Faith groups push on immigration: the DREAM act

Many faith-based activists hope Congress will pass immigration reform, specifically the DREAM Act – the Development, Relief & Education for Alien Minors Act.

The battle over immigration reform shifted from Capitol Hill to state legislatures, and a number of states passed laws that focus on enforcement rather than on overhauling the system, as federal proposals would do.

In 2010 Arizona passed one of the toughest immigration laws in the country, and the Arizona law is also providing a model for a number of recent laws in other states aimed at cracking down on immigration and immigrants. Major parts of the Arizona law were suspended pending legal appeals that seem headed for the Supreme Court, but Utah, Georgia and, most recently, Alabama adopted similar statutes.

Why it matters

Historically, the United States has been a nation of immigrants. It has also long been seen as a harbor for religious migrants seeking freedom of worship. That is why the Pilgrims first came to America and why immigrants of many other faiths still seek entry. Those immigrants continue to renew or transform American religion. But many argue that wide-open immigration, especially for non-Christians, is changing what is essential about the United States, including the nation’s foundational faith traditions. Consequently, the debate over immigration reform can be seen as a debate about American identity.

What's new

Background

There are two constants throughout the debate: One is the push by religious groups to pass a bill, and the second is the fact that the issue will not go away. By some estimates there are as many as 11 million “undocumented” or “illegal” immigrants (the preferred adjective varies) in the United States, and experts say a strict law enforcement approach has not stanched the influx.

Promoting immigration reform and aiding immigrants are priorities for many religious groups, whose leadership has been deeply involved in the political debate. These faith communities often have different reasons for their positions. But for most, the immigration debate centers on shared religious principles of hospitality to the stranger, charity for the needy and justice for the oppressed.

When it comes to immigration, however, those views are not necessarily shared by worshippers in the pews. Americans consistently rank immigration reform as a top priority, but a strong majority of those who follow the issue want that reform to start with a law-and-order approach to illegal immigrants.

A complicating factor today is that many Republicans worry that if they oppose immigration reform now they may suffer politically in the future because of the growing presence and influence of Hispanics. Meanwhile, some Hispanic leaders say that Obama and the Democrats must deliver on their promises to enact immigration reform if they want to retain Latino support. At the same time, unauthorized immigration is dropping markedly, according to research by the PEW Center.

The DREAM Act was not the reform many advocates would like, but it is seen as a crucial step toward that broader goal. The DREAM Act would grant legal status to illegal immigrants brought to the United States as children if they join the military or attend college. It is viewed as a gateway to citizenship for thousands of undocumented young adults living in the U.S.

Comprehensive Immigration Reform

Arizona's Law

Resources and Previous Developments

Surveys

Polls show that Americans generally want immigration reform but are concerned about the possible negative effects on immigrant families and on increasing the risks of bias against Hispanics in particular. Those concerns are balanced against a desire for greater border security, which is why there is general support for the Arizona law, for example.

Religion angles on immigration

Since the history of the United States is largely the story of immigration, it is not surprising that the history of nearly every religious community in the United States, from Puritans to Muslims, is also a story of immigration. These are not static stories, either. Religious groups continue to be affected and even transformed by immigration. Mormonism, for example, is considered a “home-grown” American religion, and yet today much of the church’s growth is in the immigrant Latino community. The same holds true for Pentecostalism.

Yet many religious believers are at odds with their leaders on the immigration issue. Experts say economic anxiety — the fear that immigration costs resident Americans more in terms of jobs and higher taxes than it helps the economy — and fears of terrorism trump religious tenets on this issue. With that perspective in mind, here are story angles and sources on the various religious groups with a stake in the immigration debate:

Interfaith

  • Interfaith Alliance

    The Interfaith Alliance is the national nonpartisan advocacy voice of the interfaith movement. Media inquiries can be submitted through a form on the alliance’s website.

    Contact: 202-265-3000.
  • Sojourners

    Sojourners magazine is a progressive evangelical magazine in Washington, D.C. Its commitment is to faith in action for social justice. Jim Wallis is CEO and editor in chief of Sojourners.

  • Interfaith Coalition for Immigrant Rights

    The Interfaith Coalition for Immigrant Rights (ICIR) is an organization formed by California religious leaders to support the rights and fair treatment of immigrants. Rev. Deborah Lee is project director.

  • National Network for Immigrant and Refugee Rights

    The National Network for Immigrant and Refugee Rights works to protect the rights of immigrants and refugees and to promote social and economic justice globally. Catherine Tactaquin is executive director.

  • National Immigration Forum

    The National Immigration Forum advocates for the rights and integration of immigrants and works for productive immigration reform. Ali Noorani is executive director.

  • Faith in Public Life

    Faith in Public Life is “a strategy center for the faith community advancing faith in the public square as a powerful force for justice, compassion and the common good.”

  • Christians for Comprehensive Immigration Reform

    Christians for Comprehensive Immigration Reform is a campaign of Sojourners that educates and mobilizes Christian organizations, churches, and leaders from across the theological and political spectrum to advocate for comprehensive U.S. immigration reform and compassionate immigration policies at the state level.

  • Gamaliel Foundation

    The Gamaliel Foundation describes itself as a nonpartisan, faith-based organizing network of 72 affiliates in 26 U.S. states and five provinces of South Africa. The foundation is a leading advocacy group for comprehensive immigration reform.

  • Interfaith Immigration Coalition

    The Interfaith Immigration Coalition is a group of faith-based organizations that work for immigration reform and justice. Its umbrella covers 500 national and local faith-based organizations and individuals and includes Mennonite, Jewish, Catholic, Christian, Quaker and Unitarian groups.

Catholics

Among faith groups, the Catholic Church in the United States has always been one of the most vocal and prominent advocates for immigrants. Part of this is due to its size; with more than 65 million Catholics, the church is by far the largest single denomination, and that means the bishops’ views will be given a hearing. But that size is also due to the large and steady influx of Catholics from other countries in the past 200 years. Once it was the Irish and Italians and Eastern Europeans. Today it is immigration from Latin America and Asia that is reinforcing, and transforming, the Catholic Church.

  • Kevin Appleby

    Kevin Appleby is director of the Office of Migration and Refugee Services of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, which works with both grass-roots Catholic groups and the bishops to advocate for immigration reform.

  • David Badillo

    David Badillo is associate professor of Latin American and Puerto Rican studies at Lehman College at the City University of New York and author of Latinos and the New Immigrant Church, about the Catholic Church.

  • William Donohue

    William Donohue is president of the Catholic League for Religious and Civil Rights, an organization that is akin to a Catholic counterpart to the Anti-Defamation League.

  • Virgilio Elizondo

    Virgilio Elizondo is a professor of pastoral and Hispanic theology at the University of Notre Dame and a fellow at the Institute for Latino Studies and Kellogg Institute. He is widely considered the “father of Hispanic theology” and frequently comments on the intersection of Latino culture and religion.

  • Arturo Chavez

    Arturo Chavez is president of the Mexican American Cultural Center in San Antonio, Texas. The center is a leading advocacy group for Latino Catholics and immigrants.

Evangelicals

Evangelicals are often, and mistakenly, viewed as a white, politically conservative bloc of loyal Republicans. But the influx of Latino evangelicals is helping to create splits and tensions among evangelicals in the United States.

  • “Migrating Focus”

    Read a March 22, 2010, story at Christianity Today that discusses the changing demographic and political calculus for evangelicals.

  • Amy Bliss Tenney

    Amy Bliss Tenney is an immigration legal services attorney for World Relief, the development arm of the National Association of Evangelicals. World Relief is involved with refugee resettlement.

    Contact: 443-451-1992.
  • Leith Anderson

    The Rev. Leith Anderson is president of the National Association of Evangelicals and the former senior pastor of Wooddale Church in Eden Prairie, Minn.

    Contact: 202-479-0815.
  • Jim Daly

    Jim Daly is president of Focus on the Family, a global Christian ministry dedicated to helping families thrive. Contact Daly through Focus on the Family vice president of media and public relations Paul Batura.

  • Richard Land

    Richard Land is president of the nondenominational Southern Evangelical Seminary in Charlotte, N.C., and previously served for 25 years as president of the Southern Baptist Convention’s Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission.

  • Samuel Rodriguez

    The Rev. Samuel Rodriguez of Sacramento, Calif., is president of the National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference. He has criticized conservative evangelicals who have spoken against or have remained silent on immigration.

  • Jim Wallis

    The Rev. Jim Wallis is an evangelical author and commentator and the founder of Sojourners magazine, a periodical that tries to promote social change through Christian values. He has served on the White House Advisory Council on Faith-based and Neighborhood Partnerships and can comment on public policy issues.

Judaism

American Jews have traditionally taken a strong stand on behalf of immigrants and refugees because of Judaism’s teachings on the issue and because of the lifeline that immigration – especially to America – has provided for persecuted Jews. Also, Jewish immigrants often faced the same prejudices and difficulties that today’s immigrants face.

  • Ira Mehlman

    Ira Mehlman is media director for the Federation for American Immigration Reform. FAIR advocates for changes in immigration law that would reduce the number of immigrants allowed to enter the United States. Mehlman contends that Jews could face increased anti-Semitism if more immigrants are allowed into the U.S. Contact Mehlman through FAIR press secretary Cassie Williams.

  • Hebrew Immigrant Aid Society

    The Hebrew Immigrant Aid Society has worked since 1881 to provide rescue, resettlement and reunion services to Jews in need throughout the world and to other oppressed migrants. Its headquarters are in New York City. Mark Hetfield is president and CEO. Contact through the form on the website.

Mainline Protestants

Leaders of the mainline Protestant churches and related organizations have generally supported immigration reform, on scriptural and other grounds. These denominations are trying, with varying degrees of success, to attract ethnic and racial minorities to their predominantly white churches. Their support for immigrants is also in keeping with their moderate to liberal political stances.

  • John Fife

    The Rev. John Fife retired in 2005 after serving 30 years as pastor of Southside Presbyterian Church in Tucson, Ariz. Fife works with humanitarian programs, including Humane Borders, that provide food, water and medical care for migrants crossing the Arizona desert. He is co-founder of the immigrant rights group No More Death.

  • Linda Hartke

    Linda Hartke is the president of the Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Service, an organization that serves both the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America and Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod. It helps resettle refugees, protect unaccompanied refugee children, advocate for the just treatment of asylum seekers and seek alternatives to detention for those incarcerated during immigration proceedings.

  • Ricardo Hernandez

    Ricardo Hernandez works on immigrant and refugee rights for the American Friends Service Committee. Contact 215-241-7132.

  • Bill Mefford

    Bill Mefford is director of civil and human rights at the United Methodist General Board of Church & Society.

  • Deborah Stein

    Deborah Stein is the director of the Episcopal Migration Ministries, the refugee resettlement program of the Episcopal Church.

  • Mark Tooley

    Mark Tooley is president of the Institute on Religion & Democracy, an ecumenical alliance working to bring churches’ social witness in line with “biblical and historic Christian teachings.” The organization, which is based in Washington, D.C., has been critical of mainline church agencies and those on the religious left for their position on immigration reform. He has written several articles on gun control and other delicate issues.

  • Rick Ufford-Chase

    Rick Ufford-Chase is the founder of BorderLinks, a nonprofit, faith-based educational organization in Tucson, Ariz., that focuses on cross-border relationship building opportunities, issues of immigration, community formation and development, and social justice in the borderlands between Mexico, the U.S., and beyond. He was also the moderator of the 216th General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.).

African-American Churches

African-American denominations have generally not been outspoken leaders about immigration reform. This reflects a deep concern within the African-American community that immigrants, who tend to migrate to urban centers where African-Americans are concentrated, will hurt blacks on the lower end of the economic ladder because they will accept lower wages, even less than the minimum wage at times.

Muslims

The nation’s Islamic community has been at the center of the immigration debate, though not always for the best reasons. Immigration fears spiked after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks and amid the subsequent war in Iraq and escalating concerns over terror attacks by radical Muslims who might be allowed into the country. Islamic groups have generally supported immigration reform as a way to protect the rights of Muslims and to ensure that they receive equal treatment. Immigrants are also a leading source of new congregants for American mosques. Opponents of immigration often cite concerns about terrorism in order to thwart reforms. Experts say that has made many Muslims and Islamic groups wary of speaking out on behalf of reform legislation.

  • Council on American-Islamic Relations

    The Council on American-Islamic Relations says it is the largest advocacy group for Muslims in the U.S. It advocates for Muslims on issues related to civil liberties and justice. Contact communications director Ibrahim Hooper in Washington, D.C.

  • Khaled Abou El Fadl

    Khaled Abou El Fadl is an internationally recognized law professor and the Omar and Azmeralda Alfi Distinguished Fellow in Islamic Law at the University of California, Los Angeles. He teaches a course on Islamic law and has also taught about Middle Eastern investment law, immigration law and human rights and terrorism. His books include Speaking in God’s Name: Islamic Law, Authority and Women, and he wrote the entry on Shariah for The Oxford University Handbook of Islam and Politics.

Asian and Eastern Religions

Nothing illustrates the potential impact of immigration reform more clearly than the 1965 major immigration overhaul. In 1965, Congress abolished the quotas that had favored Europeans and for much of the century greatly limited immigration from Asia. The subsequent influx of Asians, who brought the pluriform religious traditions of Hinduism and Buddhism, along with Sikhism and other faiths, helped recast American spirituality. Many ethnic and religious leaders from these countries worry that immigration reform will start to close the door on their co-nationals, many of whom are also Muslim. The conundrum for some politicians is that many of the highly skilled workers that the United States needs also come from these Asian countries and are members of these religious communities.

  • “Religious Movements in the United States: An Informal Introduction”

    Read an essay on the New Religious Movements website at the University of Virginia, by Timothy Miller of the University of Kansas. Miller examines the 1965 immigration reform and how it changed American religion and paved the way for New Religious Movements and the many “sects” or “cults” inspired by Eastern spirituality.

  • Dr. Aseem Shukla

    Dr. Aseem Shukla is a urologist and a member of the board of directors of the Hindu American Foundation, a human rights group that says it favors a more humane immigration policy.

National Sources

  • Gregory Chen

    Gregory Chen is director of advocacy with the American Immigration Lawyers Association, which argues for “comprehensive reform that will make immigration safe, orderly, legal and controlled.”

  • Ernie Cortes Jr.

    Ernie Cortes Jr., the recipient of a MacArthur “genius” award, is on the executive team of the Industrial Areas Foundation, which engages in community organizing to encourage social change. He is widely known for developing leadership among Latino immigrant communities.

  • Josh DeWind

    Josh DeWind is program director of the Migration Program of the Social Science Research Council in New York City. He was a founding member of the Center for Immigrants Rights, National Coalition for Haitian Rights and National Immigration Forum.

  • Diana L. Eck

    Diana L. Eck is a professor of comparative religion and Indian studies at Harvard University in Cambridge, Mass. She is one of the foremost scholars of Hinduism, having traveled and written widely about India and its religions. She is also director of Harvard’s Pluralism Project, which explores the religious diversity of the U.S. 

  • Pierrette Hondagneu-Sotelo

    Pierrette Hondagneu-Sotelo is a sociology professor at the University of Southern California and an expert on issues of illegal immigration and the illegal-immigrant rights movement in the United States. She is the author of Doméstica: Immigrant Workers Cleaning and Caring in the Shadows of Affluence.

  • Karen Leonard

    Karen Leonard is an anthropologist at the University of California, Irvine. Her publications include Muslims in the United States: The State of Research and Immigrant Faiths: Transforming Religious Life in America.

  • Peggy Levitt

    Peggy Levitt is a professor of sociology at Wellesley College in Wellesley, Mass., and a research fellow at the Hauser Center for Nonprofit Organizations and the Weatherhead Center for International Affairs at Harvard University. She is the author of several books, including God Needs No Passport: Immigrants and the Changing American Religious Landscape and The Transnational Villagers, and a co-editor of The Changing Face of Home.

  • Ian F. Haney-López

    Ian F. Haney-López is the John H. Boalt Professor of Law at the University of California-Berkeley School of Law. An expert on race relations and law, he is the author of Racism on Trial: The Chicano Fight for Justice (Belknap/Harvard, 2003).

  • Janet Murguía

    Janet Murguia is the president and CEO of the National Council of La Raza, the largest national Hispanic civil rights and advocacy organization in the United States.

  • Jeffrey S. Passel

    Jeffrey S. Passel is a senior demographer for the Pew Hispanic Center, which has conducted research on Latino immigration patterns and Hispanic attitudes toward immigration policy.

  • Jonathan D. Sarna

    Jonathan D. Sarna is professor of American Jewish history at Brandeis University in Waltham, Mass. He is co-author of Religion and State in the American Jewish Experience and author of American Judaism: A History, which won the Jewish Book Council’s Jewish Book of the Year Award in 2004.

  • Manuel A. Vásquez

    Manuel A. Vásquez is an associate professor of religion at the University of Florida and an expert on immigration, especially Latino immigration. He was an editor of the volume Immigrant Faiths: Transforming Religious Life in America. 

  • Fenggang Yang

    Fenggang Yang is a professor of sociology of religion and director of Center on Religion and Chinese Society at Purdue University in West Lafayette, Ind. He has written about the economics of religious shortage in communist China. He wrote the 2011 book Religion in China: Survival and Revival under Communist Rule. He is also an expert in Asian immigration and Eastern religions.

  • Jennifer Johnson

    Jennifer Johnson is a senior associate specializing in Mexico and the U.S./Mexico border with the Latin America Working Group (LAWG), based in Washington, D.C., a nonprofit coalition including many religious groups that encourages the U.S. to develop policies toward Latin America that promote human rights, justice and peace.

  • Third Way Café

    Third Way Café, produced by Mennonite Media on behalf of the Mennonite Churches of the U.S. and Canada, is an organization dedicated to providing educational resources on the history and present day news on Mennonites. The organization has over over 3,000 pages of information and resources on its website. Contact through the website.

Think Tanks and University Centers

  • Center for Immigration Research

    The Center for Immigration Research at the University of Houston previously had a Religion and Migration Project. Jessica Brown is its director.

  • Center for Immigration Studies

    The Center for Immigration Studies is a nonpartisan research organization in Washington, D.C. Many of its researchers have concluded that current high levels of immigration are harming the country. The organization says it’s not anti-immigrant, however; instead, it favors a policy of fewer immigrants but a “warmer welcome for those who are admitted.” Mark Krikorian is executive director.

    Contact: 202-466-8185.
  • Center for Religion & Civic Culture

    The Center for Religion & Civic Culture at the University of Southern California has a principal focus on the study of religion and immigration and its various manifestations. The executive director of the center is Donald E. Miller, Firestone Professor of Religion at USC. Contact Brie Loskota.

  • Immigration & Ethnicity Institute

    The Immigration & Ethnicity Institute at Florida International University has studied issues of religion and immigration.

  • Immigration History Research Center

    The Immigration History Research Center is based at the University of Minnesota. It is an interdisciplinary research center that brings together a variety of scholars. Erika Lee is director.

  • Zolberg Center on Global Migration

    The Zolberg Center on Global Migration is at the New School University in New York City.

  • Migration Program

    The Migration Program of the Social Science Research Council in New York City studies the interrelationship of migration and religion. Josh DeWind is director.

  • Population Studies Center

    The Population Studies Center at the University of Michigan is a leading resource for information about demographic trends in the United States. The center has access to dozens of scholars and experts. It has a page providing links to experts in specific fields.

Regional Sources

In the Northeast

  • George J. Borjas

    George J. Borjas is the Robert W. Scrivner Professor of Economics and Social Policy at Harvard University’s Kennedy School of Government. An immigrant from Cuba, he is the author of Heaven’s Door: Immigration Policy and the American Economy (Princeton University Press, 1999) and supports restrictions on immigration.

  • Thomas Ogletree

    Thomas Ogletree is a United Methodist minister and the Frederick Marquand professor emeritus of theological ethics at Yale Divinity School. He has said he believes the debate over homosexuality indicates the church will eventually change its position.

  • Ada María Isasi-Díaz

    Ada María Isasi-Díaz is a professor of ethics and theology at Drew University in Madison, N.J., and founder and co-director of the Hispanic Institute of Theology. Her interests include mujerista theology and Cuba. She is also a leading voice on Latinas and justice.

  • Douglas S. Massey

    Douglas S. Massey is a professor of sociology and public affairs at Princeton University. He also is co-director of the Mexican Migration Project, which compiles a year-by-year history of Mexican migration to the United States based on interviews with migrants. He is co-author of Beyond Smoke and Mirrors: Mexican Immigration in an Era of Economic Integration (Russell Sage Foundation Publications, 2003).

  • Mark J. Miller

    Mark J. Miller is the Emma Smith Morris Professor of political science and international relations at the University of Delaware. His research focuses on comparative immigration and refugee policies, global migration and migration and security.

  • Joseph Nevins

    Joseph Nevins is an assistant professor of geography at Vassar College in Poughkeepsie, N.Y. He is the author of Operation Gatekeeper: The Rise of the ‘Illegal Alien’ and the Making of the U.S.-Mexico Boundary (Routledge, 2002).

  • James Russell

    James Russell is spokesman for Catholics for a Moral Immigration Policy and the author of Breach of Faith: American Churches and the Immigration Crisis, which decries “out-of-control immigration” and examines “why American churches do so much to further an agenda so obviously harmful to the well being of Middle Americans.” He is based in White Plains, N.Y.

    Contact: 914-747-7355.

In the South

  • Héctor Fernández-L’Hoeste

    Héctor Fernández-L’Hoeste is a professor of modern and classical languages and director of the Center for Latin American and Latino/a Studies at Georgia State University.

  • Jacqueline Hagan

    Jacqueline Hagan is a sociology professor at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Her research interests include religion and migration between Latin America and the U.S. She is the author of Migration Miracle: Faith, Hope and Meaning on the Undocumented Journey (2008).

  • Emilio A. Parrado

    Emilio A. Parrado is the associate director of the Population Studies Center and a professor of sociology at the University of Pennsylvania. He has done research on the impact of immigration both on communities in the United States and in Mexico, including the responses of public schools to rising numbers of Hispanic students.

  • Raleigh Bailey

    Dr. Raleigh Bailey is the founding director of the Center for New North Carolinians, established in 2001 by the University of North Carolina board of governors as a resource to the state university system in immigrant outreach, research, and training.

  • Hernan Prado

    Hernan Prado is the CEO of Hola Latino and the founder, president and CEO of the Alabama Latin American Association.

    Contact: 205-951-0255.
  • Helen Rose Ebaugh

    Helen Rose Ebaugh is a professor of sociology at the University of Houston who specializes in the sociology of religion as well as religion and new immigrants.

  • Ruben Martinez

    Ruben Martinez is a writer, performer and teacher and the son of immigrants — his father is from Mexico, and his mother from El Salvador. Martinez is the author of The New Americans, which tells the stories of seven immigrant families and is the companion book to a PBS series on immigration from 2003. He also wrote Crossing Over: A Mexican Family on the Migrant Trail. Contact  through Susan Bergholz.

  • Harold Recinos

    The Rev. Harold Recinos is a professor of church and society at Southern Methodist University’s Perkins School of Theology in Dallas. He has worked with immigrants in the United States and abroad and studies issues related to immigrants and refugees in the United States.

In the Midwest

  • Oscar Chacón

    Oscar Chacón is the executive director of the National Alliance of Latin American & Caribbean Communities (NALACC) whose mission is to bring about a more equitable and sustainable way of life for Latin American immigrant communities in the U.S.A.

  • Daniel Groody

    The Rev. Daniel Groody is an associate professor of theology at the University of Notre Dame and director of the Center for Latino Spirituality and Culture at the university’s Institute for Latino Studies. He helped produce a documentary film called Dying to Live: A Migrant’s Journey and has spent time along the U.S.-Mexico border interviewing migrants about their spiritual lives. He is the author of several books, including Border of Death, Valley of Life: An Immigrant Journey of Heart and Spirit.

  • Edwin I. Hernández

    Edwin I. Hernández is the director of the Center for Study of Latino Religion at Notre Dame University in South Bend, Ind. The center conducts social-scientific study of the U.S. Latino church, its leadership and the interaction between religion and community.

  • Joshua Hoyt

    Joshua Hoyt is executive director of the National Partnership for News Americans, which works to advance the integration and citizenship of immigrants. Media contact is Charlie McAteer. Until 2013, Hoyt was the chief strategy executive of the Illinois Coalition for Immigrant and Refugee Rights, which supports comprehensive immigration reform, including family reunification and a path to citizenship for undocumented workers. Its members include many religious and interfaith organizations.

  • Timothy Miller

    Timothy Miller is a historian of American religion in the religious studies department at the University of Kansas. His expertise is in new and alternative religions, and he has written about the impact of the influx of Eastern spirituality after the 1965 immigration reform act.

  • Rich Nathan

    Rich Nathan is pastor of Vineyard Church of Columbus in Westerville, Ohio, a congregation of 10,000 that includes members who came from 75 different countries. He has said he’s seen how the immigration system can separate families or prevent them from visiting sick or dying relatives.

  • Luis Alberto Urrea

    Luis Alberto Urrea is a writer and a professor of creative writing at the University of Illinois-Chicago. Urrea, a native of Tijuana, was a finalist for the 2005 Pulitzer Prize for nonfiction for his book The Devil’s Highway: A True Story (Little, Brown & Co., 2004). The book chronicles the attempt 26 Mexican men made in May 2001 to cross the desert into southern Arizona. Only 12 survived.

In the West

  • Wayne Cornelius

    Wayne Cornelius is a distinguished professor emeritus of political science and U.S.-Mexico relations at the University of California at San Diego and the director emeritus of the university’s Center for Comparative Immigration Studies and is co-editor of Controlling Immigration: A Global Perspective (Stanford University Press, 2004).

  • Ben Daniel

    Ben Daniel is pastor of Foothill Presbyterian Church in San Jose, Calif., which has a long tradition of working with the Presbyterian Border Ministry. He is the author of Neighbor: Christian Encounters With “Illegal” Immigration (2010).

    Contact: 408-258-8133.
  • Deborah Lee

    Rev. Deborah Lee is project director for the Interfaith Coalition for Immigrant Rights. That statewide coalition, based in San Francisco, advocates for humane immigration laws.

  • Gastón Espinosa

    Gastón Espinosa, assistant professor of religious studies at Claremont McKenna College in California, specializes in Latino religion and politics.

  • Bryan Fischer

    Bryan Fischer of Idaho is director of issue analysis for government and public policy at the American Family Association, which strives “to reform our culture to reflect Biblical truth on which it was founded.” He has suggested that no more Muslims should be allowed to immigrate to the U.S.

    Contact: 662-844-5036 ext. 227.
  • Victor Davis Hanson

    Victor Davis Hanson is a fifth-generation Californian, a farmer, a classicist and a senior fellow at the Hoover Institution. He is the author of Mexifornia: A State of Becoming (Encounter Books, 2004), in which he argues that California is being transformed by illegal immigration from Mexico. Contact Hanson through the Hoover Institute’s public affairs office.

  • Uriel Iniguez

    Uriel Iniguez is the executive director of the Washington State Commission on Hispanic Affairs which looks to improve public policy development and the delivery of government services to the Hispanic community.

     

  • Daniel J. Tichenor

    Daniel J. Tichenor is the Philip H. Knight professor of social science, senior faculty fellow at the Wayne Morse Center for Law and Politics and a professor of political science at the University of Oregon. He is the author of Dividing Lines: The Politics of Immigration Control in America (Princeton University Press, 2002).

     

  • James A. Tolle

    The Rev. James A. Tolle is former senior pastor of the Church on the Way in Van Nuys, Calif., a congregation that includes many immigrants. Tolle has been active on the immigration reform issue, including testifying before a Senate subcommittee. He has been pastor of the Church on the Way’s Spanish-speaking congregation, La Iglesia en el Camino, and is now pastor of El Camino Metro in Los Angeles.

Related source guides