As Christians we are called to welcome the immigrant and to love one another. Those teachings from Scripture are not only good for our soul but also good for the American economy. In order to ensure its future economic success America will need more immigrants. It will be best if America develops humane and comprehensive immigration reform that welcomes those needed immigrants.

Humane and comprehensive immigration reform will treat all human beings with the dignity and respect they deserve as children of God. Families will not be separated. Workers will not be exploited. Humane and comprehensive immigration reform will allow everyone the opportunity to develop to the full potential God intended for them. That will ensure future success for all of us.

As of 2021, America has about 330 million people. A February 11, 2021, report from Migration Policy Institute (MPI) estimated the number of immigrants living in the US as of 2019(1, 2):

45-48 million immigrants lived in the US in Fiscal Year (FY) 2019. 23.2 million (~52% of all) of those immigrants were naturalized US citizens in FY 2019.
13.6 million immigrants in FY 2019 were Lawful Permanent Residents (LPR’s or “green card holders”).
10-11 million undocumented immigrants were estimated to be living in the US in 2019
2.2 million non-immigrant workers, business people, students, exchange visitors/tourists, diplomats, and their relatives were residing in the United States in FY 2017.

Studies show that America will need more workers in the future in order for the American economy to continue to grow, and in order to continue to provide Social Security and Medicare benefits to our older residents. There is no evidence that authorized immigrants, or unauthorized immigrants, are taking jobs from American citizens. The percentage of documented and undocumented immigrant workers is higher in some occupations than in others, with about one-third of all immigrant workers not having lawful authorization to work in the US.        

Per a June 5, 2018, article from the National Immigration Forum article, “[Estimates] based on 2014 census data show that undocumented immigrants make up 12.7 percent of the construction workforce, 8.7 percent of the leisure and hospitality workforce, and 6.2 percent of all business service workers.”(3) The facts are both authorized immigrants, and unauthorized immigrants, are working in both highly skilled occupations and lower skilled occupations.

The lack of younger workers to replace retiring workers is due to the low number of births in America. The provisional total (including immigrants and native-born) fertility rate (TFR) for the United States in 2020 was 1,637.5 births per 1,000 women which is below replacement level of 2,100 births per 1,000 women. 2,100 births per 1,000 women is the level at which a given generation can exactly replace itself. Per the CDC, the US, “Rate has generally been below replacement since 1971.”(4) In particular White Americans, are getting older and are not reproducing in numbers that maintain their percentage of the population.

Due to a low birth rate, the number of US-born workers is not increasing fast enough to support a growing economy, support government programs and to provide the current level of Social Security and Medicare benefits. The US will need more workers to pay taxes that support Social Security and Medicare, to pay for infrastructure and to pay for all the other services provided by local, state and federal governments. Even though the share of immigrants in the US labor force has increased significantly, from 10% in 1995 to 17% in 2018, the US will still need an ever increasing number of immigrant workers to maintain economic growth, health care, education and living standards.

One example of the need for immigrants is the Social Security Administration (SSA) trust fund. The SSA trust fund is a pay as you go fund. Current workers and their employers pay FICA (Federal Insurance Contributions Act) taxes that support Social Security and Medicare trust funds. The trust funds then pay benefits that go to current retirees. With an increasing number of retiring baby boomers and decreasing number of workers, there will not be enough US-born workers to cover the increasing cost of the retirees.

Per a March 8, 2017, article from Pew Research, “Immigrants will play the primary role in the future growth of the working-age population (though they will remain a minority of it).(5) Without an influx of immigrant workers the number of working age adults (25-64) in the US would decline by 17.6 million by 2035. A decline of that size in the number of workers would result in less FICA payments to the Social Security and Medicare Trust Funds. With less funding, retiring workers would not be able to continue receiving 100 percent of their scheduled Social Security benefits unless there was an increase in FICA taxes and/or elimination of the Social Security tax cap.

One of the radical teachings of Jesus is to, “Love your neighbor as yourself.” If we follow that teaching it means there is no “Them.” There is just “Us.” All human beings are made in the image of God. Human beings are not labels (migrants, aliens, workers, criminals, etc), but people who bear God’s own image and likeness. As such they should be treated with dignity and respect.
Humane and comprehensive US immigration reform would ensure that immigrants are given protection of their human rights, protections of wage and safety laws, and equal opportunity. Humane immigration reform would allow for all immigrants to become full members of our society.

1. statistics-immigrants-and-immigration-united-states-2020
3. contributors-they-are-the-new-american-workforce/. June 5, 2018, article from the National Immigration Forum on occupations immigrants work in, percentage of immigrants in different occupations, and occupations where undocumented immigrants make up large percentage of workers.
5. contribute-greatly-to-us-economy-despite-administrations. August 15, 2019 article from the Center for Budget and Policy Priorities (CBPP) that discusses the contribution of immigrants to the economy.

Dr. Jim Mendez is a member of St James Cathedral in Fresno.

Immigration Month Bible Study

Diocesan Bible Study:  During the four Wednesdays of the observance (May 26, June 2, 9 and 16) SJRAISE will be hosting a 90-minute Bible Study (via Zoom, of course) using No Longer Strangers, produced by Forward Movement (included with this mailing). The Bible study will run from 6:30 to 8:00 PM. The Bible study will include a 25-minute presentation on issues related to the theme of that session. 

Our speakers will include:
   June 2: Reaching Out to those who are different - Bianca Dueñas, Immigration Staff AttorneyDirector of San Joaquin Immigrant Empowerment Project
   June 9: Migration - Bishop David
    June 16: Talking and Acting around Migration/Immigration Issue  - Lety Valencia, Co-Director of Organizing, Faith in the Valleyand the Reverend Julie Kelly           
Donations needed for International Rescue Committee

For those who have not heard, President Biden increased the historically low Trump-era refugee admissions cap for this fiscal year from 15,000 to 62,500. More information about this announcement, as well as the IRC’s response, can be found at the following link:
We are thrilled to hear of the administration’s decision and are grateful for the ways in which it will impact tens of thousands of survivors of conflict and persecution. While we have yet to learn how many refugees and special immigrants we will see here locally in the next few months, we are anticipating a substantial increase in the number of people we serve. This is fantastic news! It also means that now more than ever we will need support from friends like you to help lead individuals and families from harm to home.
How you can help
As we prepare to serve a larger number of refugees, asylees and other special immigrants in the Central Valley, there are many ways that you can provide support:
  • Donate Household Items: As new families and individuals arrive, they will need household furnishings such as furniture (particularly couches and dining sets that are in good condition), new bath and bedding items, and kitchen supplies. A list of our general donations needs is attached. Feel free to respond to this email or contact us by phone at 209-272-0751 if you wish to donate any of these items.
  • Provide Gift Cards: We have a huge need right now for gift cards from Target or Walmart. These donations are incredibly empowering because they give people the power to choose what clothing and household items they want to buy, a luxury that was not available to them while living in refugee camps. Gift cards from Target or Walmart can be sent to the following address:

International Rescue Committee
3446 N. Golden State Blvd., Ste. A
Turlock, CA 95382
Attn: Jonathan Partridge
  • Volunteer: As more people arrive, we will need volunteers to help with virtual English language classes, job placement, and donation transportation. We will also likely need help transporting individuals and families to appointments once it becomes safe to do so. In addition, we will be looking for small groups who are interested in furnishing homes. More information on volunteer and internship opportunities can be found at the following link:

  • For donations that will specifically benefit the IRC in Turlock/Modesto, please contact us directly at [email protected].

From the  PICO CA Faith & Spiritual Leaders Briefing on Immigration Reform

**This includes our own Bishop David**

Wrapped in Love

If you are a quilter and would like to contribute to the Wrapped in Love project, or if you would like to provide financial assistance for mailing and supplies, please contact Pastor Julie at: [email protected].

To view the video of the blessing of the blankets and hear from Pastor Julie and quilter, Jean Wright, click here
COVID-19 Resources for Immigrants
(in Spanish)

Guía para Inmigrantes de California + Listos California Esta guía proporciona consejos sobre los servicios, incluyendo los beneficios públicos, que están disponibles para los inmigrantes californianos, incluidos algunos que están disponibles independientemente de su estatus migratorio. Visite para obtener más información. 

Calls to Action, Training and Resources

Welcoming the Stranger: Immigration Detention.
Wednesday, June 9, 3pm ET,
Susan Krehbiel (Associate for Refugees and Asylum, Presbyterian Disaster Assistance) will moderate Welcoming the Stranger: Immigration Detention. This webinar will cover US reliance on immigration detention, as well as a new video series highlighting the harsh realities inside these detention centers. Learn from firsthand accounts of inhumane treatment, documented instances of abuse, and Presbyterians and interfaith coalitions who advocate to end immigration detention even as they seek to minister to individuals who are detained. Presenters: “Life inside a Detention Center” film clip, Rev. Tom Hagood, pastor of Columbia Presbyterian Church in Decatur, GA and Chair of the New Sanctuary Movement of Atlanta, Amilcar Valencia, Executive Director of El Refugio and member of Georgia Detention Watch based in Lumpkin, GA, Rene Anita Chombeng, Immigrant Organizing Coordinator and Rev. Heidi Worthen Gamble, Mission Catalyst, Presbytery of the Pacific in Los Angeles.

Climate Migration Abroad and At Home
Imagine waking up to water filling up your home. Imagine the panic setting in as your house slowly floats away beneath your feet. Imagine the sea swallowing your country. For people in Small Island Developing States like the Maldives and Marshall Island, this is their new reality. With rising sea levels and increasing floods, the daily decision to stay becomes more of a fight against nature. When these islands disappear, we don’t just lose land. We lose stories of our past, stories of who we are.

Stay up to date with online trainings and webinars related to immigration issues across the country by subscribing to the


from our partners at
Interfaith Immigration Coalition
includes important yet easy action items for individuals and congregations!

The Immigration Services Directory, which provides a list of nonprofit community organizations that offer a broad range of immigration-related services in the Central Valley can be found here

If you are seeking opportunities to connect to a community of welcomers and advocates, you are cordially invited to join one of EMM’s ministry networks. These are vibrant virtual spaces for conversation, collaboration, and taking action, together. We would love to have you join us:
  • EMM’s Immigrant Detention Ministry Network meets the first Monday of the month, 12:00-1:15pm(EST) Click here to register
  • EMM’s Asylum Ministry Network meets the third Monday of the month, 12:00-1:15pm (EST) Click here to register


Mark Your Calendar:
Borderlands Ministry Summit
October 21-23, 2021

Prayers of the People for use in Ordinary Time
SJRAISE Petitions for Prayers of the People:
Pentecost 2021

2nd Sunday after Pentecost (June 6) thru 9th Sunday after Pentecost (July 25)
Lord God, be with those who seek our nation’s welcome, and with all those living in uncertain circumstances. Sustain them in hope, and challenge our own self-satisfaction in the face of their needs.
10th Sunday after Pentecost (Aug. 1) thru 16th Sunday after Pentecost (Sept. 12)
Lord God, give us hearts and wills to embrace the alien and the stranger in our midst. May our personal and communal lives reflect the welcome you have all people.
17th Sunday after Pentecost (Sept. 19) thru 23rd Sunday after Pentecost (Oct. 31)
Lord God, hear the cry for justice in the lives of immigrants and refugees. Unstop our ears that we may listen to their needs, and soften our hearts to be to them palpable signs of your compassion and righteousness.
All Saints’ Day (Nov. 1)
Lord God, grant the world to know that in you there are no longer strangers nor aliens. In the power of your Sprit reveal all your people as members of your household, and may our lives show forth the welcome and inclusion which is your will.
25th Sunday after Pentecost (Nov. 14)
Lord God, may your kingdom come bringing with it the righteousness that is your promise. Uncover the deceptions that keep our sisters and brothers estranged and in fear. Be with those awaiting trials and all who are detained. Through our efforts for them may they know your comfort.
Last Sunday after Pentecost: Christ the King (Nov. 21)
Lord God, shed abroad among nations and leaders the abiding truth and love you have revealed in Jesus. Make known the sovereign justice that transcends borders and governments, and protect in your gentleness the victims of injustice and the casualties of our own complacency. 

written by Rev. Luis Rodriguez, St Paul's Bakersfield

Prayer in a time of pandemic​
Loving God, throughout the Scriptures you call us to “Fear not!”, but these are troubling times for the hardiest souls. Give us courage to face the challenges of this new threat to your human family. Give us prudence, to do the necessary things to protect ourselves and others. Give us the clarity of vision to learn from this disease the lesson we are too prone to forget, that we are all connected, regardless of race or nationality or political persuasion. We pray for those who are struggling with this disease, that their health may be restored. We pray for medical personnel and first responders caring for those in need, that they remain healthy and unflagging in their life-saving work. And we pray for all those economically impacted, that they may find the resources to maintain themselves and their families.  We ask all this, trusting in your abiding love, a love that even death cannot defeat. Amen.

Written by Deacon Tom Hampson, St John's Lodi

Special Prayers for Immigrants During COVID-19

Oh Lord; in this time of Covid-19 as we take shelter in our homes, we ask you to spread your love and healing over our brothers and sisters held in overcrowded detention centers and refugee camps. 
We ask Lord that you may soften the hearts of those in authority, that them may care for our sisters and brothers in this time of crises.

We ask this in Jesus’s name. Amen

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Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Services (LIRS) has developed a toolkit for supporting immigrants currently in detention.