If I had to hazard a guess, I’d say that some type of immigration reform is coming soon, particularly regarding Latinos. I may be wrong; the political extremists have torpedoed many a thing that seemed like a done deal. But with so many reports signaling the Hispanic vote as what doomed the GOP this past election, the political will to get something done seems to be there.
Again, let me encourage churches to get ahead of the curve. Those churches that reached out to immigrants during Reagan’s amnesty program are the ones that today are making important inroads into the Latino community. Lay aside your political feelings and think about the ministry possibilities. This could well be the critical time.
Here are some suggestions:
- Offer ESL classes. Contrary to what some seem to think, most immigrants are very interested in learning English. There are programs available to help Christians reach out in this way. A couple that come to mind are FriendSpeak and World English Institute.
- Offer immigration counseling. This can be tricky, as undocumented immigrants can be hesitant about identifying themselves as such. Still, many churches have had success with such programs.
- Teach your members the ins and outs of dealing with immigrants. You can find some good resources at g92.org. There is also a seven-session discussion course built around the book Welcoming The Stranger. I also know that World Relief offers training for churches.
- Consider sponsoring someone in your church to be certified by the Board of Immigration Appeals. Board recognition allows non-profit organizations to offer immigrant legal services without being immigration attorneys. Again, World Relief offers 40-hour, week long intensive introduction to immigration law; I’m sure other groups offer similar programs.
As I said, this could be a crucial time in the history of the church in the United States. The Hispanic population is only going to grow. The church can either grow or diminish accordingly.