Immigration Study Guide: Week Five
Faith Development, Immigration

Who Benefits From A Broken System?


  • Tying together what has been learned from the previous weeks
  • Reframing the debate from one of citizenship to one of globalization and corporate power

Learning Objectives

  • Understand how immigration does not necessarily hurt U.S. workers
  • Understand how corporations benefit from cheap labor
  • Understand how corporations benefit from the business of enforcement

Handouts 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, 8 pages)
  5. 5.5 Prison Economics Help Drive Ariz. Immigration Law (PDF, 5 pages)


5” Chalice Lighting and Opening Reading

10” Check-in

20” Activity 1: Cheap Labor for Cheap Goods

20” Activity 2: Economic Development

20” Activity 3: The Profitability of Prisons

10” Debrief

5” Closing

Chalice Lighting and Opening Reading

In order to address the issue of mass migration to the U.S., we must understand the root causes of this migration: poverty, conflict, oppression. Part of our responsibility is to study what effect U.S. foreign and economic policies may have on increasing poverty and oppression in the countries from which many immigrants come. As the Catholic Bishops of the US said. . . "We oppose efforts to stem migration that do not adequately address its root causes and that permit the continuation of the political, social, and economic inequalities that contribute to it.

—Statement of Principles on Immigration Issues, Interfaith Worker Justice Board of Directors


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

Activity 1: Cheap Labor for Cheap Goods

Based on what we learned in session three about the economic pressures on immigration and handouts 5.1 and 5.3, who is it that benefits from this large pool of undocumented workers? Who is hurt? In what ways are we as U.S. consumers complicit?

Activity 2: Economic "Development"

Much of our economic/trade policies with "developing" countries is based on the assumption that free-trade and globalization are beneficial to the poor. Based on handout 5.2, are these assumptions valid. Who is it that benefits from "economic development" and "free trade"? Tying in from session three, what is the effect on the workers as goods are shipped freely across borders?

Activity 3: The Profitability of Prisons

As we have learned from session one, being in the U.S. without proper documentation is a civil offense, not criminal. Yet in recent years there has been an increasing movement towards criminalizing undocumented immigration in order to "get tough" on those who come (or stay) without proper papers. Based on handouts 5.4 and 5.5, what other motivations are at work? Regardless of one's feelings about undocumented immigration, how do people feel about our tax dollars being spent this way?


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

Closing Reading and Extinguishing the Chalice

May God bless us with discomfort
at easy answers, half truths, and superficial relationships,
so that we may live deep within our hearts.

May God bless us with anger
at injustice, oppression, and exploitation of people,
so that we may work for economic justice for all people.

May God bless us with tears to shed for those who suffer
from pain, hunger, homelessness and rejection,
so that we may reach out our hand to comfort them
and to turn their pain into joy.

And may God bless us with enough foolishness
to believe that we can make a difference in the world
so that we can do what others claim cannot be done.

—Franciscan Prayer to End Poverty

Homework for Week Six

  1. 6.1 We Are One (PDF, 5 pages), by Unitarian Universalist Association (UUA) President, Rev. Peter Morales
  2. 6.2 Chronological Summary of UUA Statements on Immigration (PDF)
  3. 6.3 Liberation Theology (PDF, 11 pages)
  4. 6.4 Interfaith Platform on Humane Immigration Reform (PDF, 13 pages)
  5. 6.5 Who is my Neighbor? (PDF) (Research to be completed before session 6.)

Further Study

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

For more information contact

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