Comprehensive Digest of Social Witness at the 220th PC(USA) General Assembly



Item 12-01: Rescinding the 219th General Assembly (2010) Call to Stand with Immigrant Presbyterians

Disapproved by the Assembly. This overture specifically called for a rescinding of the previous GA commitment to selective patronage, namely not to hold any national meetings in Arizona and states with immigration legislation similar to SB1070/HB2162. The overture claimed that this selective patronage brought about harm, even to the populations the supporters of the strategy seek to help, and to the Arizona Presbyterians who feel abandoned in their own work from within the state to ameliorate conditions for immigrants.

The ACSWP Advice and Counsel noted that the overture “does not stipulate what the harmful effects have been… nor is there any taking account of possible positive results of the policy or its impact on the mission and witness of the PC(USA). Neither did this overture address other elements of advocacy for immigrant rights.” The A&C goes on to explain that “the primary purpose of the assembly’s action was to protect Hispanic Presbyterians visiting the state from racial profiling.” Moreover, “the influence of this and other decisions is estimated to have cost the state approximately $140 million. It is further said to have prompted business leaders to join with others addressing punitive impacts of the law on citizens and immigrants in Arizona. Thus significant progress appears to be underway in Arizona, effectively modifying the enforcement of SB1070 legislation if not rescinding it.”

Items 12-02 and 12-03: The Plight of Immigrant People

Approved with amendment by the Assembly. These items call for the development of relationships with immigrant peoples in our communities; support of pastors and congregations impacted by immigration crisis; the financial support of the education of immigrant people; and a deepening of cross-cultural learning. They also recommend advocacy  for legislative reform, including the DREAM Act (Development, Relief, and Education for Alien Minors), legal assistance to immigrants, workplace rights, and the establishment of minimum standards of care for detainees (including legal representation).

Items 12-04 and 12-06: Comprehensive Immigration Reform

Approved with amendment by the Assembly. This item, with amendment, urges congregations to practical biblical hospitality to the stranger. Its identified elements of comprehensive immigration reform include: avoiding separation of families; providing a reasonable and inclusive path for undocumented migrants presently living in the U.S. eventually to gain citizenship; requiring humane enforcement procedures; eliminating lengthy detention of migrants, strengthening due process protections at every stage of the system, and establishing and enforcing minimum standards of care; and enforcing the right of workers to fair wages, to organize, and to seek redress. The overture also calls for the community and worship formation alongside and with immigrant peoples. The overture calls on Congress to pass immediately legislation comparable to the DREAM Act providing a pathway to citizenship for eligible students; to enact clear, enforceable detention reforms; to draw attention to the human rights crisis along the border region between Mexico and the U.S. Finally, it directs ACSWP to investigate how free trade agreements are affecting immigration.

Item 12-05: On the Plight of Indonesian Christian Immigrants and the Passage of the Indonesian Refugee Protection Act

Approved with amendment by the Assembly. This overture requests advocacy for Indonesian Christian immigrants who fled their home country due to severe persecution some years ago and failed to apply for asylum within the one-year deadline because of lack of information or misjudgment. They now face deportation. The proposed IFRP Act asks, not for automatic asylum, but for a day in court to make a case for asylum. The amended version extends the call for protection to all Indonesian immigrant refugees, not just Christians.

Item 12-07: Churches in Relationship with Immigrant Communities

Approved with amendment by the Assembly. This overture calls upon the PC(USA) to explore what it means to be church together with immigrant brothers and sisters through shared worship, development of liturgical resources, development of spiritual disciplines, advocacy, deepening relationships, and development of best practices. For instance, it calls for quarterly worship services centered on immigrant voices and experiences, and a move away (in churches hosting immigrant fellowships) from the “landlord/tenant” model to the model of a spiritual covenant.

Item 12-10: Commissioners’ Resolution Regarding Safe Communities for Everyone

Approved with amendment by the Assembly. This resolution requests that the appropriate PC(USA) offices “address the civil liberties, racial profiling, security, and due process concerns related to the arrest and detention of immigrants through the Secure Communities program.” It also calls for the termination of that program and encourages participation in amicus curiae (friends of court) briefs in cases seeking to ameliorate or end S-Comm or other practices contrary to PC(USA) policies on immigration.

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