Report Back: Immigration Workshop at St. Thomas Episcopal Church

BY: THE REV. JOHN BEACH, St. Thomas Episcopal Church

Image Description: A group of about twenty Clergy and lay people sit in chairs and listen to a speaker who stands at the front of the room.

Image Description: A group of about twenty Clergy and lay people sit in chairs and listen to a speaker who stands at the front of the room.

Report on the Immigration Workshop at St. Thomas Episcopal Church

Sponsored by The Greater Taunton Clergy Association

On March 7th, 40 persons from faith community, social services, and other supportive organizations gathered for a day to learn about current immigration policies and standards and to discern how we might best minister to those who are in vulnerable situations.

We enjoyed presentations by Patricia Sobalvarro, Damaris Velasquez and Vilma Galvez (from Agencia ALPHA) who spoke of the forces which cause people to migrate, the evolution of U.S. immigration policy, and the impact immigrants have had in their new homes. This was followed by a conversation led by Dax Crocker (Lead Organizer at Episcopal City Mission) on spiritual and social values which are embodied in our current immigration policy.

The U.S., like most other western countries, has become terrified of the demographic changes which are occurring as the result of large scale migration. As a people, we have become easily manipulated by those who would exploit our fears to achieve political power. It is easy to lose sight of those who are struggling to make a safe home for their family in what is, often, a hostile land.

This workshop provided an opportunity to begin a badly needed conversation on how we can work together to establish a just and compassionate response to growing number of desperate people who are trying to make a home in this country. We considered the many ways in which we are a safer, more prosperous, and more just society because of role played by recent immigrants in our community. Our culture has become richer because of our diversity.  It is my hope and expectation that this workshop will equip church groups and all persons of good faith to work towards a thoughtful and compassionate immigration policy.