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Churches Seek to Assist Undocumented Immigrants

CHICAGO, IL (October 29, 2011) – Resurrection Covenant Church has declared itself an “Immigrant Welcoming Congregation.”

Last Sunday afternoon, the church hosted a celebration that involved 11 Chicago-area religious congregations that are committed to assisting undocumented immigrants.

“We’ve already been helping immigrants who have faced detention and deportation,” says Aaron Johnson, pastor of Resurrection.

That assistance has come in multiple forms, Johnson says. “We helped families get financial support to replace the income they’ve lost when a family member is detained.”

Congregation members also have provided childcare and helped immigrants work through the legal systems. “Sometimes it is something as simple as just paying a visit or bringing over a meal,” Johnson says.

Church representatives at Sunday’s gathering, who also included lay members, denounced federal policies that have led to the deportation of nearly one million immigrants the past two years, says Johnson. Participants called for suspending detentions and deportations until Congress passes comprehensive immigration reform.

“Congregations have been coming to us and asking what they can do to respond to the injustice and deal with the terrible human consequences of the Obama administration’s detentions and deportations,” explains Jenny Dale, coordinator of the Chicago New Sanctuary Coalition, a project of the Chicago Religious Leadership Network on Latin America. “So we’ve told them, ‘Let’s find out.’ ”

The result was bringing together “Immigrant Welcoming Congregations,” Dale says.

Religious organizations that participated in the celebration included Berwyn United Church of Christ (Iglesia Unida de Berwyn), First United Church of Oak Park, and Saint Nicholas Catholic Parish in Evanston.

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