They’ve come together at the White House to risk arrest for a cause that unites them: pastors, rabbis and bishops speaking out on immigration. As the nation grapples with a flood of undocumented migrants–including many unaccompanied children–the faith community is mobilizing to help these individuals and pressure Congress and the president for more humane policies. We explore the role faith groups are playing in the national immigration debate.


  • Kevin Appleby Director of Migration and Refugee Policy, United States Conference of Catholic Bishops
  • Jen Smyres Associate Director for Immigration and Refugee Policy at Church World Service, which represents 37 Protestant denominations
  • Lisa Rodriguez Watson Assistant to the CEO at the Christian Community Development Association; She also pastors with her husband at The District Church in D.C.


  • 12:06:39

    MR. KOJO NNAMDIFrom WAMU 88.5 at American University in Washington, welcome to "The Kojo Nnamdi Show," connecting your neighborhood with the world. Later in the broadcast, has Daniel Snyder co-opted Washington news media, or is sports journalism, well, different for hometown fans? But first, they all came together to the front gate at the White House. Pastors, rabbis, bishops to risk arrest for a cause that unites them, immigration policy. Last month, more than 100 faith leaders joined forces to protest proposed deportations of undocumented immigrants.

  • 12:07:19

    MR. KOJO NNAMDIMany of them children traveling across the border without their parents. As the nation grapples with the flood of immigrants from Central America, the issue has created an unusual consensus among faith groups that sometimes disagree. Religious leaders say their teachings are clear on this one. The Bible tells them to welcome the stranger. That means treating people humanely, not shouting at them to go home. With Congress in recess and the flow of children across the border slowing down, we look at the role religious leaders and the faith community are playing in the immigration debate.

  • 12:07:52

    MR. KOJO NNAMDIA conversation you can join by calling 800-433-8850 or sending email to How does your faith affect your views on immigration? You can also send us a tweet @kojoshow or go to our website, Ask a question or make a comment there. Joining us in studio is Jen Smyres, Associate Director For Immigration and Refugee Policy at Church World Service, which represents 37 Protestant denominations. Jen Smyres, thank you for joining us.

  • 12:08:20

    MS. JEN SMYRESThanks for inviting me.

  • 12:08:21

    NNAMDIAlso in studio with us is Lisa Rodriguez Watson, Assistant to the CEO at the Christian Community Development Association. She also pastors with her husband at The District Church here in Washington, D.C. Lisa Watson, thank you for joining us.

  • 12:08:34

    MS. LISA RODRIGUEZ WATSONThanks. It's a pleasure to be here.

  • 12:08:35

    NNAMDIAnd joining us by phone from Utah is Kevin Appleby, Director of Migration Policy with the United Conference of Catholic Bishops. Kevin Appleby, thank you for joining us.

  • 12:08:45

    MR. KEVIN APPLEBYThank you for having me and sorry I can't be in studio today.

  • 12:08:47

    NNAMDIWell, that's all right. At least we hear your voice. And I'll start with you, Kevin. In a world where it's sometimes hard to reach agreement among religious groups, what makes immigration an issue that unites so many faith leaders and people of faith?

  • 12:09:00

    APPLEBYWell, Kojo, one thing that a lot of people forget is that immigration is a human issue, ultimately. It's not just about the rule of law, but it's about how human beings are treated and their welfare. And I think once you have a humanitarian issue like that, you have moral implications, and therefore the faith groups come in and try to defend those who need defending and who are the most vulnerable. In this case, it's immigrants. In this case, it's vulnerable children at our border.

  • 12:09:27

    NNAMDILisa Watson.

  • 12:09:29

    WATSONI absolutely agree. You know, we -- the Bible teaches that every person bears the image of God, and so when we see people in need, who are in our country, whether they're here lawfully or not, we are to treat them with God given respect.

  • 12:09:44

    NNAMDIAnd you, Jen Smyres.

  • 12:09:45

    SMYRESWell, in addition to the clear scriptural mandate, really congregations see the impact of our broken immigration policies in the life of the church. So, one example of this is a young woman. Her name's Jasmine. And her congregation in Grand Rapids, Michigan -- when she was 16-years-old, Jasmine's mom was deported and the congregation really came around her to provide the emotional and spiritual care -- older couple in the church took her in their home so she could complete high school.

  • 12:10:13

    SMYRESBut whatever the congregation did, they couldn't change the fact that Jasmine's mom had been deported. And so they started to ask questions. Why are we deporting people like Jasmine's mom? Why can undocumented immigrants not apply for legal status? Why are our immigration laws broken and keeping families apart? And how could they prevent that kind of separation from happening to other families. And that's where we see faith communities really start being advocates for immigration reform.

  • 12:10:41

    NNAMDI800-433-8850. How does your faith affect your views on immigration? Has your place of worship organized efforts to help immigrants or to lobby for immigration laws or not? Give us a call. 800-433-8850. Lisa Rodriguez Watson, you spent three years in Memphis, Tennessee advising Evangelical churches on immigration before coming here to Washington a year ago. Talk about the views on immigration there and how the Evangelical perspective on undocumented immigrants has changed in recent years.

  • 12:11:11

    WATSONSure. So, at the beginning of the time when I was reaching out to churches to help them think, what does the Bible say about how we're to treat immigrants? I had just a few, just a handful of pastors and faith based leaders interested in engaging in the topic. 12, maybe, at the table, at that point. By the time I left Memphis, three years later, the last event that I held, I saw just a dramatic change in the interest. People were becoming more informed. So, we had 100 faith based leaders at the last event that I held.

  • 12:11:55

    WATSONMeaning that Evangelicals, there is a shift in the way that Evangelicals are thinking about this issue. There is a shift in the response that we're seeing. Maybe not everybody knows yet how to respond, but they're at least interested in wanting to know, how do I find out what the Bible says? Because we haven't...

  • 12:12:13

    NNAMDIIs that particularly effective in the Bible belt?

  • 12:12:15

    WATSONAbsolutely. So, you know, the thing that I say is people in the Bible belt, they believe the Bible. And they want to be obedient to the Bible. And so when you show them, in the scriptures, you know, there are 92 references in the Old Testament, Hebrew scriptures, alone, that refer to immigrant and how God cares for the immigrant, how we ought to also. When you expose them to that, then they really do have to grapple with, wow, my faith informs me on this issue when maybe they just haven't used that lens to see the scripture in the past.

  • 12:12:51

    NNAMDI800-433-8850. Go to the phones. Here is Daniel in Arlington, Va. Daniel, you're on the air. Go ahead, please.

  • 12:13:00

    DANIELGood afternoon, Kojo. Guests, how are you all today?

  • 12:13:02

    NNAMDIWe're doing well.

  • 12:13:02

    WATSONGood. Thanks.

  • 12:13:04

    DANIELExcellent. So, I really appreciate the show and the topic of it and everything. I did have one kind of comment. You always hear, since the influx of immigrant children, you've heard this referred to as being part and parcel to the larger immigration crisis. I kind of take issue with that in that this is really more of a refugee crisis. These are kids being sent for and/or fleeing from extremely violent parts of the world where you can nearly describe Honduras as being a failed state at this point, with the level of violence that's occurring there.

  • 12:13:37

    DANIELAnd its complete inability to be curbed by its government. And I kind of feel like that requires a different response than say, an immigration crisis, which sounds like something -- or an immigration problem, which sounds like something that needs policy review and a new law written for (unintelligible) and a processing.

  • 12:13:52

    NNAMDIOkay. Thank you very much for your call. I'd be interested in hearing your comment on that, Kevin Appleby. Because there are people who say, this is not an immigration crisis. That is the children coming from Central America. It's a humanitarian crisis, that the immigration crisis we're talking about has to do with the broader immigration system in the United States. What do you say, Kevin?

  • 12:14:12

    APPLEBYWell, the Catholic Church has been out of the box saying that this is a refugee situation, where children are fleeing gangs and organized criminal networks. Mothers are having desperate choices to protect their children and sending them to -- for protection in the United States. And once you establish that this is a refugee problem, then you look at it much differently. The solutions are much different. They're afforded protection. They're given the right to an immigration hearing, a right to receive protection in the United States.

  • 12:14:42

    APPLEBYAnd we framed it that way, and we think that's been an effective method, because people understand that if it's different than coming in order to find a job, or to support a family. You're coming because your life is in danger. And I think -- and these are children that we're talking about. Very vulnerable children. So, we need to respond as a nation under our own law, but also under our international obligations.

  • 12:15:05

    NNAMDIYou make a distinction, Jen Smyres, between what we're talking about, that these Central American children, and our overall lack of immigration reform.

  • 12:15:14

    SMYRESI think there are some parts where you see the two intersect. Like Kevin said, we have laws on the books to help children in these situations. And one of those laws is the Trafficking Victims Protection Act, which Congress reauthorized in 2008. But right now, Congress in some of the frenzy and knee jerk reactions around this issue, are actually trying to roll back important protections in the Trafficking Victims Protection Act.

  • 12:15:40

    SMYRESAnd we're even seeing the Obama Administration institute rocket dockets to put these children, as quickly as possible, without any notice, without a lawyer. In fact, there are children as young as 18 months who are being put up in front of a judge without a lawyer.

  • 12:15:56

    SMYRESAnd I do think that you're seeing the Obama Administration respond to this issue similarly to how they responded to immigration reform, thinking that they could deport their way through it, to get Congress to act in a different way. And that is a failed strategy. And so, right now, we need the Obama Administration to do two hard things at once that are different, but that really important. And one is they need to ensure that children have a fair and full process, so that they can have their stories heard by an immigration judge and seek protection so that we don't deport them back to dangerous situations.

  • 12:16:29

    SMYRESAnd the second thing that the Obama Administration needs to do is expand deferred action. So that, you know, until Congress can get its act together, people who are undocumented and are members of our communities, can apply to travel and to work legally.

  • 12:16:42

    NNAMDISame -- go ahead, Kevin Appleby.

  • 12:16:45

    APPLEBYI think if Congress had enacted immigration reform, they could have made changes which would have helped this situation. In other words, they could have provided legal avenues for children to join family members here without having to go through Mexico on a dangerous journey. They could have established a program in country to do processing.

  • 12:17:06

    APPLEBYSo, a lot of this falls at the feet of our own Congress for not acting on immigration reform broadly. The causes that are pushing these children are not necessarily related, but the solutions are related to the immigration reform. And I think we need to keep that in mind. And immigration reform is an important element here that we need to address, sooner rather than later.

  • 12:17:28

    NNAMDICare to comment on this, Lisa?

  • 12:17:30

    WATSONWell, I'm not a policy expert, but being a pastor, I think that one of the things that we can do is, you know, as we have partnering churches in Central America is to address the root issues on that side. We absolutely need to find solutions on this side of the border, but it helps us all when we address the root causes. And so, support churches and ministries in Central America to promote peace and respect for human rights. If your church or faith community has any connections down in those areas, giving support to them would be an important step to take.

  • 12:18:02

    NNAMDIGlad you brought that up, because apparently a lot of our callers want to invoke the faith tradition here. But before we do that, Jen, can you once again explain how faith traditions give guidance on how to treat undocumented immigrants?

  • 12:18:16

    SMYRESSure. So, we see the scriptural call to welcome the stranger, to love our neighbor, but we also see people respond out of the deep rooted faith that they have. In Yuma, Arizona, for instance, we're seeing Department of Homeland Security officials just drop off children and families in empty Walmart parking lots. And in Yuma, in particular, we've had the Presbyterian Church, United Church of Christ, United Methodist Church of Yuma, come together to provide housing, to provide diapers, clothing, food, water to these families. And I think that there is a really deep rooted nature that all of us have to respond.

  • 12:18:53

    SMYRESYou know, there was a recent poll that 70 percent of Americans want to see children who are fleeing dangerous situations protected here in the United States, and that makes sense, right? Because any of us, if a child showed up on our doorstep, we would not turn them away. We would help that child find safety. And I think that's where you see, you know, people of all faiths living out that Biblical call. In Matthew 18, Jesus says anyone who welcomes a child in my name welcomes me. And I'm seeing that play out across the country in response to this crisis.

  • 12:19:21

    NNAMDINow, here is Ed in Summit Point, West Virginia. Ed, you're on the air. Go ahead, please.

  • 12:19:27

    EDHi Kojo. How are you doing?

  • 12:19:29

    NNAMDII'm well.

  • 12:19:30

    EDMy, mine is a concern in the Bible, and you can pull pieces out of it. And when it gets down to it, it is the children that we are worried about. But the Bible also says when elected officials, or people who are put in power over a nation, the people of that nation are supposed to follow those laws of the person or people that were put in charge. That's the reason for -- or that's why we elect people. And when the immigrants are coming across, whether they're children or they're teenagers or they're adults, they're supposed to abide by those laws. And if we're gonna take them in, they still need to stand in line.

  • 12:20:03

    EDThey still need to put -- be put in places where we can vet them to make sure that, you know, the countries they're coming from aren't just sending their children over because they know we're going to take them. I mean, there's a burden on our nation as well if we keep bring people in when we're in an economic position and we can't help them.

  • 12:20:20

    EDWhy aren't we going to those countries and stopping the threats to these children and helping them out? I mean, if that's the case, it'll never end. We need to do that first before we start flooding our own homeland.

  • 12:20:34

    NNAMDIKevin Appleby, would you care to respond?

  • 12:20:36

    APPLEBYYes, good question, caller. First of all, the way we're responding to these children is in accord with what the law is on the books. Children from non-(word?) countries are treated differently under the TVPRA, as Jen said. So what we're doing conforms with the law. Having said that, you're right, the rule of law is important. The Catholic Church acknowledges the right of the sovereign to control its borders.

  • 12:21:00

    APPLEBYBut what we have now is chaos, really, under the current system. And what we're saying is that if we reform immigration laws, we're going to restore the rule of law, that right now there is no rule of law. And, in fact, our country is taking advantage of this aspect of our system because we're using many of these immigrants in important industries, using their labor but at the same time we're deporting their families.

  • 12:21:24

    APPLEBYAnd what we're saying, as a moral matter, is we can't have it both ways. So what the church is saying is, we can have system that respects the rule of law but also respects human rights and human dignity and that's what we're striving for here.

  • 12:21:37

    NNAMDIThank you for your call, Ed. We do have to take a short break. When we come back, we'll take more of your calls at 800-433-8850. We're talking about faith groups uniting on the broader issue of immigration and on the immediate issue of children coming from Central America. You can also send email to Does your clergy person talk from the pulpit about immigration? And if so, what's the message? 800-433-8850. I'm Kojo Nnamdi.

  • 12:23:55

    NNAMDIWelcome back. We're talking about faith groups uniting on immigration. We're talking with Lisa Rodriguez Watson, assistant to the CEO at the Christian Community Development Association. She also pastors with her husband at the District Church here in Washington. Kevin Appleby is the director of migration policy with the United Conference of Catholic Bishops. And Jen Smyres is associate director for immigration and refugee policy at Church World Service, which represents 37 protestant denominations.

  • 12:24:22

    NNAMDIWe're inviting your calls at 800-433-8850. Can you tell me, each of you, how your organization has been involved in advocating for undocumented immigrants and immigration reform starting with you, Lisa Watson?

  • 12:24:34

    WATSONSure. So my organization CCDA, Christian Community Development Association, has been involved since its inception with the Evangelical Immigration Table. We are one of the principals on the table and have sought to educate evangelical churches and Christians across the country on what the bible says about immigration reform and help them move towards advocacy that's in line with biblical principles.

  • 12:25:00

    NNAMDIAnd you, Jen Smyres?

  • 12:25:01

    SMYRESSo Church World Service works with 37 different refugee resettlement affiliates across the country and also provides legal services to immigrants. And in our advocacy work, we've been meeting with members of Congress and their staff, urging them to prioritize family unity to create a process for undocumented individuals to be able to legalize their status and seek citizenship. But we've also really been engaged with people of faith in congregations across the country who have been engaging in local congressional visits.

  • 12:25:30

    SMYRESWe call them neighbor to neighbor meetings and have a resource for that. They've been hosting prayer vigils, education sessions, film screenings. And many of them, as you mentioned in the opening of the show, Kojo, have even been driven to civil disobedience to say enough is enough. We cannot have one more family separated. We cannot see one more of our community members deported.

  • 12:25:51

    NNAMDIAnd, you, Kevin Appleby?

  • 12:25:53

    APPLEBYWell, the Catholic Church has been defending migrants and refugees for decades now. It's part of who we are. To borrow a phrase from the toy story, immigrants are us. And we're advocating now for immigration reform. We have a large network called Justice for Immigrants, where we're organizing Catholics around the country to ask, on behalf of immigration reform, but as well as talking the talk, we also walk the walk.

  • 12:26:16

    APPLEBYWe're the largest private resettler of refugees in the world. Actually, we settle as many as 20 to 25,000 refugees a year in the United States, but we also provide legal assistance to immigrants to our Catholic Legal Immigration Network and we help unaccompanied children who come to the system and getting them placed with foster care families or in helping them with their own families. So we have quite an extensive network of service programs as well that help immigrants and refugees.

  • 12:26:47

    NNAMDIOn to Chris in McLean, VA. Chris, you're on the air, go ahead please.

  • 12:26:52

    CHRISYes, good afternoon, Kojo. I'm a longtime listener. I'm disappointed in the lack of diversity of viewpoints with the current guests. And I'd also like to refer the guests to Romans 13 through 7 -- excuse me, Romans 13:1-7, which discusses the need to obey the laws of government. Obviously, immigration laws, in this case. There's obviously...

  • 12:27:11

    NNAMDIBut let me raise a question with you, Chris. What if the civil rights leaders had obeyed the laws of government that said that they could not drink from certain water fountains or could not eat at certain lunch counters?

  • 12:27:21

    CHRISI think you're -- with all due respect, I think you're making your viewpoints on this issue very clear. But the issue there is that the citizens of the United States, the citizens that were already here, one of them was being discriminated against. And that's something very different. The issue here is that somebody is coming in from outside of the country and there's something to take something away from somebody that's already in the country.

  • 12:27:44

    CHRISAnd I think that's the -- that's the discussion. And I have no problem with somebody going outside of the country and supporting people and trying to change things overseas. But people are coming in and the groups here are attempting to bring people in and then have everybody else pay for it. And that's the unfairness, I think. But I'll take your response off the air. Thank you again, Kojo.

  • 12:28:03

    NNAMDIAnd what would your response be to that, Lisa Watson?

  • 12:28:08

    WATSONWell, I'm disappointed with that perspective, because we have biblical examples of people who actually said to obey the law of the Lord is better than, you know, than obeying human law in some instances. It's not often. We don't see it repeated often throughout the scriptures but we do see it. So, Daniel and -- he refuse to eat the food that the king had ordered, you know, the people to eat, as one basic example.

  • 12:28:41

    WATSONAnd with regards to the cost of the folks who are coming across the border, you know, I think it's easy to say this is, you know, look at the bottom line, it's such an expense to us. But I think there is a failure then to recognize what are the benefits that immigrants have for so many generations brought to our country? If we did not have the opportunity for immigrants to come to our land, we would be far the poorer for it. And so, I would encourage our caller to think not just about the cost, but what are the benefits?

  • 12:29:15

    NNAMDIWhat about the immigrants coming to our land in terms of their effect on faith? Do faith leaders have a practical interest in supporting immigration at a time when participation and organized religion in this country is waning? To what extent are immigrants important to the future of American congregations, Jen Smyres?

  • 12:29:34

    SMYRESWell, I've really seen immigrant communities breathe new life into congregations with different cultural practices of worship, with different relationships. I have seen, you know, gleeful 7-year-old girls come out of Sunday school because they have a new friend who's from Haiti or they have a Sunday school teacher who's teaching them about when she used to live in Kenya.

  • 12:29:54

    SMYRESAnd I think that there's a real vibrancy to our communities that immigrants brings that we value. And we value not only because they are human beings and we value each other, but also because of that diversity and that energy. And I think that, you know, we're better for it. We're better off economically. We're better off culturally because of those individuals who breathe new life into our communities.

  • 12:30:19

    NNAMDIAnd for those people who are suggesting that this panel does not show a full range of opinion, indeed one caller said that we have liberal panelists, I don't know how many people think of the Catholic Church as being liberal, but the Catholic Church is one of the panel's represented here. The premise of this conversation, however, is where faith communities are finding common ground. And so, that's we invited leaders of faith communities.

  • 12:30:43

    NNAMDIBut, of course, there is the question whether the people of those faith communities are working with such as our callers maybe on the other side of this issue. Kevin Appleby, do you hear from Catholics who say, we are opposed to what you're doing?

  • 12:30:56

    APPLEBYSure, we do. And we welcome those comments. And those who disagree with us have -- they have legitimate concerns that we attempt to address. We don't dismiss them. Polls have shown that Catholics, by and large, support immigration reform, about 50 to 60 percent, depending on how the question is asked. So we believe that we've got support in the pews. But there are a lot of Catholics who are concerned about the rule of law, how do we address the rule of law and what the caller just expressed in terms of immigrants taking jobs.

  • 12:31:26

    APPLEBYAnd, of course, we try to make the secular arguments. But we also appeal to the gospel and to our teachings to welcome the stranger, to turn to other cheek, to help those who are most vulnerable. And we think it's a teaching moment. So, we invite diverse views. We respond to those diverse views and we try to take those views into consideration in our advocacy certainly. And we think that the proposal -- that the solution that we're proposing does help restore the rule of law and respect the rule of law. Because right now, it's chaos in the country and the system's broken. It needs to be repaired.

  • 12:32:00

    NNAMDIOn to the telephones again. Here now is Jeremy in Annapolis, MD. Jeremy, you're on the air, go ahead please.

  • 12:32:08

    JEREMYGood afternoon, beautiful day. Thanks for having my call.

  • 12:32:10

    NNAMDIYou're welcome.

  • 12:32:12

    JEREMYI was just calling, hearing about everybody talking about you have to do what the bible is telling you. But it's a book that was put on us by humans, although the books was sent down from, you know, however. There's a lot of things that were probably put in there just to keep us down. So I was wondering about that -- how that would be put into.

  • 12:32:35

    NNAMDIWell, even though we have faith leaders here who are all believers in the bible, there are other faith leaders who believe in the Quran, or the Jewish faith leaders and others who are all a part of this movement, they're just not reflected on this broadcast because we can only fill so many positions...

  • 12:32:50


  • 12:32:52

    NNAMDI...on the broadcast. But in terms of your question about picking and choosing, if you will, what we follow from the bible. Is that what you're saying?

  • 12:33:00

    JEREMYSort of. I mean, obviously the bible was put together from many books that were -- only a few people had a hand in making themselves.

  • 12:33:09

    NNAMDIWell, let me put the question this way. To what extent a clergy talking about immigration from the pulpit? Can you respond to that, Kevin Appleby?

  • 12:33:19

    JEREMYThank you.

  • 12:33:20

    APPLEBYYes. We do talk about the issue from the pulpit, but we do it from a gospel ends. Often -- we don't get into the arcane details of policy necessarily, but we talk about Jesus' example, for example, in his life. He was an itinerant preacher himself who, in Matthew, had no place to lay his head. So he himself was a migrant. We try to teach what -- we try to show the example of what Jesus taught us as well.

  • 12:33:47

    APPLEBYBut we also have other ways to get the message out. You don't necessarily have to talk from the pulpit to get the message out. You can have education programs in parishes or other programs that the church has, we can disseminate information. We have tons of information on our website, that will help people consider this issue and try to come to the right conclusion. So we try to get the message out, but we use different -- different ways to do that, not just from the pulpit. But we use out networks as well.

  • 12:34:16

    NNAMDIIs immigration seen as a topic that's too political, say, for sermon, Jen Smyres?

  • 12:34:21

    SMYRESI don't think so. I think some people would say, oh, immigration is a political issue, but it's a human issue. Like, Kevin said it at the front of the show. And when you look at almost every issue in our lives has been politicized, and so it's the responsibility of faith leaders in this country to say immigrants are human beings and they're members of our communities and our political leaders have a responsibility.

  • 12:34:47

    SMYRESIt's also one of the roles of faith communities to be involved in the public square. And we cannot sit silently by while families are separated, while individuals are deported, while we have a flood system where it takes up to 24 years to be reunited with a family member. We can't sit on our hands and say, oh, this is too touchy. We have to get in there. And that's what Christ did, you know, talking about the leper, the Samaritan when it was very controversial to do that. And that's what we're called to do as well.

  • 12:35:15

    NNAMDILisa Rodriguez Watson, you are a pastor along with your husband at District Church. Is this something that you talk about from the pulpit? And what is generally the response to it?

  • 12:35:23

    WATSONSure. We -- we think it's important to ask our folks to become involved. You know, don't just talk about loving your neighbor but actually love your neighbor. And so one of the ways that we've encouraged our parishioners to do that is by volunteering at the place where we rent our space. And it's next to a public charter school. And there are lots of immigrants that go to school there and we tutor them and we just become involved and loving those who are our neighbors.

  • 12:35:56

    NNAMDIWhat's your sense of the national mood on undocumented migrants coming into the country, Kevin Appleby? We see secure the border protests in the news and fights against new processing facilities in local communities. But aren't some of those protesters people of faith also?

  • 12:36:15

    APPLEBYWell, I'm sure some of them are. And this is an issue where people of goodwill are going to disagree certainly. What we want to find here is a common solution. I think what Americans want and certainly what Catholics want is system that works for everyone that is controlled. We know who's coming into the country. We know who's here. and if we reform the system, that's what we'll find out.

  • 12:36:38

    APPLEBYWe'll be able to bring people out of the shadows. We'll be able to know who's coming and for what purpose. Right now, Kojo, there are only 5,000 green cards for low skilled workers to come into this country. And we have -- at the height of our economy back in 2008, we had a need for 300 to 500,000 of them in industries like agriculture or service or construction at that point. So you see here, there's a broken system.

  • 12:37:02

    APPLEBYIf we provide legal paths for them to come and if we allow the people who are in the shadows to come out and work, we're not only going to have a better economy, we're gonna have more contributions. But we're also going to know who these people are. So there is a security aspect to reforming the system.

  • 12:37:17

    NNAMDIHere's Richard in Poolesville, MD. Richard, you're on the air, go ahead please.

  • 12:37:23

    RICHARDGood afternoon. I just have, like, a couple of comments. One, for me, this question is so complex that it's just really hard -- it's so easy for one person to make one point about -- from the bible, either for or against or whatever. It just comes down to helping development in other countries where then you just -- it's hard to boil down so quickly even for an hour. And also, the other thing is, it's just that people, America hearing the idea of having refugees in our country, I think, that's just scary to people.

  • 12:37:51

    RICHARDPeople think of refugees as being in other countries. Oh, that's, you know, people in 10 cities and things like that. But, I mean, yeah, we need to face the fact that things are changing. There are now movements of people here in North America, in our hemisphere or whatever, that that's going to happen. And the third thing is that, to me, I think it also just shows how people (unintelligible) lots of people's comments that in America and in a lot of the world now, because of westernization, the world religion is money.

  • 12:38:16

    RICHARDIt comes down to (unintelligible) oh, these people coming here that's going to affect me financially, so therefore I'm against it. And I, you know, and people say, oh, it's okay if you go there and help them, take your money elsewhere, you know, to help them there. But don't affect my pocketbook here.

  • 12:38:27

    NNAMDIJen Smyres, do you see the issue as being as complex as Richard seems to think that it is?

  • 12:38:32

    SMYRESIt certainly is complex. And I think that's why we're really praying and acting for cooler heads to prevail and for people to build relationships with people who are impacted by our immigration laws. But the caller is right. I mean, the world is watching what we do. And in our international diplomacy as a country, we're encouraging countries like Egypt, Jordan, Lebanon to keep their doors open to millions of Syrian refugees.

  • 12:38:57

    SMYRESAnd so, we cannot close our doors to 60,000 children -- sounds like a large number but it's not in comparison to what people are facing in other parts of the world. And so, you know, there are real solutions that we can advocate for. And some of those longer-term solutions include holding other countries accountable. Guatemala, El Salvador, Honduras, holding them accountable and making some of our money that we provide those countries contingent on securing women's shelters.

  • 12:39:26

    SMYRESRight now, there are only three women's shelters in Honduras and police routinely invade two of them and use them as their own personal brothels. We need to hold these countries accountable to providing witness protection programs and we can do that as a country.

  • 12:39:39

    NNAMDIAfraid that's all the time we have. Jen Smyres is associate director for immigration and refugee policy at Church World Service, which represent 37 Protestant denominations. Jen Smyres, thank you for joining us.

  • 12:39:49

    SMYRESThank you.

  • 12:39:49

    NNAMDILisa Rodriguez Watson is assistant to the CEO at the Christian Community Development Association, where she pastors with her husband at the District Church in D.C. Lisa Rodriguez Watson, thank you for joining us.

  • 12:40:00

    WATSONThank you. It's a pleasure.

  • 12:40:02

    NNAMDIAnd Kevin Appleby is director of migration policy with the United Conference of Catholic Bishops. Kevin, thank you for joining us.

  • 12:40:07

    APPLEBYThank you for having me, Kojo.

  • 12:40:08

    NNAMDIGonna take a short break. When we come back, has Daniel Snyder co-opted Washington news media or is sports journalism different for hometown fans? I'm Kojo Nnamdi.

Related Links

Topics + Tags


comments powered by Disqus
Most Recent Shows

Winter Reading 2018

Thursday, Dec 13 2018Seasons greetings, bookworms! It's our annual winter reading show and we're talking the very best books of the year. Take note (and share your suggestions!)