Methodist bishop Minerva Carcano on front lines of immigration battle

Methodist bishop Minerva Carcano on front lines of immigration battle

PASADENA, Calif. (RNS) When United Methodist Bishop Minerva G. Carcaño talks about tussling with political bigwigs on the topic of immigration reform, she is poised, yet forceful. As the first female Hispanic bishop elected in the nation’s second-largest Protestant denomination, Carcaño has had a lot of practice keeping her cool, especially when it comes to discussing divisive politics.

“Immigrants can stay as long as they don’t ask for more than we want to give them, and as long they keep serving our needs at whatever pittance of a pay we want to extend to them,” Carcaño said in an interview in her office here.

“When people begin to say that’s not fair, that’s not just, then that ruffles feathers.”

Carcaño has emerged as a key religious player on the hot-button political debate over immigration reform. On Friday (March 8), Carcaño was among 14 religious leader who met with President Obama at the White House, where she was tasked with reaching out to Republican congressmen who may be reluctant to tackle the issue.

While Friday’s meeting left the bishop with a sense that “immigration reform is indeed a very high priority for the president,” she doesn’t shy away from voicing her own critiques. For example, that there is still too much emphasis on securing the border, she says.

Carcaño believes immigration reform needs to include a way to reunite families that have been separated because of U.S. policies, and while Obama speaks of cracking down on employers who hire undocumented workers, she believes the labor rights of immigrants need to be respected.

In addition to her role as immigration spokesperson for the United Methodists’ Council of Bishops, Carcaño leads the church’s California-Pacific Conference, an area that covers much of Southern California, Hawaii and U.S. territories in the Pacific Ocean, such as Guam.


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