Jump directly to the content
Doctrine in the Desert: How Religion Informs the Immigration Debates

Doctrine in the Desert: How Religion Informs the Immigration Debates

Ananda Rose's new book explores the religious motivations of Southwest groups on opposite sides of the immigration question.
Leer en Español

If there's one truth all Christians can hold tight to amid the rancorous public debates about immigration, it's that the debate is ultimately about people. And nowhere is this reality starker than in the Arizona desert, where thousands of lives are lost each year as immigrants attempt to cross the foreboding terrain at the border.

Previous books, including Luis Alberto Urrea's The Devil's Highway and Kathryn Ferguson's Crossing with the Virgin, have documented migrants' trek across this wasteland. Showdown in the Sonoran Desert: Religion, Law, and the Immigration Controversy (Oxford University Press) is unique in that it includes the perspectives of those who oppose immigration. In Ananda Rose's work, the human face of immigration includes American citizens in Tucson on both sides of the issue—those who stand in solidarity with migrants, and those who defend the integrity of the border. The result is a wide range of emotions and opinions that reflects the complexity on the ground throughout Arizona.

What Do We Do with 'the Other'?

Part One, titled "God in the Desert: Migrant Deaths and the Rise of Border Ministries," comprises five chapters, each of which interacts with a particular group working to meet the physical needs of migrants. In contrast, the four chapters of Part Two, titled "Law in the Desert: Security, Sovereignty, and the Natural Rights of the State," engage those who are committed to stopping the flow across the Southern border. In both sections, Rose strives for objectivity and works to avoid taking sides. Her research is grounded in the pertinent literature but also includes interviews of key individuals on both sides of the border. While her sympathies seem to lie with the immigrants, she is willing to criticize the blind spots of pro-immigrant organizations.

In the opening chapter, Rose visits the border city of Nogales, Mexico, where she talks with three tireless nuns of the Sisters of the Eucharist who run El Comedor, a soup kitchen serving those attempting the trip north and others who have been removed from the United States and dropped off by border authorities. The second chapter turns to the New Sanctuary Movement, a ministry with roots in the Central American revolutions of the 1980s but reborn in early 2007 as a shelter for undocumented immigrants. The founders, pastor John Fife and Quaker leader Jim Corbett, among other activists, characterize their efforts as a "civil initiative" (not "civil disobedience," mind you), maintaining that they protect those whose human rights have been ignored or violated by the government.

1234  

Rethinking the $3,000 Missions Trip

Rethinking the $3,000 Missions Trip

When I learned that kids in my city couldn't swim, I started to rethink how much I'd invested in overseas missions.
Furniture Fit for the Kingdom

Furniture Fit for the Kingdom

For Harrison Higgins, building beautiful furniture is not simply a steady job but a sacrament unto God.
Faith in a Fallen Empire

Faith in a Fallen Empire

Detroit's list of maladies is long. But some Christians' commitment to its renewal is longer.
'Daddy, Why Do People Steal from Us?'

'Daddy, Why Do People Steal from Us?'

How I answered the question would prove crucial to addressing racial divides in our D.C. neighborhood.

Comments Are Closed

Displaying 1–3 of 3 comments

Obedience

September 13, 2012  10:47pm

she asks, "What would Jesus do?" At the very least, she says, he would call for a radical new vision of the problem and the solutions. - Ananda Rose is another confused individual.

Jason Lee

September 12, 2012  9:08pm

Jack i thought that was the legal immigration process, where many who want to come to the US have to wait? But good idea about salary being allocated to social security and any other programs. Only question would be if we allow this, how many more "Illegal/Undocumented" individuals will come to this country?

Jack

September 12, 2012  5:56pm

The immigration issue has two sides. One side does not want to reward illegal behavior, the other side wants to be merciful. I suggest this compromise. Allow the immigrants who do not have criminal records to have green cards become citizens after a ten year wait. As a fine for law breaking, they would have a percentage of their gross salary go into the Social Security tax. This would solve three problems, help keep Social Security solvent (which assists poor people), show mercy, and make it clear that law breaking will be punished. Let me observe that keeping Social Security would benefit many immigrants in their old age.

SUPPORT THIS IS OUR CITY

Make a contribution to help support the This Is Our City project and the nonprofit ministry Christianity Today.Learn more ...