Immigration & Migration

“Dios es nuestro amparo y fortaleza,” (“God is our refuge and strength,”) – Psalm 46:1

In a state largely composed of immigrants, many Americans can relate to histories of migration, displacement, and the promise of the American dream. Each group of immigrants has received varying degrees of welcome, but manage to survive and thrive in the face of adversity and challenge.

Across the globe, migration is increasing and causing civil unrest in many developed nations where immigration poses a threat to the status quo. As a church, we are committed to welcoming the stranger, offering food for the journey, and reconciling across lines of differences of race, ethnicity, language, and culture.

Our past priorities on immigration and migration in California have included healthcare coverage through Medi-Cal for undocumented folks up to the age of 26. We are currently working on legislation that would provide similar coverage for undocumented seniors.

Congregations can support our work by advocating with us for the rights and dignity of our immigrant neighbors, documented or not. You can also participate in direct action and support members of your community who live in fear of ICE raids.

ELCA: Sanctuary Church


AMMPARO is a holistic, whole church commitment by the ELCA, as a church in the world, to accompany migrant children today and in the future.

The word “amparo” in Spanish means the protection of a living creature from suffering or damage. The ELCA’s strategy to Accompanying Migrant Minors with Protection, Advocacy, Representation and Opportunities (AMMPARO) was envisioned after witnessing the plight of children who are forced to flee their communities because of complex and interrelated reasons, including chronic violence, poverty, environmental displacement and lack of opportunities in El Salvador, Honduras and Guatemala. Due to our connection to companion churches in the region, including companion synod relationships, and existing ministries in the U.S., the ELCA is well-positioned to help ensure that these vulnerable children are protected.

In a holistic, whole church response that connects international and US outcomes, the ELCA has developed this strategy based on the following commitments:

  • Uphold and guarantee basic human rights and safety of migrant children and their families;
  • Address the root causes of migration in countries from Central America’s Northern Triangle and Mexico and the treatment of migrants in transit;
  • Work toward just and humane policies affecting migrants in and outside the U.S.; and
  • Engage as a church body with all of its companions, affiliates and partners to respond to the migration situation and its causes and to advocate for migrant children and their families.

For more information, check out AMMPARO Resources.

ELCA Social Message

The ELCA social message on “Immigration” presents basic themes for discernment on questions of immigration. It draws from Scripture and the experience of Lutherans in America as an immigrant church in a country of immigrants. The basic themes are grounded in the call to welcome the stranger (Matthew 25:35) together with the commitment to justice that advocates for fair and generous laws.

The message calls for the church to be a welcoming place and points out that immigration, refugee and asylum policies express who we are as a nation and influence the nation’s future character. It focuses on questions for discussion and discernment such as facilitating citizenship, newcomers without legal status and the border with Mexico.


You can read or download the full social message on “Immigration” in English or en español. This social message was adopted in 1998 by the Church Council of the ELCA.

Social Policy Resolution

In 2009, the ELCA adopted the following Public Policy Resolution on immigration:

Toward Compassionate, Just, and Wise Immigration Reform

Prayers and Petitions

The Archdiocese of Chicago published a wonderful collection of prayer and petitions for congregations to use in services and bible studies. For example:

Walk with Us

Journeying God
Migrant Christ
Border-crossing Spirit

You are always making something new in us.
You weave together the textures and colors
of all cultures, and races.

You move in us,
calling us to leave everything behind,
our homes, families, identities and culture.

No wall is too high or too wide to keep us from your table.
No laws are so strong as to lock us away from your love.
No visa is needed to enter your Kindom.*

Walk with us as we find our way to freedom.
Stay with us as we confront the barriers that keep us from your good.
Breathe new life in us as we live into a new creation,

in which we join you at your most holy table,
where everyone is welcome.

* “Kindom of God” is a term growing in usage as an alternative to “Kingdom of God”–it describes a vision of community where God is all in all, and human hierarchies give way to relationships of justice.

Walk with Us: A Prayer for Immigration Rights Sunday, was written by the Reverend Delle McCormick, Executive Director of Border Links, an experiential education program which focuses on issues of immigration, community formation, sustainable development and social justice in the borderlands between Mexico, the U.S. and beyond.