Youth group trips are a special thing in themselves, but Christian Citizenship Seminar (CCS) is even more unique in the fact that its attendees get to learn and take political action about a certain topic. At this year's Christian Citizenship Seminar, a few main points have continued to be ingrained in our minds. We learned that as Christians it is important to care for people whether they are documented or not, that immigrants are helping our economy rather than hurting it, and that there is no justified reason to keep immigrants out.
A sermon was about caring for the flock without being particular about who you are helping--this includes immigrants. One of our speakers, a pastor from Judson Memorial Church and long time political activist, told us the story of around 30 female police officers throughout New York City who have volunteered to answer calls of help from undocumented immigrants who are being abused. In order to keep them from being deported, the officers have to keep the visits off the books. In other words, the officers choose what they believe is morally right to take precedence over the steps that the broken immigration system calls them to take.
While it may seem inconsequential to deport undocumented immigrants, an estimated 11 million are already living in the United States. Their jobs mainly involve manual labor, agriculture, the restaurant business, and domestic help. One frequent argument used against immigrants living in the US is that they are taking available jobs away from “born and bred” Americans. To the contrary, approximately $6 billion to $7 billion worth of Social Security tax is paid by undocumented workers each year. This statistic does not include the millions of dollars of wages that are paid under the table.
The truth is that documented and undocumented workers alike do the jobs that not many American citizens would care to do themselves. In addition, Social Security taxes from undocumented workers will never come to fruition for themselves; the money goes into a large pool doled out among legal citizens. In essence, those undocumented immigrants are paying for the rest of us to retire.
To better understand the issue, we met with someone who has first-hand experience working with the personal and political aspects of the immigration issue--Julia Chavez Rodriguez, the daughter of Cesar Chavez. We witnessed how she connects with groups across the country and gathers stories in order to put a human face on President Obama's policies. A main point of hers was that there aren't any quality arguments to justify keeping immigrants out.
The two issues that bring the most contention are not having a personal connection to an immigrant family and being uneducated about the matter. As in many other cases, misinformation leads to fear. Some say that the immigration system is “broken,” but several prominent figures suspect that the complicated governmental pyramid is forming immigration policies to be purposefully vague in order to create a stalemate. That fragile political environment makes it easy to score political points as a politician. A politician's stance on immigration can affect their whole platform and change the outcome of a race.
Most importantly, we understood that the best thing we can do for this issue is to take what we have learned with us, in order to use it later in life when the opportunity arises.
-- Corrie Osborne is a senior high youth at Manchester Church of the Brethren in North Manchester, Ind.
Source: 5/13/2015 Newsline