The College of Bishops and the Commission on Justice and Human Concerns Respond to the Arizona Immigration Law
The College of Bishops and the members of the Commission on Social Justice and Human Concerns of the Christian Methodist Episcopal (C.M.E.) Church stand with the National Council of Churches on its denouncement of Arizona’s new immigration law.
On Monday, April 27, 2010, the National Council of Churches (NCC), an organization comprised of many faith groups including the Christian Methodist Episcopal Church, released a public statement that “sharply criticized Arizona's new immigration law as fundamentally unjust, dangerous to citizens and non-citizens alike, and a rejection of centuries-old biblical precepts of justice and neighborliness.” The NCC also reported that the Rev. Dr. Michael Kinnamon, NCC General Secretary, last week urged Arizona Governor Jan Brewer to veto the legislation, and reiterated the view of NCC member communions and Arizona religious leaders "that this legislation will not contribute to the reform of our nation's immigration system." The NCC release stated that "the new law may stimulate similar anti-immigrant legislation throughout the country." Governor Brewer signed the measure into law April 23.
Many civil rights groups and leaders, Americans and Christians are concerned that the new Arizona immigration law discriminates against immigrants, and will sharply increase the number of incidents attributed to racial profiling, bigotry and racism. As a result, the new law could set the stage for unlawful immigration reform and unfair treatment of illegal immigrants nationwide.
The new Arizona immigration law requires state and local law enforcement to check the immigration status of anyone they have a "reasonable suspicion" of being in the country illegally. This law requires legal immigrants to carry proof of their legal status at all times; failure to do so is punishable by up to six months in jail and a fine of up to $2,500. The law would also require employers to keep E-Verify records of employees’ eligibility, and allow law enforcement officials to arrest a person without a warrant if they have probable cause to believe the person has committed a public offense that makes him or her removable from the United States.
The new immigration law will require a massive amount of training for law enforcement officers, and skilled officers to act effectively and without prejudice. Additionally, the new law will press Arizona law officers to enforce federal immigration and perhaps divert them from tending to more pressing public safety issues. These concerns have not been adequately addressed by the state of Arizona.
There are a number of CME churches in Arizona, California, Texas, and other states with large populations of immigrants, and particularly Latinos. We should be concerned about the effect of the new law on immigrants and how it discriminates against them. As Christians, we must help our brothers and sisters and the less fortunate against social injustices which include unfair immigration reform laws. The United States of America became a great nation as the result of the significant contributions of immigrants and people of faith and conscience raising their voices for freedom and justice.
We urge you to contact your Congressional representative about the unfairness of the Arizona immigration bill, and to request that Congress seek fair and legal immigration reform laws that do not threaten the civil rights of immigrants. For a complete listing of your Congressional representatives, visit: http://www.usa.gov/Contact/Elected.shtml
The Christian Methodist Episcopal Church, under the leadership of Senior Bishop William H. Graves and its College of Bishops, is a 139-year old historically African American Christian denomination with more than 800,000 members across the United States, and has missions and sister churches in Haiti, Jamaica, Ghana, Liberia, Nigeria and the Democratic Republic of the Congo. There are four CME related colleges: Lane College (Jackson, TN), Miles College (Birmingham, AL), Paine College (Augusta, GA) and Texas College (Tyler, TX); and a seminary, Phillips School of Theology, which is an affiliate member of the Interdenominational Theological Center (Atlanta, GA). For additional information about the CME Church, visit www.c-m-e.org
Senior Bishop William H. Graves, Sr., CEO
Bishop Othal H. Lakey
Bishop Edward Lynn Brown
Bishop Thomas L. Hoyt, Jr.
Bishop Paul A. G. Stewart, Sr.
Bishop Lawrence L. Reddick, III, Secretary, College of Bishops
Bishop Henry M. Williamson, Sr., Chairman, Commission on Social Justice & Human Concerns
Bishop Ronald M. Cunningham
Bishop Thomas L. Brown, Sr., Chairman, College of Bishops
Bishop Kenneth W. Carter
Bishop Dotcy I. Isom, Jr.
Bishop Marshall Gilmore
Bishop Nathaniel Linsey