TUMW Speaker Lyda Pierce

UMW Learns about Immigration Reform
by Kathy Bogue
On April 23 we gathered with friends and neighbors to hear Rev. Lyda Pierce share with us the issues surrounding immigration in our country, and thoughts about compassionate immigration reform.  A powerful video, “Jasmine’s Story”, recounted the ways that families are affected by immigration raids and subsequent deportations.  Another short video described the surprising profit motives surrounding deportation centers, the private corporations who run them, and the groups who lobby for them.
Everyone agrees that when immigrants come to our country they should come here legally.  We learned how this is made complex by livelihoods eliminated by NAFTA, financial requirements of legal immigration, immigration quotas, and many other issues that turn black and white into grey. 
Three volunteers with the Kitsap Immigrant Assistance Center were present and corroborated with their experience many points made by our speaker.  They work to connect immigrants with local services, including medical and legal services.  (Did you know there is only one immigration attorney in all of Kitsap County?) One of the reforms they are working toward is to convince Kitsap County law enforcement to follow in the footsteps of King County and other jurisdictions around the country in not reporting minor offenders to Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), where undocumented immigrants can be held for months without benefit of due process.  (Did you know that being an immigrant without documentation is an infraction, not a criminal offense?)
I learned a lot, and gained a new appreciation for the complexities of this issue.  Solutions do not begin and end with preventing entry and deporting undocumented immigrants.  There are economic and political issues that need to be addressed at the same time.  As I read the news and hear about immigration reform, I will be paying attention to where compassion enters the discussion.  That’s what I will pray for, and that’s what I will encourage my legislators to vote for.
For more information from the United Methodist Church about immigration reform, look on the UMW  website at http://prod.umwomen.org:88/what-we-do/service-and-advocacy/mission-focus-issues/global-migration,