Fox News recently reported that "from California to Illinois to New Mexico, churches and religious organizations have opened their doors for undocumented immigrant children." And in a recent post, PARSE detailed five ways to respond compassionately to the unaccompanied child crisis.
There are certainly growing opportunities to reach out to immigrants. As church leaders think through how to best respond, they may wonder about what laws they might be breaking. For instance, what about undocumented immigrants attending worship services? Ann Buwalda, an immigration attorney, says in Church Law & Tax Report that "churches are under no legal obligation to restrict worship services to only those lawfully present in the United States." She does stress, however, that "churches should exercise the same level of screening for all volunteers, regardless of their citizen status, to exclude those who may have criminal histories and otherwise pose a risk to children or other congregants."
Managing Your Church previously covered three key voices on how churches should respond to illegal immigrants in the church.
For more information on this topic, check out the downloadable resource Immigration & the Church.
This content is designed to provide accurate and authoritative information in regard to the subject matter covered. It is published with the understanding that the publisher is not engaged in rendering legal, accounting, or other professional service. If legal advice or other expert assistance is required, the services of a competent professional person should be sought. "From a Declaration of Principles jointly adopted by a Committee of the American Bar Association and a Committee of Publishers and Associations."
Due to the nature of the U.S. legal system, laws and regulations constantly change. The editors encourage readers to carefully search the site for all content related to the topic of interest and consult qualified local counsel to verify the status of specific statutes, laws, regulations, and precedential court holdings.