A leader from the Latin American Council of Churches (CLAI) has proposed creating a bridge of solidarity between North American Churches and Central American immigrants who could be expelled from the United States under the new immigration law.
Rolando Soto, responsible for CLAI's Education for Peace project, specified that the initiative could be accompanied by legal advice, pastoral support, socio-economic and labour orientation and paperwork to support productive and housing projects. These projects will benefit some 2 million people from Guatemala, El Salvador, Honduras, Nicaragua and Costa Rica, who will have to return to their countries where the mentioned law comes into effect next September.
The Revd Martin Barahona, of the Anglican Church of El Salvador, proposed making an urgent call to national and regional councils and the World Council of Churches as well as Human Rights Organisations and the United Nations, to detain the massive deportation of Central Americans on the part of the US government.
Norman Bent, CLAI Secretary for the Aboriginal, Black and Against All Discrimination Pastoral, said that action should be taken immediately. According to Mr Bent the law began to be applied in March and led to a situation of injustice involving a Nicaraguan woman who was expelled, without a right to defence, despite being married, having children born in the United States and having lived there for 10 years.
Representatives from Lutheran, Baptist, Moravian, Anglican and Central American Pentecostal Churches, who attended the meeting convened by CLAI, approved the proposals, which will be shaped in a Managua Declaration, which will define a joint strategy.
Marilyn Mendez, CLAI Secretary for Central America, indicated that the meeting was convoked in the face of the dramatic situation facing hundreds of Central Americans and it is time that Churches joint efforts to lobby the US Congress to modify the immigrants law.
Letters were sent to President Bill Clinton of the USA, Christian organisations and European Churches in order to raise awareness among the North American people about the harshness of the immigrant law.