Prison and Jail
Liturgies for Immigration and Detention
It is estimated that about 11 million immigrants in the US are undocumented or have irregular status. In recent history, immigration has become a hot topic issue, and unfortunately, immigrant communities have suffered the consequences of racist policies, scapegoating, and xenophobia. Current and past presidential administrations have enabled policies to persecute, detain, and deport hundreds of thousands of immigrants every year. To say immigrant communities are under attack is an understatement.
For years, detention and deportation policies have stripped immigrants of their rights and dignity. Before the pandemic, Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) was detaining an average of 50,000 immigrants in immigration detention centers. These facilities, operated largely by for-profit corporations, hold immigrants while ICE makes a determination if these individuals will be allowed to be reunited with their loved ones or deported to their country of origin. Sadly, a huge percentage of people who are longtime residents in the U.S., who have families and roots in the U.S., who work in our cities and farms, and who feed us, end up deported to a country where some don’t have a recollection or strong tides to. Many immigrants are fleeing persecution in their homelands and come to the U.S. to seek protection because they believe in our just and fair system. Unfortunately, many end up detained for months and even years under inhumane conditions and treatment, only to be deported to the hell they are escaping from. Many women, unaccompanied children, and members of the LGBTQ+ community are incarcerated today.
The system feeds on fear and hate, creating millions of victims, affecting people with stories and dreams, people with names and gifts to share. We love to say we value families, yet, we do whatever it takes to separate them, putting profit before people. Having this context in mind, we want to offer an opportunity to explore immigration through this liturgy and, hopefully, inspire the church to protect immigrants in our midst.
The following Liturgies for Immigration and Detention were created to offer people of faith an opportunity to worship together and reflect on the experience of immigrants in the Bible and the experience of immigrants living in the United States. Through these resources, we want to allow God to speak to us using the stories of those directly impacted by our inhumane immigration policies and to inspire the Church to embrace the commandment to be welcoming people.
A Sermon for Prison, Jail, Immigration, and Detention
Prison and Jail Ministries Peer Learning and Wellness Group
Rev. Héctor J. Hernández Marcial, NBA Director of Community Engagement and Peer Group Convener
Rev. Tiffany Curtis, Peer Group Convener
Sergio Centeno Rodríguez
Gabriel Lopez Patino
Rev. Cie-Cie Price