By Jayne Muraki Rasmussen, Lay Leader, SJUMC
On Saturday, February 17, the Sacramento Japanese UMC (SJUMC) hosted immigration day, a workshop sponsored by the Sacramento Pentecost Circuit and the South Sacramento UMC Coalition. A combined group of fifty-two people came to hear immigration attorney Thomas Spaniolo speak about the latest information on the changing environment of immigration in the United States. The English language session at 10 a.m. was followed by a hosted lunch at noon, and the Spanish language session at 1 p.m. Bishop Minerva G. Carcaño was on hand to encourage and welcome participants of the event. Guest immigration attorney, Lisa Kobayashi provided current information as well. Many UM members from churches outside the Sacramento area also attended.
The Rev. Motoe Yamada Foor, pastor of SJUMC and Pentecost Circuit leader, welcomed participants. She recounted how the Holy Spirit brought Spaniolo and her together when they happened to be seated next to each other at the Annual Conference Session and she started talking about immigration needs in the circuit, unaware he was an immigration attorney. This set in motion the plans for the workshop.
The Rev. Katai Tapa (Oak Park UMC and Tongan-U), offered the opening prayer. For the next ninety minutes, Spaniolo fielded questions and discussed such topics as temporary protected status (TPS) as it relates to Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) and others, filing for an employment authorization card (EAC) and current lawsuits, and DACA renewals. Of chief interest was information regarding undocumented persons and their rights, or lack thereof, how it affects their families and the actions needed to remain in the country. Also discussed was the abuse of the term “chain migration” referring to family unification which strictly specifies which family members can be brought over. Spaniolo stressed the need for all immigrants to pay taxes (using tax ID number to file in lieu of Social Security number) to prove they are here in good standing, even though, if undocumented, they cannot receive some of the benefits of a taxpayer. A comment was made that an estimated $7 billion is paid into Social Security through deductions from paychecks of undocumented workers from which they will never receive benefits.
The Rev. Barbara Firebaugh-Horikoshi (Faith UMC) said grace over the lunch hosted by the SJUMC Mission Committee in conjunction with its Bowling Green Schools monthly family lunch program. Some families from the program joined the lunch and workshop. A cake was provided with Psalm 46:1 inscribed, “God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble” as a reminder that God is with us!
Pastor Pedro Cervantes (Emmanuel UMC) offered the prayer for the afternoon session. The Spanish-speaking participants were very interested and had many questions.
The hope is to collaborate with churches in the greater Sacramento area on a monthly or bi-monthly basis in order to reach more people in need of such resources, provide other services, and attract more volunteers. Most of all, we pray for all the people affected by immigration issues and ask for God’s continuing guidance.
Should you have any questions about this event or future ones, please contact the Rev. Motoe Yamada Foor at firstname.lastname@example.org, or (916) 421-1017.