The Magazine of The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America


Learn from ICE raid

Two ELCA pastors called on the U.S. Congess to evaluate the nation’s immigration system and use the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement raid in Postville, Iowa, to develop a new approach for immigration raids.

Last May federal agents arrested about 390 workers at a meat processing plant there — the largest raid at a single location in U.S. history.

Stephen P. Brackett and David J. Vasquez said Postville is now an economically, emotionally and socially devastated community since the raid.

Brackett, pastor of St. Paul Lutheran Church in Postville, said Christians have an obligation to call attention to the moral dimensions of public policy related to immigration. He said the current immigration system “harms families, hurts communities and assigns blame to all the wrong places.”

Vasquez, campus pastor at nearby Luther College, Decorah, Iowa, said Postville is the “whipping boy of a misguided immigration system.”


Gary L. Dick

Gary L. Dick

Posted at 1:15 pm (U.S. Eastern) 2/5/2009

Dear The Lutheran Editorial Staff and ELCA members:

 RE: Learn from ICE raid.  Those who are in America illegally are criminals.  Those who hire them and exploit them (and yes, they are exploted to the max) are criminals in violation of U.S. law.  If those here illegally are arrested and deported, I can't shed a tear.  Why do I feel this way?  I am a U.S. citizen.  To work where I work, I have to show U.S. citizenship or a valid green card.  I will not be allowed to work without it.  The law says so.  I know for a fact that illegal workers fill jobs that could be taken by U.S. citizens.  If companies cannot entice U.S. citizens to work under harsh conditions for long hours, then they need to offer more pay as incentive.  I know for a fact that in recent history, some of these meat-packing, harvesting, construction jobs, and similar were taken by U.S. high school and college students.  It is my belief that some U.S. labor laws now preclude young adults from working the hours and under the conditions imposed by those laws.

In the article Stephen P. Brackett says "...Christians have an obligation to call attention to the moral dimensions of public policy related to immigration".  The moral issue here is that there is a group of people here in our country illegally, and they are illegally employed.  End of story.  Deport the illegals and fine or shut down the company who hired them.

Now, I am also a Christian and I do have compassion for workers from all walks of life.  We have an immigration problem.  I have a neighbor from Canada who is taking great pains and having great patience going through proper channels to get his green card -- and yes, he is very gainfully employed.  He is a legal worker.  He cannot get the card and due to economic cutbacks at his company he is in danger of having to leave.  The illegal worker/immigrant problem is a direct affront to those going through proper channels.

It is my belief that the current system and lack of enforcement does hurt families and workers.  It sends false signals to those here illegally, and it hurts our American work force and those attempting to go through proper channels even worse.  The bottome line of my comments and the Currents item is this:  "Postville is the "whipping boy of a misguided immigration system"".  And, rightfully so.  What do they expect, an award for trying to thwart the immigration and legal systems?


Gary Dick, Longmont, CO

Neil Solvik

Neil Solvik

Posted at 3:09 pm (U.S. Eastern) 2/10/2009

I feel the way illegals are arrested and taken away causes me to feel the system is wrong. Part of the proceedure reminds me of Nazi Germany when Jews were arrested. On the other hand illegals who are arrested for breaking the law are put in jail and not deported. Two questions come to mind, "How can we take care of the innocent family members", and "can we make sure that the deported have identication with them so that they can be treated right when they are back down south." Should we also make it easier to become legal workers?" As we have heard, "We have a problem Huston.!"


Katherine Harms

Katherine Harms

Posted at 9:02 pm (U.S. Eastern) 2/10/2009

In every time and every place, humans have placed high value on honor and integrity. Abiding by the law of the land has always been the mark of a person of character. Visitors who are not citizens of a land have always been expected to abide by the law of the land they visit. This is not cruel; it is common sense. God has ordained government to corral evil and assure public safety and order.The apostle Paul worked within the law of an autocratic and even vicious government, and he never advocated that Christians ignore its laws or disobey when they were inconvenient.

 Immigrants who walk, crawl, fly or drive into our country without legal authorization are breaking the law. They are also flouting the moral standards of the community in which they grew up. I don't believe, I can't be made to believe, that any community teaches its children to obey the law only when it brings some reward you like.

 As a Christian who yearns for prospertiy and safety for all people, I understand why people want to break the law and creep in, but I cannot agree that it is morally right. It is unethical for people to invade another country even if they only do it in order to get what they want for their families. I don't know of any country where I could engage in such behavior and be welcomed. Specifically, Mexico would not welcome me to come in and work wherever I like without any papers.

 I believe that Christians have the obligation to work for an immigration policy that is right for our country and to show both wisdom and compassion in our negotiations for the policy specific to each country. I do not believe that Christians should promote and encourage illegal immigration, and I do not believe that Christians should take illegal action to subvert the law of the land. There is a right way and a wrong way to speak out against laws we don't like. Ignoring them is not the right way.

Stuart Smith

Stuart Smith

Posted at 11:08 pm (U.S. Eastern) 2/10/2009

It is immoral that my dear sister-in-law has to wait for several more years for a visa while others push to the head of the line, flagrantly break our laws, and then act as though it is they who are the victims.

My relatives are no less important than the others who are desired by the chamber of commerce for cheap labor on the one hand, and on the other hand desired by the democrats so they can have another ethnic voting block that they can keep poor and dependent as a means to holding political power.




Posted at 12:41 am (U.S. Eastern) 2/15/2009

Lawrence Foster2/16/2009


I believe that we eventually need to overhaul the immigration system and the system for allowing aliens to work in the US.  But right now, we have the laws we have, and as Jesus told us, we need to "render unto Ceasar" - in other words, obey the law.  We can obey the law, while trying to change it.


As for the way that police officers operate, becasue we are not a police state, we have very little information on the people who will be arrested.  We do not know if they are simple economic refugees ignoring our laws to get a better opportunity; or if they are members of a violent drug gang using their employment as cover to be in the US.

When we go to amend our laws, let's not be in the rush we were in with the economic stimulus package.  Let's take time to do it right, so we do not have to regret the changes we make for many years.




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Embracing diversity