JONAH and Immigration Justice

by Robbie Joern, Coordinator of Mission and Outreach

Two recent installments of First Lutheran's Community Conversations Series have tackled the issue of immigration in the United States. Our first immigration-themed conversation was called: "Living in the Shadows: Understanding Comprehensive Immigration Reform". We heard speakers who enlightened us from a global, state and local perspective. During our second immigration conversation we witnessed the more personal impact of immigration with "In Their Own Words: Immigration Journey Stories", during which our guests told us their immigration stories, from a WWII bride to a current bride from Italy, to more who have recently arrived from Mexico. They explained the difficulties they encountered as people trying to improve their lot in life, join a family waiting for them in the U.S., and ultimately growing agricultural, manufacturing and industrial livelihood in Wisconsin.

These two Community Conversations helped to bring about the formation of JONAH's Immigration Justice Task Force. This Task Force has explored ways to understand the complexities of our current national immigration system,  and now asks questions such as, "How can we, as people of faith, respond to the immigrants of today as God responded to those in Biblical stories?" How are we asked to treat the sojourners of our time and place?

Immigrants in this country face many challenges, such as that of transportation in their daily lives when they are unable to get a driver's license due to difficulties that originate in our current immigration laws. Many choose to risk driving without a license in order to get to work or to medical appointments, to buy groceries or attend parent/teacher conferences; things many of us who have driver's licenses take for granted. We've heard in our conversations that those in these situations would much prefer to have driver's licenses, or at least driver's cards that would enable them to drive legally after passing driving tests. This would also enable them to purchase insurance coverage and, thereby, make the roads safer for everyone.

JONAH is pleased to present an opportunity for you to get involved. Will you consider signing a petition to the State of Wisconsin encouraging our elected officials to join ten other states in enacting legislation in support of driver's cards? The petition will be available at First Lutheran following worship on Sunday, October 26 and during the week on the board outside the church office. We also encourage you to view our video interview of Father Derek of St. Mary's in Altoona, who works with a Hispanic/Latino congregation in his parish. Check it out on YouTube: