US Christians brand new immigration law 'social and racial sin'

US Christians brand new immigration law 'social and racial sin'

By staff writers
24 Apr 2010

Progressive Christians in the US have branded a new law on migration a "social and racial sin".

The comments came after the Governor of Arizona, Jan Brewer, signed Senate Bill 1070, an immigration law seen as one of the toughest in the US.

The bill will require state police to question people about their immigration status if there is "reasonable suspicion".

The bill - which takes effect in 90 days - also makes it a crime under state law to be in the US illegally.

President Obama has described the law in the US border state as "misguided".

But the Rev Jim Wallis, a progressive evangelical leader, said in a statement that the “radical new measure, which crosses many moral and legal lines, is a clear demonstration of the fundamental mistake of separating enforcement from comprehensive immigration reform."

On Tuesday, Wallis – along with other national and local faith and civil rights leaders – delivered more than 10,000 petitions to Jan Brewer, calling on her to veto the bill.

"The law signed today by Arizona Gov. Brewer is a social and racial sin, and should be denounced as such by people of faith and conscience across the nation" Wallis said.

"It is not just about Arizona, but about all of us, and about what kind of country we want to be. It is not only mean-spirited – it will be ineffective and will only serve to further divide communities in Arizona, making everyone more fearful and less safe.

"This radical new measure, which crosses many moral and legal lines, is a clear demonstration of the fundamental mistake of separating enforcement from comprehensive immigration reform. Enforcement without reform of the system is merely cruel. Enforcement without compassion is immoral. Enforcement that breaks up families is unacceptable. This law will make it illegal to love your neighbour in Arizona, and will force us to disobey Jesus and his gospel. We will not comply."

Other Christians said that the new law institutionalised racial profiling, and would make Arizona less safe.

The head of the humanitarian agency Church World Service (CWS), said the law went "beyond anti-immigrant sentiments and supports racial profiling."

"We are deeply concerned about the enactment of SB 1070," said CWS executive Director and CEO, John L. McCullough. "This legislation feels reactionary and hateful. It is a clear representation of the politics of division and exclusion.

"Gov. Brewer has ignored the advice of the Arizona Association of Chiefs of Police and the Mesa Fraternal of Police to veto the bill," McCullough said.

"By this action, she has actively institutionalised racial profiling and will make Arizona less safe."

Church World Service is a 63-year-old faith-based humanitarian organisation that works in the US and internationally.

"Church World Service understands first-hand the impact this legislation will have on communities," said McCullough. "We do take heart that President Obama has strongly condemned this legislation, and urge his administration to do everything in its power to prevent its implementation and the consequences it will have for human rights."

[Ekk/2]

Keywords: immigration | migration
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