Kelly Organ was near the end of her senior year in high school when she saw a chaotic scene taking place on the television mounted overhead in the school cafeteria.
The news in Postville, Iowa, was showing a federal Immigration and Customs Enforcement raid on a farm business processing plant.
The daughter of an immigrant from Canada, Organ watched in horror as hundreds of people were shackled, lined up, and herded onto buses.
“The ramifications of the raid for my personal understanding of immigration policy were dramatic,” Organ wrote in the Office of Social Justice’s booklet Church Between Borders, which features an education program on immigration justice.
“Along with others in my community, I struggled to understand the situation: Why workers were punished before a corrupt employer; why there was no effective way for those workers to have received legal work visas; why families had to be separated . . . and what my role as a Christian was in all this mess.”
Organ works as an intern for the CRC’s Office of Social Justice, which addresses a range of issues. Recently it has emphasized immigration reform in the United States.
“Our two main efforts right now are raising awareness about the issue through the Church Between Borders workshop and helping set up meetings with U.S. legislators to advocate on this issue,” says Kris Van Engen, a congregational justice mobilizer.
The call for immigration reform is becoming a nationwide movement of Christians, Van Engen said.
“Undocumented immigrants tell their stories to new friends at church, and now more Christians are recognizing that it is nearly impossible to immigrate legally under our current system in order to take jobs.
“When Christians notice that a majority of the burden and blame for a dysfunctional system is being placed on those who are most vulnerable, it becomes difficult to stay silent.”
Van Engen says that as churches hear these stories, many are turning to the Church Between Borders workshop or other resources their denomination offers.