Following s short but rather heated discussion, delegates to the Annual Meeting of the New Hampshire Conference of the United Church of Christ voted 197 to 119 for a resolution of solidarity with immigrants and support for the UCC’s South West Conference, which has taken a stand in opposition to Arizona’s harsh anti-immigrant law, SB 1070.
According to the UCC resolution, the Arizona law “codifies racial profiling and creates an atmosphere of suspicion, hatred, and scapegoating of immigrants and U.S citizens.”
The Arizona measure, approved in April, requires law enforcement officials to investigate someone’s immigration status if there is “reasonable suspicion” that the person might be undocumented. Those without identification papers, even if they are legal, are subject to arrest. A person can also be arrested if he or she is stopped and is simply with people who are undocumented — even if they are that person's family. Parents or children of “mixed-status families” could be arrested if they are found together. A person can be arrested if he or she is “transporting or harboring” undocumented people.
“Some might consider driving immigrant families to and from church or a doctor's appointment to be Christian ministry, but it will now be illegal in Arizona,” the resolution observes.
The SW Conference’s call for non-compliance with the law and support for an economic boycott of Arizona proved controversial with some NH Conference delegates. Other opponents suggested the resolution was too political. But in the end, the majority agreed it was fully appropriate for the New Hampshire of the UCC to act in a tradition that has for many years sought to follow biblical teachings that “The migrant who resides with you shall be to you as the citizen among you; you shall love the migrant as yourself, for you were migrants in the land of Egypt.”
The resolution, which was introduced by the Commission on Witness and Action, calls on UCC members to consider prayer, study, protest, and other possible actions for immigrant rights. With New Hampshire legislators planning to introduce Arizona-type laws in 2011, the New Hampshire Conference’s actions are timely.
Arnie Alpert of the AFSC, Eva Castillo of the NH Alliance for Immigrants and Refugees, and the Rev. Sandra Pontoh of the Maranatha Indonesian United Church of Christ served as resource people for a discussion prior to the vote. They plan to continue working with the NH Conference on follow-up activities.