisonment. Convictions for aiding, abetting, or conspiracy to commit alien smuggling or harboring, carry the same penalties. Courts can impose consecutive prison sentences for each alien smuggled or harbored. A court may order a convicted smuggler to pay restitution if the alien smuggled qualifies as a victim under the Victim and Witness Protection Act. Conspiracy to commit crimes of sheltering, harboring, or employing illegal aliens is a separate federal offense punishable by a fine of up to $10,000 or five years’ imprisonment.

  12. Br. Michael says:

    TEC like the current administration feels that obeying the law (or its own Canons) are for the little people, not those who are enlightened.

  13. bettcee says:

    Bart Hall, post 4,
    When you said [i]”The best service one can render to illegals from Mexico—and there are a non-trivial number from elsewhere, for example Ecuador—is to pay their bus fare back to their hometown”[/i] I had to agree.
    But I do not agree that we should then help them become legal immigrants when they have a homeland that could be made as free and prosperous as the United States if their people would devote their time and energy to creating a free and prosperous country for all Mexicans.
    It seems to me that running away from home to a more prosperous place only benefits the individual but staying home and working for the freedom and prosperity of everyone in your own country is a more admirable goal.

  14. farstrider+ says:

    [blockquote]But I do not agree that we should then help them become legal immigrants when they have a homeland that could be made as free and prosperous as the United States if their people would devote their time and energy to creating a free and prosperous country for all Mexicans… It seems to me that running away from home to a more prosperous place only benefits the individual but staying home and working for the freedom and prosperity of everyone in your own country is a more admirable goal.[/blockquote]

    You’ve managed to encapsulate the primary reason that people immigrated to the United States, and before that “the Colonies,” albeit in a negative light…

  15. Teatime2 says:

    Why on earth would we send them back only to assist them step-by-step in coming back? Do you have any clue how much that would cost, and the liability that would be created? Are we really that desperate for workers? The unemployment rate doesn’t indicate that we are.

    Moreover, we have more than a dozen “guest worker” programs that assist people in coming here to work legally. That would be the perfect first step for them if they want to eventually become legal citizens. I guess the reason they don’t do it is because coming on a valid work permit probably means they have to pay taxes and their presence is known. It’s easier and cheaper to sneak across the Border and “disappear.”

  16. NoVA Scout says:

    No. 13, a lot of our ancestors “ran away” from their homelands rather than staying put to make them better places. Immigration is essentially a democratic, capitalist, market-driven reaction to dysfunctional governments and economies.

  17. bettcee says:

    Post 16, It is commendable that the United States has in the past offered refuge to people who, often at great risk, have escaped oppressive governments which imposed religious, racial and political persecution upon their people. We should still be there for those who need to escape oppression and seek to become naturalized citizens.
    But, it seems to me that we should consider (as a practical matter) how long the government of the United States can remain “functional” if it offers refuge to the huge amount people (including drug dealers and terrorists who have caused their native countries to become “dysfunctional“) who wish to leave their native country and simply walk or drive across the border, in order to search for a more lucrative location.

  18. NoVA Scout says:

    I was responding to your idea that people should stay put and not move when they find themselves in hopeless economic and political situations, Bettcee. I disagree. They should move. That the US has broken immigration system and lacks political competence to fix it is a matter of utmost danger for the welfare of this country. We need to be competitive for immigrants at all skill levels. But, having watched Congress wallow around in the debt ceiling debacle, a self-imposed crisis that threatens all of out well-being, there is little reason, past or present, to believe our political system can reasonable address the more complex and demanding issue of reforming the immigration system to make it serve our national economic interests in the 21st Century.