Intermountain Yearly Meeting met in June 2010. Friends in this area of the country are especially concerned about immigration issues as we sit astride the border with Mexico and many Mexican immigrants enter through our states. The attached Minute of Concern was passed by the yearly meeting. We are hoping to distribute this minute widely to help inform Friends who may not be so familiar with the situation with respect to immigration, of our strong opposition to unjust immigration laws and the criminalization of immigration.
In Peace and love,
Claire O. Leonard, clerk Intermountain Yearly Meeting
As a faith community committed to welcoming the stranger, we are dismayed and saddened by the failure to find a way forward to craft an immigration system that respects the fundamental rights and dignity of all. We recognize that inaction at the national level has created a vacuum into which states have stepped to create their own immigration laws.
As Friends, we believe that there is that of God in everyone, regardless of citizenship or legal status. Our testimony of community challenges us to live with all of our neighbors in a way that encourages trust, love, and security. Our testimony of equality leads us to value each person as an individual and to respect the human rights and dignity of all persons. Our testimony of peace guides us to take nonviolent action to resolve conflicts in a way that brings us together and promotes justice.
Arizona Senate Bill 1070 and similar proposed legislation in other states divides our communities and criminalizes immigrants. These kinds of unjust laws create a climate of fear for those whose area of residence, line of work, complexion, spoken language, or accent is deemed suspicious, even if they are citizens or legal foreign residents or visitors. When state legislation is passed that compels people to hide their identity from authorities, they must live in fear that they will be separated from their families, that they will become victims of crime, that they and their children will not receive an education, and that they will lose their livelihoods and their homes.
We bear witness to our friends and neighbors in our community who suffer division of their families, exploitation in the workplace, and the daily fear of deportation. We bear witness to the thousands of deaths on the border and the destruction of border communities and the environment. The estimated 12 million persons living and working in the United States without papers are essential parts of our communities and economy, yet the system for regularizing their status is woefully insufficient. Criminalizing immigrants and those who care for them, as in Arizona Senate Bill 1070, does not address the real challenges our country faces with immigration reform and resolution of the humanitarian crisis that results from the broken system.
We, as people of faith, are called not only to resist unjust laws and to work to change them, but to take the initiative to act in accordance with higher laws. We call upon Friends everywhere to urge our elected representatives to immediate action on humane immigration reform. We call upon ourselves to act with integrity in response to these challenges and we rededicate ourselves to loving our neighbors, to doing justice, and to walking humbly in the spirit of love.