In the State of Tennessee, Immigrants have been devalued for many years and continue to be. There are many who would disagree, and many who would agree. However, when it comes to the facts and statistics, it becomes harder to disagree because the word devalued is awfully in close relationship with Immigrants because of what they face in the Volunteer State.
Here are four ways Immigrants are devalued in Tennessee:
- Immigration system. The current Immigration system is broken and has created a devalued and moral crisis in the United States for Immigrants, documented and undocumented, and U.S. Citizens. The current system does not meet the needs of the U.S., hurts the economy, and the people living here. Therefore, an approach to immigration that provides smart and effective border security, addresses the status of those immigrants who are residing in the U.S. without authorization, proposes overdue fixes to an outdated visa system, respects and sees the value of every Immigrant, protects the unity of the family, respects the rule of law, ensures fairness to taxpayers, establishes an earned path toward legal status and/or citizenship for Immigrants who qualify or wish to become permanent residents, and envisions interior immigration enforcement that both deters illegal immigration and protects the public is critical to creating an enduring solution. For the economic interests of our nation, and to Biblically value Immigrants, and all U.S. Citizens in America, Congress must work together to build a healthier, fair, and more value based immigration process. (Paraphrased from the Evangelical Immigration Table & National Immigration Forum)
- Biblical Education. According to Lifeway Research, only 12% of Evangelical Christians primarily choose to view Immigration from the Bible. In other words, 88% of Christians primarily choose to view immigration from something other than the Bible such as politics, economics, legality, ignorance, and fear. This is a problem because Christians are commanded to view everything in life from God’s inerrant and infallible word–but this has not been the case when it comes to Immigration. Therefore, we must understand that a lack of Biblical education on Immigration is to participate in the devaluing of Immigrants. This is what we have seen with the Church in Tennessee.
- Praxis. According to Christianity Today, 86% of Protestant pastors in the U.S. affirm that Christians should “care sacrificially for refugees and foreigners”, but only 8% say their church is currently involved in serving these communities locally. In other words, the majority of Pastors, and I would go as far as to say their Church, knows they should care for Refugees & Immigrants theologically, but at the same time their praxis is missing. To sum this up, Pastors and their Church are talking the talk, but are not walking the walk when it comes to praxis, and actually doing things to care for Refugees and Immigrants in Tennessee.
- Tuition Equality. In the State of Tennessee, there is no tuition equality for thousands of Undocumented Immigrant students in order for them to attend college. These thousands of Undocumented Students have been brought over from their country as babies and children without a choice. The Volunteer State knows this and allows Undocumented Students to attend public school from Kindergarten all the way up to 12th grade. However, when an undocumented student wants to attend college, he or she has to pay out-of-state tuition even though he or she more than likely has solid grades, wants to make Tennessee a better place, has grown up in Tennessee, and is emotionally and academically prepared for college. Undocumented Students having to pay out-of-state tuition has made them feel devalued, and this is injustice. Furthermore, here at Memphis immigration Project, along with other organizations will continue to advocate for The Tuition Equality Bill (House Bill 675) which is a long overdue step toward equity in schools. It is an education bill, not an immigration bill. It is the foundation of American values that Tennessee is a land of opportunity for Undocumented Immigrant Students.