Response to the Current Migrant Challenge

As more than 500 migrants arrive unexpectedly to the Chicago region, and hundreds of others find themselves delivered by bus and plane to cities who have declared hospitality to the stranger, there is a question being asked and a challenge being delivered. Do we mean what we say about our hospitality, and will we accept the weight of acting with justice and compassion for vulnerable peoples, even those being used as political pawns?

Some of the southern states of our great nation have declared a limit and their objection to their own capacity to welcome and care for the flow of people seeking help and a better life from nations where suffering is commonplace.  Whatever political jabs were intended by these human deliveries, we, as the Presbytery of Chicago, the centralizing body of our region’s Presbyterian Church USA entities, stand to answer the question and partner in accepting the challenge. God’s love and compassion is for all peoples, and God’s merciful justice toward the vulnerable and exposed is our business.

Moving beyond the intent of the actions that brought hurting people to our communities, we believe that God is at work for Good and that we are all called to partner in good to dismantle harm to peoples.

From our vantage there are two priority concerns that draw our energy and resource:

1. Compassionate and practical resolution of the plight of migrants in our neighborhoods 

“We believe in a God who migrated to the human condition in the person Jesus, and we adhere to the Judeo-Christian tradition of providing hospitality and doing justice.”  Therefore, we commit to and call upon our neighbors to materially serve the needs of the migrant guests who have come to our community. We will work with the legislative authorities to gather necessary material resources and to assist with giving aid that helps all peoples rise to safety, dignity and wholeness.

2. Advocacy for comprehensive immigration reform

We believe the current issues of migrant crisis are directly related to the longstanding inability of both local and federal constituencies to have meaningful and constructive dialogue. We advocate and plead for a more just and effective collaborative response to the level of human migration that is necessitated in our time as a human response to poverty, violence, and environmental disaster.  People are leaving their homes, desperate for hope and a place to live in peace. We advocate for better, inclusive dialogue, design and decision that replaces partisan roadblocks and lofts to sustainable, humane solutions.

Let us, together, answer the question and the challenge:  Yes, we are a region where people in need can find welcome and a place to rise. Yes, we accept the challenge and will turn what may have been meant for evil, into Good.

Rev. Suzan Hawkins, Moderator Creation and Justice Committee