Senior Correspondent

WASHINGTON ( – In the Spring of 2006, millions of immigrant workers, along with their families, waged a campaign for immigration reform that literally halted repressive legislation in its tracks. This year, momentum is building again among Latinos nationally for more protests.

In Los Angeles, on Apr. 7, tens of thousands of immigrants marched in one of the largest protests since last May 1, which is known as “May Day.” In Washington, D.C., a coalition recently announced plans for a May Day 2007 rally to take place here as part of a nation-wide wave for another day of action for immigrant rights demanding: An end to the deportation of undocumented workers; comprehensive immigration reform with a path to legalization for all; and a declaration by the D.C. Mayor and City Council, making the nation’s capital a sanctuary city for immigrants.

“Sanctuary” is an important concept which Christian churches have embraced. “The whole issue around sanctuary is an important biblical concept,” the Rev. Graylan Hagler, Pastor of Plymouth Congregation Church, told reporters Apr. 10.


“Because it promises that as people come to a place, they will receive sanctuary, as Psalm 23 says, ‘Prepare a table for me in the presence of my enemies.’ And it’s the idea that we all should be protected in this world. We all should have a place of dignity. We all should have a place of being, wherever we are,” he said, pledging solidarity and the support of his mostly Black congregation to the immigrant rights movement.

A new network of faith communities is forming according to a statement from the coalition, which includes the D.C. Committee for Immigrant Rights, Mexicanos Sin Fronteras, The Metro D.C. Interfaith Sanctuary Network, and the Latino Media Collective. The coalition emphasizes, for example, that unlike other local jurisdictions which have sent police officers for training in order that they might collaborate with immigration authorities, D.C. police are not mandated to work with federal officials on immigration enforcement.

In addition, many social services are available to all residents in Washington, without them having to prove their citizenship or immigration status. That principle is also rooted in Christian theology, according to Rev. Hagler.

“One thing I want to make it clear is that, in God’s world, there is an abundance, rather than a scarcity. And I say that as a minister of the gospel, because we need to focus on the fact that God created the world with an abundance of resources, and also for people to share in it. Any other viewpoint is anti-biblical and anti-Christian,” he said.

President Bush’s policies, on the other hand, continue to tip toward what immigrant advocates consider the conservative, racist elements in the society. Mr. Bush told an audience at the U.S. border crossing with Mexico in Yuma, Arizona, that he would call for a temporary guest-work program and massive fines for those seeking citizenship.

“Congress is going to take up the legislation on immigration. This is a matter of national interest and it is a matter of deep conviction for me. I’ve been working to bring Republicans and Democrats together to resolve outstanding issues so that congress can pass a comprehensive bill and I can sign it into law this year,” he said.

The Bush proposal would create a new visa category for undocumented workers, who could apply for renewable three-year work permits at a cost of $3,500. Then, in order to become legal residents, workers would have to return to their home countries, apply and pay a $10,000 fine. The proposal also prohibits temporary workers from bringing their families into the country.

“Right now [President Bush] is trying to appease his racist conservative voters,” Emma Lozano, executive Director of Chicago’s Centro Sin Fronteras told The Final Call last November at a rally outside the White House.

The President’s policy is wrong-headed, Artemio Martinez of the Latino Media Collective, said in response to a question from The Final Call. The federal government should “protect our communities that are vulnerable, and not able to protect themselves; that are just targets of the immigration raids and don’t have any legal protections, and don’t have any moral protections.

“We would have liked that the Bush administration would have taken steps to protect the community, but obviously, that isn’t something that we’re expecting, especially after he made the announcement in Arizona that we need a larger wall; we need more enforcement. That isn’t something we approve of. Neither do we allow for that to happen. We will continue to protest and request for an immigration that will include our communities for a just reform,” Mr. Martinez said.

In Chicago, Adalberto United Methodist Church has provided sanctuary for months to Elvira Arellano, whose husband and seven-year-old child are both U.S. citizens, but who has been targeted by U.S. immigration authorities for arrest and deportation back to Mexico.

If U.S. history is any measure, there should be little wonder that Mexicans are flooding into this country, explained the Honorable Minister Louis Farrakhan in his Apr. 8 address as part of the “One Nation Under God” lecture series. In mentioning the numerous U.S. presidents that have waged unjust and unprovoked wars all over the earth based on lies and deceit, Min. Farrakhan said Pres. James Polk lied to the U.S. Congress in 1847 by stating that Mexico had attacked and killed Americans “on American soil,” when in fact, U.S. forces were well inside Mexican territory.

That war ended up in the U.S. annexation of Texas, Arizona, New Mexico, Colorado, all the way to Utah. When Mexicans now come across the border, Min. Farrakhan pointed out, they are simply “returning home.”