A leading objective of many religious left organizations is to weaken -- and even eliminate -- most, if not all, regulations and controls on immigration into the United States. Blurring the distinction between legal and illegal immigrants, these groups depict any calls for the strict enforcement of immigration laws as expressions of racism, ethnocentrism, and xenophobia.
While sharing all the major goals of the open-borders lobby generally, the religious left goes a step further by incorporating also a spiritual dimension into its activism – emphasizing that in God's eyes no person is “illegal,” and claiming that Christian ethics require that all immigrants – regardless of legal status – should be welcomed with warmth, hospitality, and compassion. The “sanctuary” policies that many large cities (and some small towns) have adopted to protect illegal immigrants from law-enforcement authorities, drew their original inspiration from churches that provided aid to illegal aliens who had fled from the civil wars that raged in their homelands (Nicaragua, El Salvador, and Guatemala) during the 1980s.
The American Friends Service Committee (AFSC) embodies faithfully the religious left's position on most immigration-related matters. Strongly opposing laws that would apprehend and punish illegal immigrants in the United States, AFSC denounced Operation Gatekeeper, a government initiative that aimed to secure -- by means of increased border patrol agents and fencing -- the San Diego border with Mexico, which was once the busiest illegal-alien crossing point into America. By AFSC's reckoning, such measures constitute “brutal” affronts to “the rights and dignity” of “undocumented” immigrants. AFSC has posted on its website a detailed list of strategies by which illegal aliens can evade interrogation, detention, or arrest by immigration authorities or police.
According to the National Council of Churches (NCC), “comprehensive immigration reform” – i.e., a pathway to amnesty and citizenship for the millions of illegals currently residing in the United States – is both a “divine mandate” and a “patriotic act.”
Pax Christi USA (PCUSA) has launched a project called the People's Peace Initiative, which condemns “the suffering and death happening at the U.S.-Mexico border” when would-be illegal border-crossers occasionally succumb to the desert heat. In PCUSA's calculus, the migrations of impoverished Central Americans into the U.S. are no less morally justifiable than the relocations of “Appalachian … mountain people forced to leave their homes in search of work.” PCUSA endorses the Immigrant Workers Freedom Ride Coalition, which favors amnesty for illegal aliens and policy reforms to diminish or eliminate future restrictions on immigration. Moreover, PCUSA has given its organizational endorsement to “Justice for Immigrants: A Journey of Hope” – an initiative that seeks to bring about “a broad-based legalization of the undocumented of all nationalities”; “allow family members [of illegal aliens] to reunite with loved ones in the United States”; end “the border 'blockade' enforcement strategy”; and restore “due process protections for [illegal] immigrants.”
The Christian Peacemaker Teams (CPT) maintain a seasonal presence along the Arizona / Mexico border, where they conduct “a campaign to challenge U.S. immigration policies that result in hundreds of migrant deaths in the desert every summer.” CPT team members “[hold] cross-border prayer vigils, remain alert to vigilante threats, and monitor border-patrol officers' treatment of migrants.” This campaign is conducted in close cooperation with the open-borders organization No More Deaths. On its website, CPT encourages American churches to help illegal aliens hide from immigration authorities.
This section of Discover The Networks examines the immigration-related objectives and activities of these and many other key organizations that comprise the religious left.