Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Our Children Volunteer Training!

We are excited to announce that the Our Children Project (ministry to children in Immigration detention) will be launching new volunteer teams in April! If you are interested in being apart of this important and transformational ministry, we have 2 identical trainings, for your convenience.

Saturday, March 26th 1-3pm and Saturday, April 2nd 10am-12pm
Crittenton Office
801 East Chapman, Ste. 203 Fullerton, CA 92831
Light refreshments will be served

To RSVP for one of these trainings, please click Here.

If you have any questions or would like more information about the Our Children Project, please contact Bethany at

Anchor Baby Revolution

I held a one week old baby boy tonight. He is perfectly beautiful and I was instantly in love. He’s just a little guy, weighing in at just over 6 pounds. He has all this hair and likes to pucker his big lips. His name is JJ and he is what many sadly refer to as an “anchor baby”.

You see, his mother is a 15 year old girl from Central America who upon finding out she was pregnant decided to make the dangerous journey to the US. She is an illegal immigrant.

As I was holding JJ I thought about how innocent he is. I thought about how happy he must make Jesus, laying there in his purest form, untouched by the darkness of the world. I thought about what it will be like for him to grow up and the hardships he will surely face being a child of an immigrant.

Then I thought about the new life he must bring to his mom. This young girl comes from a place infested with violence, poverty and corruption. She has lived more life and seen more devastation in her 15 years than most do in a lifetime.

I hate that many in our country (including far too many in our Church) will never see past the law breaking act of crossing the border to have her baby. I hate that there will be people who think she is manipulative, selfish and wants nothing more than to live off the benefits of having an American Citizen child. Many things will be assumed about her while very few people actually try to get to know her. I hate that many will not see her innocence or her pure intent. I hate that many will not realize how selfless she actually is. I hate that her heroic act of traveling 2000 miles, alone and pregnant, just so that her baby won’t have to worry about being kidnapped and trafficked by the gangs or know what it feels like to slowly starve to death, will go unnoticed.

I don’t want to suggest that anyone who is pregnant should be able to come here and I don’t mean to over emotionalize our current Immigration situation. I also don't want to perpetuate the idea that it is common for immigrants to come unlawfully just to give birth to so called "anchor babies": in reality, 91& of undocumented immigrants who give birth in the U.S. have already been present in the U.S. for more than two years. I simply want to remind us that there are beating hearts behind this issue. There are people like JJ and his mom who want nothing more than to live a life of dignity. I want us to ask ourselves the difficult questions. I want us to see JJ and his mom and think about what it would look like to love them well. I want us to think about the millions more who were not as lucky as JJ. I want us to consider our part in loving those who have crossed our borders while figuring out our role in the transformation that needs to happen in the places people are coming from. This issue calls for more than new policy; it calls for an army of Christians who are ready to fight poverty and corruption with peace and love. As believers, I don’t think we can complain about the drain JJ and his mom might be on our economy while we do nothing to address the reasons they are here in the first place.

Sometimes I feel hopeless because I know we have such a long way to go.

But then I remember who our God is.

I remember that when Jesus looks at JJ and his mom, He does not see an illegal immigrant and her anchor baby. He sees His son and daughter who He loves with all His heart and who He was willing to die for. I can’t help but hope for the kind of revolution that would occur if we were all more like Christ in this way.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

CA Assembly Member Introduces Strict Immigration Law [UPDATE]

In a discussion group last year with immigration advocacy organizations, we discussed the possibility of Arizona SB 1070 inspired laws in California. A few legislators were identified who had run on platforms that included harsh treatment of immigrants. There was a consensus in the room that it would be more difficult to pass this kind of legislation in California in 2011 that it was in Arizona in 2010, but we should be vigilant.

California Assembly member Tim Donnelly (R-59th Assembly District) has introduced The Secure Immigration Enforcement Act, or AB 26. The bill would allow citizens to sue any local government that operates as a sanctuary for undocumented immigrants. It would also require every employer in the state to use E-Verify to check on the immigration status of employees.*

Tim Donnelly is a Republican assembly member from Southern California and a Tea Party member. During a recent interview on Fox News, Donnelly said that beyond this law, he also wanted to target the use of welfare money by undocumented immigrants.*

For a story on this see KPBS: CA Assembly Member Introduces Strict Immigration Law

*Source: KPBS

[UPDATE] from California Immigrant Policy Center

Dear Friends

There is a strongly anti-immigrant bill sponsored by Assembly Member Tim Donnelly, the founder of California's largest Minutemen chapter,  that is about to come before the California Assembly Judiciary Committee. Although we are confident that it will ultimately fail, we need your voice in opposition to this harmful bill.

AB 26 (R-Donnelly) would prohibit public officials and entities from limiting local enforcement of immigration law, it would mandate the E-Verify program, it would criminalize work for many immigrants and subject taxpayers to needless and costly litigation over its constitutionality, at a time when CA cannot afford it.

The following is a sample opposition letter to AB 26 addressed to  Assembly Member Mike Feuer, the Chair of the Assembly Judiciary Committee. Assembly Member Feuer needs to hear from us about the harm this bill would do if it were to become law. PLEASE WRITE AND SEND IN YOUR LETTER TODAY. The hearing is currently set for April 5, 2011. In order to get into the file for the hearing, your letter should be submitted by March 29th. Thank You!

NOTE: I will post the letter in a separate post above.

Monday, March 21, 2011

Which Way, America?: Reframing, Regrouping and Realigning for Immigrant Integration

Wednesday, April 6, 2011
8:30AM - 4:30 PM
Davidson Conference Center, University of Southern California (USC), Los Angeles, CA

Go to and enter in CSII for the event code.

With the failure to secure comprehensive immigration reform in Washington – including the inability to pass even the DREAM Act – two things seem clear. The first is that what is driving the debate is not simply the immigration system per se, but also a deeper anxiety about the changing demographics and economics of our nation. The second is that the challenge of immigration policy is moving down the geographic scale: increasingly, the battles about integrating or restricting immigrants will occur at the state, regional, and local levels.

Mark 7:24-30: The Syro-Phoenician Woman, Social Boundaries, Evangelicals, and Latin American Immigration

The account in Mark 7:24-30 begins with Jesus arriving in Tyre and entering a house with the desire to have his presence remain unknown. Without specifying the amount of time that had passed since Jesus arrived, the story teller writes, “as soon as she heard about him, a woman whose little daughter was possessed by an evil spirit came and fell at his feet.” We discover that this woman, who began to beg Jesus to heal her daughter by driving out the demon that was possessing her, was a Greek born Syro-Phoenician.

The social and theological import of this encounter is grasped only when the multiple social boundaries in place during this socio-historical location that get crossed during this meeting are illuminated. Commenting on the marginalized space this woman inhabited during this time period, Jim Perkinson notes, “She is, perhaps more than almost any other character in Mark, Jesus' "other"—not only geographically, but sexually, racially and religiously, "on the outside." By approaching Jesus in the manner she did, the Syro-Phoenician woman was crossing these socially constructed boundaries that were intended to divide, subverting them, and challenging the socio-political status quo that they maintained.

After the Syro-Phoenician woman “begged Jesus to drive the demon out of her daughter[,]” Jesus responded--in a manner that appears to be informed by the socially constructed boundaries this woman is challenging by her action--by saying, “First let the children eat all they want...for it is not right to take the children’s bread and toss it to their dogs.” Regardless of the exact reason why Jesus used this term, the importance of this statement is how it reveals Jesus’ inability to see this woman as a part of his ministry and mission.

It is at this point in the story that the woman’s relentlessness and quick wit move the story forward and deeper. The Syro-Phoenician woman’s profound response to Jesus was, “Yes, Lord...but even the dogs under the table eat the children’s crumbs.” And Jesus responded astonishingly by claiming that as a result of her reply, he casted the demon out of her daughter! By crossing the socially constructed boundaries that were a part of the established order, and by verbally challenging Jesus’ understanding of his ministry, the Syro-Phoenician woman became the catalyst for Jesus to see another dimension of his divine mission.

How are we to understand and appropriate this story in light of the socially constructed boundaries that are being crossed by Latin Americans migrating into the United States today, namely the national, racial, and socioeconomic boundaries? First, this story must provoke majority culture Christians to examine their own socially constructed boundaries that prevent them from seeing Latin American migrants as a part of their ministry. Like Jesus when he first encountered the Syro-Phoenician woman, it is these social boundaries that cause majority culture Christians to view Latin American migrants as outsiders, and thus, unable to see their presence as making a claim on their life and participation in God’s mission. These boundaries must first be exposed in order to subsequently be transcended.

Second, and the most critical aspect of this reading in order to understand and appropriate this story today, is the way in which the life of the Syro-Phenician woman was able to help Jesus transcend these social boundaries, lead Jesus to see a deeper dimension of God’s mission, and thus, to enact a deeper dimension of his own ministry. The lives of Latin American migrants in the U.S. today are crossing the socially constructed and ideological boundaries of majority culture evangelicals, and as a result, are confronting them as outsiders. Dalit Feminist, Surekha Nelavala, suggests that “the role of Jesus in this story breaks through the boundaries of insider-outsider and challenges Christians who operate rigidly within these boundaries.”

Like the Syro-Phoenician woman in her encounter with Jesus, Latin American migrants in the United States today, carry the potential to awaken majority culture Christians to a deeper dimension of God’s mission, and their participation in it. By seeing Jesus’ willingness to re-think his relationship to the Syro-Phoenician woman as a reference point, majority culture Christians must be willing to re-think the way they relate to Latin American migrants in their own lives. Are majority culture Christians going to relate to Latin American migrants through the grid constructed by their social boundaries, and thus, continue to treat them as “dogs?” Or, are they going to allow the presence and lives of Latin American migrants to challenge these socially constructed boundaries, expose them as the ideological commitments they are, and to lead them a deeper participation in God’s mission by standing in solidarity with, and extending hospitality to them? In order for majority culture Christians to be faithful to the witness of Christ within this contemporary social situation, they must be willing to transcend these social boundaries in order to extend love and hospitality to their Latin American migrant neighbors.

Saturday, March 19, 2011

The Border Between Them

Some of the complexity of the current immigration system is captured in this story, The Border Between Them, from KCET.

video platformvideo managementvideo solutionsvideo player

Just over 9 minutes into the video, US Representative Dana Rohrbacher claims it is all simple, the family should go back to Mexico and wait in line like the good Mexican immigrants. This view is actually held by a few people, and this position gets Rohrbacher re-elected to congress. That is unfortunate for the children portrayed in this piece.

There are other people who believe, and I believe that the majority of people who care to understand the situation, that the immigration system needs to be overhauled so that it is compassionate, comprehensive, and fair. What do you think?

Thanks for visiting this blog. You belong here. Your thoughts are welcome. Please feel free to leave a comment.

Monday, March 14, 2011

The Law, Love, and Immigration from a Biblical Perspective

Friend of the Loving the Stranger blog, Matthew Soerens and author of Welcoming the Stranger: Justice, Compassion & Truth in the Immigration Debate begins a blog series on Romans 13 today at Check out the first in the series: Further Thoughts on Romans 13--Part 1.

I just finished teaching a class on hermeneutics for Seminario Bíblico de las Américas. Hermeneutics is the art and science of interpretation. In our class we were able to clarify the meaning of many passages of scripture by looking a the context of the passage--the historical and cultural context from which the text was written, the intent of the author, the immediate context of specific passage, the context of the book, the testament and the meta-narrative of the whole Bible. We asked questions about how this passage fits with the redemptive purpose of the entirety of scripture. To understand Romans 13:1-5 we also need to understand Romans 12. We need to understand the church's relationship to the Roman government at the time of the crucifixion of Jesus, and Acts 5, and in AD 90 when the Apostle John wrote of his Revelation of Jesus Christ. We also need to consider the narrative of Shiphrah and Puah, Hebrew midwives named in Exodus chapter one. Always check the context to avoid a misinformed pretext.

Check out Matt's series this week at

Immigration: State by State: Los Angeles Times

"Utah is the latest state to consider a local fix to a federal problem. The federal government needs to step up." L.A. Times Editorial, Mar. 14, 2011.

The Los Angeles Times editorial board calls on federal lawmakers to revive the Development, Relief and Education for Alien Minors bill, known as the DREAM Act and  the Agricultural Job Opportunities, Benefits and Security Act, or AgJobs. Last year, Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) and Rep. Howard Berman (D-Valley Village) sponsored an AgJobs bill.