Racism and Immigration Justice

Please plan to participate in the education forums on Sunday, November 10 and 17, at 9:30 am in the Fellowship Hall. We will explore the current status of immigrant justice and the ways racism undergirds and informs it. These forums feature Daniel Romero, a social worker who has worked for 15 years as a faith-based community organizer for immigration justice. Currently, he serves with the Interfaith Coalition on Immigration, the Minnesota Immigrant Rights Action Committee, and the United Church of Christ Statewide Immigration Team.  This forum series is jointly sponsored by the Sanctuary Support Team and the Racial Justice Committee.

Who are the immigrants, and why are they coming?

Mr. M. is a citizen of Guatemala seeking asylum in the U.S. One day on his way to work, he was approached by four police officers, who asked for his name and ID. They said he was “perfect” for a job they had in mind, which was to sell drugs and traffic firearms. Mr. M. told them he did not want to do the job, and they said he would instead have to give them 70 million quetzals, the equivalent of over $9 million U.S. dollars.

A few weeks later, the police returned to his work site and asked if he was ready to work for them. Mr. M. said he could not do their job or give them the money they were demanding. The officers beat Mr. M. badly, injuring his nose and ribs. They told him they would return in a few days, and if he did not agree to comply, they would kill him. They warned him that if he went to the police to report the incident, they would be the first to know.

“The officer told me if I fled the country they would find me, even beneath the rocks.” ~ Mr. M.

Two days later, Mr. M fled to the United States. His boss has since told him that the police officers continue to look for him in Guatemala.

Mr. M.’s story is not difficult to believe for members of Gloria Dei who have traveled to Guatemala. Neither is it unusual among the cases of asylum seekers being assisted by the Advocates for Human Rights, Lutheran Immigrant and Refugee Services, the ELCA’s AMMPARO program, and the many other organizations that have mobilized communities of faith to reach out in compassion.

In March, 2017, the Gloria Dei community voted to become a sanctuary-supporting congregation, and this past August, the ELCA voted to become a sanctuary church. We have since participated in direct support of asylum-seekers, immigration court observation, and public advocacy. That work continues, but it is also important for our congregation to understand and help address problems underlying the anti-immigrant sentiment so common in our society today. Racism has often been the energy behind opposition to immigration throughout our country’s history, as it is today.  Complicating our attitudes and political opinions is the fear of losing white privilege and power, as people with different languages and colors of skin enter our country. Racism and fear are problems we need to discuss. Please join us for these Education Forums.