Immigration Study Guide: Week Four
Faith Development, Immigration

Security, Enforcement and Human Rights


  • To get a glimpse of the enormity of the human suffering caused by the U.S.’ enforcement-only immigration policy
  • To consider how human rights are protected (or not)

Learning Objectives

  • Understand the cost of our enforcement-only immigration policy, in terms of money, lives and human rights
  • Understand the process by which immigration has become criminalized over time
  • Understand the relationship between state and local authorities and the federal government’s immigration enforcement agency.

Handouts for Week Four

  1. 4.1 Militarization of the Border (PDF, 8 pages)
  2. 4.2 What Happens When a Town Implodes? (PDF) – Postville Raid
  3. 4.3 Housing Immigration Detainees in a Prison (PDF, 5 pages)
  4. 4.4 Hazing Arizona (PDF) – Sheriff Arpaio and the 287(g) agreement
  5. 4.5 Mahmod’s Story—A Family Torn Apart (PDF)


5” Chalice Lighting and Opening Reading

10” Check-in

20” Activity 1: The Border

20” Activity 2: The Aftermath of a Raid

20” Activity 3: Detainees Near You

10” Debrief

5” Closing

Chalice Lighting and Opening Reading

I walk the path that you took
hours or days ago.
Stones and slope and thorns
threaten each step with
I see where you slept
under the mesquite tree
home to spiders, snakes, ants—
familiar to coyotes, Gila monsters,
God knows what.
A piece of plastic,
grass woven into the branches
for shade against the merciless sun,
a tuna can, toothbrush,
tortilla cloth, used bus ticket -
all part of your story,
your life lost in this desert.
Nearby a tiny silver spoon
engraved, a love letter
your bible, a pair of panties,
a baby bottle, birth control pills,
breast cancer medicine,
diapers, one chancla,
perfume bottle,
a pair of pants with
a name and number written in the inseam.
O, what you leave behind
haunts me
I know you
Sister, mother, friend,
Lover, aunt.
Some day
we will all be held
accountable for
your suffering, your loss.
Some day, we will
celebrate your courage,
your story, your making
your way to the Promised Land.
Some day we will
name this crossing Exodus
and thank God that
some of you make it

—Rev. Delle McCormick, La Ruta de Mujeres


Participants are invited to share where they are spiritually/emotionally with respect to the class.

Activity 1: The Border

Over the years, the U.S. has increasingly militarized the border between the U.S. and Mexico, as documented in handout 4.1. What are some of the human rights abuses that have resulted from this approach? What are the mechanisms for safeguarding the human rights of migrants, if any? Who is responsible for safeguarding the rights of those who seek to immigrate from one country to another?

Activity 2: The Aftermath of a Raid

This activity depends on the ability to show a 6 minute internet video (Note: make sure to hit the full screen button in the lower right hand corner of the video for easier viewing.) during the session, which means internet access and a laptop or other way to display the video. (Best to set this up before the session starts.)

Whether or not viewing the video during the session is possible,then facilitators are encouraged to lead a discussion around handout 4.2. What happens to a community in the aftermath of a large raid? Who is affected?

Activity 3: Detainees Near You

Before week four, facilitators should go to Detention Watch Network and use their map tool to look up detention centers near your congregation.  Print out a copy of the map of detention centers across the country and one of detention centers in your area (if any).

Ask participants whether they knew how many detention centers there are across the nation (and in your area, if any).  How do folks feel about that?  Based on handouts 4.3-4.5, compare the rights of detainees in detention centers versus inmates who are being held for criminal offenses.  


Participants are invited to share anything that strongly moved them during the session.

Closing Reading and Extinguishing the Chalice

“I was a stranger and you did not welcome me, naked and you did not give me clothing, sick and in prison and you did not visit me. Truly I tell you, just as you did not do it to one of the least of these, you did not do it to me.”

—Matthew 25:43, 45

Questions for Reflection:

For what reasons are immigrants arrested and incarcerated? And once incarcerated, how are individuals and families treated in detention centers?

There are international laws that protect the rights of migrants and refugees (mainly the UN Declaration of Human Rights and the Geneva Conventions). There are national laws that protect the rights of accused criminals. Are these laws adequate to protect people in the current context? Who is unprotected? Who is responsible for ensuring that human rights are protected?

Homework for Week Five

  1. 5.1 Don’t Be Fooled: Immigration is NOT the Real Problem (PDF)
  2. 5.2 Does Globalization Help the Poor? (PDF, 6 pages)
  3. 5.3 Migrants: Pawns in Mexico-U.S. Game (PDF)
  4. 5.4 This Alien Life: Privatized Prisons for Immigrants (PDF)
  5. 5.5 Prison Economics Help Drive Ariz. Immigration Law (PDF, 5 pages)

Further Study

To explore the topics covered in this session, as well as related topics, see the resources listed in section II.D (PDF, 12 pages) of the study guide.

For more information contact

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