Sunday, June 27, 2010
Half a dozen Crescent Hill folks were among those who joined Julia Thorne, an immigration lawyer who advises and organizes the Presbyterian Church U.S.A. on immigration issues, for a discussion at Central Presbyterian Church. Julia led an enlightening discussion about immigration and diversity in scripture, including the flight of the infant Jesus with his parents to Egypt. Julia reviewed some of the development of immigration and diversity law in U.S. history and outlined today’s very complex immigration policies. Julia highlighted the existence of two key categories of people between citizens and undocumented immigrants: people here with temporary legal status (like international status or people officially designated for positions in agricultural labor that have gone unfilled by U.S. people) and people who are legal permanent residents but not citizens (like our own Kevin and Irene, both Canadian citizens), who enjoy many of the benefits of citizenship but cannot vote and can be deported if convicted of a felony. Julia gave an example of a fictional local roofing contractor who, if he followed all of the rules and things went reasonably well, he might gain legal permission to hire someone he had selected in 10 years. Julia expressed pessimism about the passage of liberal immigration reform. Instead of or in addition to advocacy for reform, churches might also help: (1) make it possible for undocumented immigrant young people to attend college with financial aid; and (2) support immigrants in a network of U.S. government immigration detention centers and local jails and private prisoners where immigrants are held – especially immigrants in detention nearby. Presbyterians there from the presbytery’s Hispanic Latino commission talked about a private effort to raise money for such an effort for University of Louisville students (the Dream Foundation), and a former Center for Women and Families talked about her efforts to protect her children and herself from domestic violence . The discussion underlined how vulnerable immigrants are to abuse and neglect in prison and within their families, since they have few rights and no one to advocate for them.