Refugees, Immigrants, and Visitors to the United States of America
United Methodists are called to be faithful to God and to God's actions in the world. As United Methodists we believe that God is the parent of all—that all people are created in God's image and that it is the right of all people to have a full and abundant life. We believe that the resources of creation are God's gift for all people. We believe that as people of God we need to be open to others and welcome especially the sojourners in our midst.
The United States of America prides itself as being open to ethnic diversity. However, United States citizens have not always held to that ideal. While some people have been welcomed, others have remained in the outskirts of U.S. cultural core and fabric. Furthermore, the reality is that with time U.S. borders have been getting narrower and often a spirit of hostility and racism toward the sojourners in the U.S.—refugees, immigrants, and visitors—has grown to the point of rejection and discrimination.
A glaring example of discrimination and injustice is the denial of entry visas to legitimate invitees from around the world, in particular the delegates to the 2004 General Conference coming from the Central Conferences in Africa and the Philippines. These are delegates of color whose denial of entry by the U.S government to a legitimate event such as the General Conference—which is well announced and scheduled—is unacceptable and unconscionable.
The tragic events of September 11, 2001, rather than helping U.S. citizens become more open and welcoming to the people who seek relief from economic and political pressures as well as from hunger and war in their countries, have blurred their vision and have created a distorted concept of national identity. Refugees, immigrants, and visitors from Africa, Asia, Latin America, and very specially the Middle East are being unjustly harassed and persecuted. In the name of the law, refugees and immigrant families are being separated, and many persons are being sent back to their countries disregarding the political, emotional, physical, and spiritual consequences of such action. There is fear and anguish in the sojourners in our midst. There is mistrust and hostility toward the sojourners in our midst. Visitors' visas to enter the United State have become increasingly difficult and expensive to obtain.
The United Methodist Church's position has been clear on the issue of immigration, including those who while working in the U.S. and making their contribution do not have the needed documents for residence. The 2000 General Conference adopted a resolution that specifically charged The United Methodist Church to declare the "Illegal Immigration Reform and Immigrant Resolution Act" evil and unjust and to call the United States government to accountability and insist upon changes and possible abolition of the 1996 Immigration law, the continued existence of a unified Immigration and Naturalization Service, rather than a division into administrative and enforcement prosecutorial branches, and the development of an amnesty program for undocumented persons (Resolution #118, "Opposition to the Illegal Immigration, Reform and Immigrant Resolution Act").
WHEREAS, the immigrant and refugee community, as well as, from Africa, Asia, Latin America, and the Pacific are currently suffering the effects of discriminatory immigration policies. We therefore call The United Methodist Church;
1. to affirm and remind the church through the Council of Bishops, United Methodist Communications and the General Board of Church and Society, the position of The United Methodist Church regarding the rights of refugees, immigrants, and undocumented persons to seek a better life in the United States;
2. to affirm and remind the President of the United States of America, the U.S. Congress, and other government officials of The United Methodist Church's position on immigration as described in the Resolution on Immigration (Resolution #118) adopted by the 2000 General Conference and on this resolution;
3. to promote and distribute both resolutions through the Council of Bishops, United Methodist Communications, and the General Board of Church and Society;
4. to call local churches to seek ways to welcome, assist, and empower the refugee, immigrant, visitors, and undocumented persons in their neighborhood, and to denounce the persecution of the sojourner in the U.S. as prejudicial and racist;
5. to request the General Board of Church and Society to work for public policy that is hospitable to visitors to the United States in every step of entry and visit to the U.S. from visa application to the time while they are enroute to and are accepted entry into the United States;
6. to request that immediately upon adoption by the General Conference, the Secretary of the General Conference will send a copy of this resolution to the President of the United States, the Speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives, the President of the U.S. Senate, and the U.S. Secretary of State.
See Social Principles, ¶ 162.
From The Book of Resolutions of The United Methodist Church — 2004. Copyright © 2004 by The United Methodist Publishing House. Used by permission.