A major Supreme Court ruling and a decision by President Barack Obama are scrambling the political and religious calculus of the immigration debate. On June 15, the president said he would stop deporting some immigrants who came to the country as children, and the high court’s ruling on a tough Arizona law is due.
Obama’s decision to stop deportations of illegal immigrants who were brought to the country as children but are now productive and law-abiding residents was a way for the president to circumvent the congressional stalemate over the DREAM Act, a bill to overhaul the immigration system.
But it also put immigration at the center of the presidential campaign, as presumptive Republican nominee Mitt Romney sought to offer a counterpoint to Obama’s plan without alienating the GOP base, which tends to favor immigration restrictions over reform.
This all comes as a Supreme Court decision is expected on an Arizona law that is a model for other tough state laws aimed at curbing immigration. The Obama administration argues that Arizona, and other states, are overstepping their boundaries with the measures. Depending on how the high court rules, the decision could halt hard-line state laws or encourage some states to adopt similar measures.
These recent developments are being keenly followed by religious groups, including evangelical organizations that represent a growing concern in that community with reaching out to immigrants.
Other elements that are shaping the debate:
- Immigration to the United States from Mexico has virtually stopped, and there may be some “reverse migration.”
- Asians have replaced Hispanics as the leading immigrant group to the U.S.
- The views of Americans toward immigration are much more positive than they have been in recent years.
- Births among minority groups, mainly Latinos, now outnumber births among whites – a result of immigration and birth rates.
This edition of ReligionLink provides background and resources on this evolving issue.
What’s new: the Supreme Court decision
- See the Supreme Court of the United States blog’s comprehensive coverage of the Arizona v. United States case.
- Read a June 13, 2012, story at Ethics Daily, “If Supreme Court Backs Arizona’s Anti-Immigration Law, What Do Churches Do?”
- Read a May 30, 2012, article from Reuters about the continuing discord in Alabama as a result of the strict immigration law implemented there in 2011.
- Read an April 25, 2012, article from The Washington Post about the Supreme Court justices’ positions on the Arizona immigration law.
- A Feb. 8, 2012, article from the Christian Post cites declining numbers of worshippers in Alabama’s Hispanic congregations.
- Read an Aug. 2, 2011, article from the Christian Post describing Christian leaders’ decision to sue over the Alabama immigration law.
- Read a Dec. 21, 2011, article from Religion News Service about the Alabama governor’s rejection of religious leaders’ pleas to repeal the immigration law.
- In June, a broad coalition of evangelical leaders unveiled an Evangelical Statement of Principles for Immigration Reform, which was seen as an important step in solidifying faith-based support for reform.
- In this June 12, 2012, interview, Focus on the Family’s Jim Daly tells Christianity Today why he joined a coalition of evangelical leaders supporting immigration reform when the organization has not taken a public stance on the issue in the past.
- Read a June 12, 2012, Religion News Service story, “Evangelicals press Congress on immigration.”
- Read a June 11, 2012, story at Catholic World News about the hierarchy’s opposition to an alternative immigration reform bill sponsored by Florida Republican Sen. Marco Rubio.
- Read a May 31, 2012, article from the Catholic News Agency about the 2012 Regional Bishops’ Consultation on Migration, held May 28-30 in Santo Domingo, where bishops denounced certain states’ immigration laws.
- Read a May 23, 2011, article from the Washington Examiner about the coalition of religious groups forming to back Maryland’s version of the DREAM Act.
- A May 10, 2012, article summarized Rubio’s position on immigration reform and the DREAM Act.
- A March 8, 2012, article from Religion New Service describes a study from the Pew Forum on Religion & Public Life that found that Jews are the world’s most migratory group.
- Read a Jan. 19, 2012, essay in Christianity Today, “Will Immigration Slowdown Prompt a Bilingual Ministry Bust?”
- EthicsDaily.com, a division of the Baptist Center for Ethics, released a documentary on immigration, Gospel Without Borders. The film was produced primarily with funding from the United Methodist Foundation of Arkansas but features religious leaders from various denominations.
- Southern Baptist delegates in Phoenix, gathered for the Southern Baptist Convention’s annual meeting, adopted a resolution on immigration June 15, 2011, after sharp debates and divided votes on amendments regarding amnesty and enforcement. Read about it in stories from the Associated Baptist Press and Ethics Daily and in a Houston Chronicle blog post.
- Russell D. Moore, dean of the School of Theology at the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, wrote a June 20, 2011, column in The Christian Post, “Immigration and the Gospel,” that calls on evangelicals to be welcoming to immigrants.
- Read a June 20, 2011, story at Religion Dispatches, “As Mormon Lay Clergy Are Deported, a Divide on Immigration.”
- The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints on June 10, 2011, issued a statement saying that immigration reform was a job for the federal government and that the Mormon leadership “is concerned that any state legislation that only contains enforcement provisions is likely to fall short of the high moral standard of treating each other as children of God.”
- Read a Feb. 10, 2011, Catholic News Service story about sharp criticism of anti-immigration rhetoric from the leading Catholic prelates in Los Angeles.
- Read a Jan. 24, 2011, statement from the Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Service saying the agency is “gravely concerned that the punitive immigration bills being considered by many state legislatures would contradict the biblical mandate to care for sojourners in our midst.”
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.
Background and resources
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 recent research.
References for further research
- The White House website has a fact sheet on the DREAM Act laying out the arguments for the legislation.
- An analysis released Sept. 1, 2010, by the Pew Hispanic Center shows the annual influx of undocumented immigrants to the United States was nearly two-thirds smaller in the March 2007 to March 2009 period than it had been from March 2000 to March 2005.
- Pew also has a map (2011) of unauthorized immigrants in the U.S. with state-by-state data.
- Obama pushed for immigration reform in a major speech July 1, 2010, at the American University School of International Service in Washington, D.C. Read the official text of the address.
- Read a column at the website of the monthly magazine U.S. Catholic, titled “Uncertain status: 15 myths about immigration.”
- Read a July 21, 2010, discussion among religious leaders on immigration reform, hosted by the Council on Foreign Relations.
- On May 11, 2010, an unusually broad range of evangelical leaders released a joint statement that calls for a “just immigration policy” that “begins with securing, not closing, our borders, one that provides a temporary guest-worker program, and one that offers a pathway for earned legal citizenship or temporary residency.”
- On May 12, 2010, Richard Land and Barrett Duke of the Southern Baptist Convention’s Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission released the draft of “A White Paper: Principles for Just Immigration Reform.” The draft builds on previous statements by viewing immigrants and immigration reform in a positive light and is very much in line with what other evangelicals are saying, as a Christianity Today blog post notes (scroll down).
- Read a Religion News Service story, “Evangelicals Find New Unity on Immigration,” posted May 14, 2010, at the website of Christianity Today.
- A post at USA Today‘s Faith & Reason blog explains how provision in some proposals to benefit same-sex immigrant couples could become a major stumbling block for certain religious groups.
- Read “5 myths about immigration,” a May 2, 2010, feature in The Washington Post by Doris Meissner, a senior fellow at the Migration Policy Institute, who served as commissioner of the U.S. Immigration and Naturalization Service from 1993 to 2000.
- An April 30, 2010, Salt Lake Tribune article examines Mormons’ varying views on immigration reform.
- Read a March 20, 2010, post at USA Today‘s Faith & reason blog, titled “Is immigration reform a biblical imperative?”
- Read a Jan. 27, 2010, story in The Forward, “Immigration Debate Prompts Growing Jewish-Latino Ties.”
- The Council on Foreign Relations has a web page listing a number of immigration experts and their contact information.
- The libertarian Cato Institute in 2009 released a study claiming that legalizing undocumented workers in the United States would bring an added $180 billion to the U.S. economy during the next decade, while only toughening laws and tightening borders would actually hurt American households economically.
- Read about a 2009 study on churches’ outreach to first-generation immigrants in North America. LifeWay Research conducted the analysis for the North American Mission Board, the domestic missions agency of the Southern Baptist Convention.
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.
- A Gallup poll released Dec. 10, 2010, shows that a slim majority of Americans polled, 54 percent, would vote for granting legal status to illegal immigrants brought to the U.S. as children, which is the centerpiece of the DREAM Act.
- See a May 4, 2010, story about a New York Times/CBS survey on immigration, “Poll Shows Most in U.S. Want Overhaul of Immigration Laws.”
- See a May 4, 2010, analysis of a USA Today/Gallup poll, “Americans Value Both Aspects of Immigration Reform.”
- See an April 29, 2010, Gallup poll analysis, “More Americans Favor Than Oppose Arizona Immigration Law.”
- A March 2010 survey by the Public Religion Research Institute found broad support across religious groups for comprehensive immigration reform and strong approval for clergy speaking out on the issue. .
- In December 2009, the Center for Immigration Studies released results of a poll conducted by Zogby International. Among its findings: Many people of faith want overall immigration reduced, regardless of what their religious leaders are advocating on the issue. The findings drew criticism from the Public Religion Research Institute.
- The Pew Research Center has an archive of reports, polls and news stories on immigration, with particular attention to the role of religion. The Pew Hispanic Center does research and polls pertaining to immigration as well.
- Read “Changing Faiths: Latinos and the Transformation of American Religion,” a 2007 joint survey by the Pew Hispanic Project and the Pew Forum on Religion & Public Life.
- The Gallup Poll (subscription required on some articles) has surveys on overall views of immigration.
- PollingReport.com has a roundup of surveys on Americans’ views toward immigrants and immigration.
For more sources and background, see ReligionLink’s issues on:
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:
Faith organizations such as Interfaith Alliance, Sojourners and the Interfaith Coalition for Immigrant Rights work closely with immigration advocacy groups such as the National Network for Immigrant and Refugee Rights and the National Immigration Forum.
- Faith in Public Life, another interfaith group, is a social justice lobby that describes itself as “a strategy center advancing faith in the public square as a positive and unifying force for justice, compassion and the common good.” Faith in Public Life has helped organize rallies, publicized the March 2010 immigration march and hosted teleconferences with religious leaders. The group’s newsroom has links to various news releases and stories about faith leaders and the immigration issue. Jennifer Butler is executive director. Contact through Katie Paris, Senior Advisor or Casey Schoeneberger Media Relations Assistant at 202-569-4254, firstname.lastname@example.org.
- Christians for Comprehensive Immigration Reform describes itself as “a coalition of Christian organizations, churches, and leaders from across the theological and political spectrum” that is “working together to see fair and humane immigration reform enacted in Congress this year because we share a set of common moral and theological principles that compel us to love, care for, and seek justice for the stranger among us.” Contact campaign coordinator Ivone Guillen at 202.328.8842 or through the website.
- 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. Contact media director Stephen Boykewich, 917-686-2426, email@example.com.
- The Interfaith Immigration Coalition seeks immigration reform “that reflects our mandate to welcome the stranger and treat all human beings with dignity and respect.” The coalition has a “DREAM Sabbath toolkit” to help congregations wanting to participate. Contact Liza Lieberman, firstname.lastname@example.org, or Jen Smyers, email@example.com.
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 is director of the Office of Migration Policy and Public Affairs for the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ Office of Migration and Refugee Services, which works with both grass-roots Catholic groups and the bishops to advocate for immigration reform. Contact 202-541-3065, firstname.lastname@example.org.
- 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. Contact 718-960-6923, email@example.com.
- Nancy and Dick Bureson are lay missionaries working with Church Without Borders, a joint project of the Roman Catholic Diocese of San Diego and the Maryknoll Lay Missioners. The project brings Catholics from the United States across the border into Tijuana to visit impoverished neighborhoods and to consider a faithful response. Contact 858-270-8007, firstname.lastname@example.org.
- The Rev. Jaime Soto is Chairman of Secretariat of Cultural Diversity in the Church. The office focuses on a number of church ministries, including the pastoral care of migrants, refugees and travelers. He has commented on the importance of Hispanics to the Catholic Church in the U.S. Contact 202-541-3000.
- William Donohue is president of the Catholic League for Religious and Civil Rights. He has said that if the Catholic Church wants to restore its credibility in the U.S., particularly among Latinos, it needs to speak out on issues such as immigration. Contact 212-371-3191, email@example.com.
- The Rev. Virgilio Elizondo is professor of pastoral and Hispanic theology at the University of Notre Dame. He founded the Mexican American Cultural Center in San Antonio, Texas, and is widely considered the “father of Hispanic theology.” Contact 574-631-4741, Virgilio.P.Elizondo.firstname.lastname@example.org.
- 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. Contact 210-732-2156.
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.
- Read a March 22, 2010, story at Christianity Today, titled “Migrating Focus,” that discusses the changing demographic and political calculus for evangelicals.
- Amy Bliss is 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, email@example.com. World Relief Press Contact is Candace Shreve, CShreve@wr.org, 443.451.1911.
- Leith Anderson is president of the National Association of Evangelicals, which is calling for bipartisan immigration reform. Galen Carey is director of government affairs for the NAE and point person on immigration reform. Contact through Sarah Kropp, 202-789-1011.
- Jim Daly is president of Focus on the Family, and Tom Minnery is the organization’s vice president for public policy. Minnery told CNN in a May 2010 email about immigration that “We’ve been looking into this deeply but aren’t ready to discuss our position, assuming we’ll get to one.” Monica Schleicher (719) 648-4590
- Richard Land is president and chief executive officer of the Southern Baptist Convention’s Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission. Contact Elizabeth Wood, 615-782-8417, firstname.lastname@example.org.
- 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. Contact 916-919-7476, email@example.com.
- The Rev. Jim Wallis is founder of Sojourners and a backer of immigration reform. Contact through Communications Associate Carrie Adams 202-745-4654 firstname.lastname@example.org.
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.
- Gideon Aronoff is president and CEO of the Hebrew Immigrant Aid Society, which supports immigration reform because of Jewish religious and ethical principles. Aronoff has said that some of the same arguments used against Latino immigrants today have historically been used against Jews. Contact 202-828-5115, Gideon.email@example.com.
- Ira Mehlman is media director for the Federation for American Immigration Reform and is co-founder of the American Jewish Immigration Policy Institute. Unlike most Jewish leaders, Mehlman advocates for changes in immigration law that would reduce the number of immigrants allowed to enter this country. He contends that Jews could face increased anti-Semitism if more immigrants are allowed into the U.S. Contact 310-821-4283, firstname.lastname@example.org.
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.
- The Rev. John Fife retired in 2005 after serving 30 years as pastor of Southside Presbyterian Church in Tucson. Fife works with humanitarian programs, including Humane Borders, that provide food, water and medical care for migrants crossing the Arizona desert. Contact 520-882-4879, email@example.com.
- Linda Hartke is president and CEO of 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. Contact in Baltimore at 410-230-2700.
- Ricardo Hernandez works on immigrant and refugee rights for the American Friends Service Committee. Contact 215-241-7132.
- Bill Mefford is director of civil and human rights at the United Methodist General Board of Church & Society, which has posted a toolkit online for congregations wishing to observe a DREAM Sabbath. Contact (202) 488-5657, firstname.lastname@example.org.
- Deborah Stein is director of Episcopal Migration Ministries. Contact 212-716-6258.
- 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. Tooley spoke out against the March 2010 immigration march on the capital. Contact 202-682-4131, email@example.com.
- Rick Ufford-Chase is executive director of Presbyterian Peace Fellowship. He is a founder of BorderLinks, a not-for-profit, faith-based group that offers travel seminars – a firsthand “immersion experience” – for people wanting to understand U.S.-Mexico border issues. Contact 520-882-8190, firstname.lastname@example.org.
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.
- Read a March 21, 2010, Huffington Post column on whether the black church supports immigration reform.
- Read a June 13, 2007, New York Times story, “Village Takes a More Hospitable Approach to Day Laborers,” about an African-American congregation in Mamaroneck, N.Y., that serves as an official hiring site for largely Hispanic day laborers. One expert says very few of the nation’s hiring sites are associated with African-American churches.
- Listen to an April 3, 2006, Talk of the Nation program on National Public Radio about the contentious issues of African-Americans, immigration and social justice.
- David W. Wills is a professor of American history and American studies specializing in religion and black studies at Amherst College in Massachusetts. Wills is author of the chapter “Exodus Piety: African American Religion in an Age of Immigration” in the book Minority Faiths and the American Protestant Mainstream. Contact 413-542-2470, email@example.com.
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.
- The Council on American-Islamic Relations is a leading Muslim advocacy group. Its Arizona chapter condemned that state’s new immigration law. Contact the Arizona chairman, Anas Hlayhel, firstname.lastname@example.org.
- Khaled M. Abou El Fadl is an Islamic law professor at the University of California, Los Angeles, and he also teaches courses in immigration law, human rights law and terrorism. He gave testimony to the 9/11 Commission regarding Muslim views on immigration reform and the impact of stricter immigration enforcement on Muslims. Contact email@example.com.
- See a ReligionLink source list on Islam for resources and experts on American Muslims.
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.
- 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 is a urologist and a member of the board of directors of the Hindu American Foundation, a human rights group that favors a more humane immigration policy. Contact 904-424-9442, firstname.lastname@example.org.
- See a ReligionLink source list on Hinduism.
- See a ReligionLink edition on Sikhs.
- See a ReligionLink edition on Buddhism.
- 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.” Contact 202-507-7600, email@example.com.
- 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. Contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
- 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. Contact 212-377-2700 ext. 603, email@example.com.
- Diana L. Eck is a professor of comparative religion and Indian studies in the faculty of arts and sciences at Harvard Divinity School. She specializes in religious pluralism in a multireligious society and since 1991 has headed the Pluralism Project. She is the author of A New Religious America: How A “Christian Country” Has Become the World’s Most Religiously Diverse Nation. Contact 617-493-1600, or a departmental assistant at 617-495-5781, or firstname.lastname@example.org.
- 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. Contact 213-740-3606 or 213-740-3533, email@example.com.
- Karen Isaksen Leonard is an anthropology professor at the University of California, Irvine, and editor of the book Immigrant Faiths: Transforming Religious Life in America. Contact 949-824-7602, firstname.lastname@example.org.
- Peggy Levitt is an associate professor of sociology at Wellesley College in Wellesley, Mass., and author of God Needs No Passport: Immigrants and the Changing American Religious Landscape. She is also 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 The Transnational Villagers and a co-editor of The Changing Face of Home. Contact 781-283-2186, email@example.com.
- Ian F. Haney López is a law professor at the University of California, Berkeley. An expert on race relations and law, he wrote the book Racism on Trial: The Chicano Fight for Justice. Contact 510-643-2669, firstname.lastname@example.org.
- Janet Murguía is president of the National Council of La Raza, the largest national Hispanic civil rights and advocacy organization in the United States. Contact her in the Washington, D.C., office, 202-785-1670. La Raza also has regional offices.
- Jeffrey S. Passel is senior demographer at the Pew Hispanic Center, which has conducted research on Latino immigration patterns and Hispanic attitudes toward immigration policy. Contact 202-419-3606, email@example.com.
- Jonathan D. Sarna is the Joseph H. & Belle R. Braun Professor of American Jewish History at Brandeis University in Waltham, Mass., and director of its Hornstein Jewish Professional Leadership Program. He wrote American Judaism: A History, winner of the Jewish Book Council’s Jewish Book of the Year Award in 2004. Contact 781-736-2977, firstname.lastname@example.org.
- 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. Contact 352-392-1625, email@example.com.
- Fenggang Yang is a professor of sociology at Purdue University in West Lafayette, Ind., and an expert in Asian immigration and Eastern religions. Contact 765-494-2641, firstname.lastname@example.org.
THINK TANKS AND UNIVERSITY CENTERS
- The Center for Immigration Research at the University of Houston previously had a Religion and Migration Project. One of the project’s leaders was sociology professor Helen Rose Ebaugh, whose research interests include religion and new immigrants. Contact 713-743-3952, email@example.com.
- 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.
- 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 213-740-0278, firstname.lastname@example.org.
- The Immigration & Ethnicity Institute at Florida International University has studied issues of religion and immigration. The institute is headed by Alex Stepick, a professor of anthropology and sociology at FIU. Contact 305-348-2247, email@example.com.
- 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. Donna R. Gabaccia, a history professor at the university, is executive director. Contact 612-625-5573, firstname.lastname@example.org.
- The International Center for Migration, Ethnicity and Citizenship is at the New School University in New York City. Alexandra Delano is coordinator. Contact 212-229-5399, email@example.com.
- The Migration Program of the Social Science Research Council in New York City studies the interrelationship of migration and religion. Josh DeWind is director. Contact 212-377-2700 ext. 603, firstname.lastname@example.org.
- 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.
- 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 and supports restrictions on immigration. He also blogs on the subject. Contact 617-495-1393, email@example.com.
- Thomas W. Ogletree is a professor of theological ethics at Yale Divinity School in New Haven, Conn. He wrote a 1998 article, “Recreating America: The Ethics of US Immigration Policy in a Christian Perspective,” for the Journal of the American Academy of Religion. Contact 203-432-5337, firstname.lastname@example.org.
- Jennifer Johnson is a senior associate specializing in Mexico and the U.S.-Mexico border region with the Latin America Working Group, based in Washington, D.C. That nonprofit coalition — including religious groups ranging from Jews to Quakers to Unitarians to Mennonites — encourages the U.S. to develop policies toward Latin America that promote human rights, justice and peace. Contact 202-546-7010, email@example.com.
- 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 wrote a paper on U.S.-Mexican border policy published in September 2005 by the Immigration Policy Center of the American Immigration Law Foundation, in which he argues that “punitive immigration and border policies tend to backfire.” He is co-author of Beyond Smoke and Mirrors: Mexican Immigration in an Era of Economic Integration. Contact 609-258-4949, firstname.lastname@example.org.
- Mark J. Miller, a professor of political science and international relations at the University of Delaware, is senior consulting editor of the International Migration Review. That quarterly review is published by the Center for Migration Studies in New York, which studies human migration and refugee movements. Contact 302-831-1926, email@example.com.
- Joseph Nevins is an associate professor of geography at Vassar College. He is the author of Operation Gatekeeper: The Rise of the “Illegal Alien” and the Making of the U.S.-Mexico Boundary. Nevins wrote in the Christian Science Monitor in August 2005 that at least 3,000 migrants had died crossing the Arizona desert in the previous decade – and that the deaths would continue unless immigration policy changed. Contact 845-437-7823, firstname.lastname@example.org.
- 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, email@example.com.
- Raleigh Bailey is director of the Center for New North Carolinians. The University of North Carolina at Greensboro created the center in 2001 to deal with immigrant issues, in a state that saw a 400 percent increase in Hispanic population between 1990 and 2000. Contact 336-501-7981, firstname.lastname@example.org.
- Héctor Fernández L’Hoeste is associate professor in the modern and classical languages department at Georgia State University and director of the university’s Center for Latin American and Latino/a Studies. Contact 404-651-2265, Fernandez@gsu.edu.
- 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). Contact 919-962-2327, email@example.com.
- David Coffey was director of educational enhancement programs at Western Kentucky University. He has studied the impact of Latino immigration on Kentucky’s economy – the number of Hispanics in the area has tripled, he says – and has taught Spanish to Kentucky farmers and English to recent immigrants who work in restaurants, in the fields and roofing houses. Contact 270-781-2426, firstname.lastname@example.org.
- Hernan Prado is founder and president of the Alabama Latin American Association. Since 1990, according to a 2004 series in the Birmingham Post-Herald, Alabama has seen an explosion in its Hispanic population, and a report released in July 2005 by the Pew Hispanic Center found that the Hispanic population is growing faster in the South than anywhere else in the U.S. Contact 205-951-0255, email@example.com.
- Oscar Chacón is executive director of the Chicago-based National Alliance of Latin American & Caribbean Communities. Contact 877-683-2908 or email through the website.
- 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 wrote the book Border of Death, Valley of Life: An Immigrant Journey of Heart and Spirit. Contact 574-631-3233, firstname.lastname@example.org.
- Edwin I. Hernández is director of the Center for the Study of Latino Religion at Notre Dame University in South Bend, Ind. The center conducts social-scientific studies of the U.S. Latino church, its leadership and the interaction between religion and community. Contact 574-631-8558, Edwin.I.Hernandez.email@example.com.
- Joshua Hoyt is chief strategy executive and former director 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 120 members include Muslim, Christian, Jewish and interfaith organizations. Contact 312-332-7360 ext. 211, firstname.lastname@example.org.
- 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. Contact 785-864-7263, email@example.com.
- 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. Contact 614-259-5313, firstname.lastname@example.org.
- Luis Alberto Urrea, a poet, essayist and native of Tijuana, was a finalist for the 2005 Pulitzer Prize for nonfiction for his book The Devil’s Highway: A True Story. The book chronicles the attempt 26 Mexican men made in May 2001 to cross the desert into southern Arizona. Only 12 survived. Urrea also is a professor of creative writing at the University of Illinois-Chicago. Contact email@example.com or through Elizabeth Garriga at Little, Brown, 212-364-1292, firstname.lastname@example.org.
- Helen Rose Ebaugh is a sociology professor at the University of Houston Her research interests include religion and new immigrants. Contact 713-743-3952, Ebaugh@uh.edu.
- Ruben Martinez, an associate professor in the creative writing program at the University of Houston, is the son of immigrants; his father is from Mexico, and his mother from El Salvador. He 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’s also the author of Crossing Over: A Mexican Family on the Migrant Trail. Contact 213-804-4682, email@example.com.
- No More Deaths is a Tucson-based coalition of individuals, congregations and human rights advocates formed in response to the deaths of migrants crossing the desert in southern Arizona. No More Deaths volunteers help staff water and medical-assistance stations in the Sonoran desert and patrol the desert to search for migrants in distress. Contact 520-495-5583, firstname.lastname@example.org.
- The Rev. Harold Recinos is professor of church and society at Perkins School of Theology at Southern Methodist University 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. Contact 214-768-1773, email@example.com.
- Wayne Cornelius is professor emeritus of political science and U.S.-Mexican relations at the University of California at San Diego. He also is director emeritus of the university’s Center for Comparative Immigration Studies and is co-editor of Controlling Immigration: A Global Perspective. Contact 858-822-4447, firstname.lastname@example.org.
- 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 or through his blog.
- Moises Escalante is health and benefits access education coordinator for the Interfaith Coalition for Immigrant Rights. That statewide coalition, based in San Francisco, advocates for humane immigration laws. Contact 213-480-8800, email@example.com.
- Gaston Espinosa, associate professor of religious studies at Claremont McKenna College in California, specializes in Latino religion, politics and immigration. Contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
- 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 through Cindy Roberts, 662-844-5036 ext. 227, or email through the website.
- Victor Davis Hanson is a fifth-generation Californian, a farmer, a classicist and a senior fellow at the Hoover Institution. He wrote the book Mexifornia: A State of Becoming, in which he argues that California is being transformed by illegal immigration from Mexico. Contact preferred by email only at email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org.
- Uriel Iñiguez is executive director of the Washington State Commission on Hispanic Affairs. Contact 800-443-0294 or 360-725-5661, Hispanic@cha.wa.gov.
- Daniel J. Tichenor is a political science professor at the University of Oregon. He is the author of Dividing Lines: The Politics of Immigration Control in America and the forthcoming Faustian Bargains: The Origins and Development of America’s Illegal Immigration Dilemma. Contact 541-346-4707, email@example.com.
- The Rev. James A. Tolle is the 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 reform issue, including testifying before a Senate subcommittee, and is now pastor of The Church on the Way’s Spanish-speaking congregation, La Iglesia en el Camino. Contact 818-779-8400.