Skip to main content

Immigration Issues

Legal Resources


Information, Advice and Representation

The Office of Immigration Issues was created by the 216th General Assembly (2004) of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) to provide “reliable advice and counsel to presbyteries and pastors whose members have immigration problems.”

The Office provides general information about immigration law to all Presbyterian mid-councils, churches and entities. In complex cases, involving non-resident religious workers coming to work for the Presbyterian Church, the Office can provide legal representation. Please view the chart of legal assistance levels (PDF) and contact Teresa Waggener at or 502-569-5372 if you are a Presbyterian entity with an immigration question.


Many immigration issues require the advice and representation of local immigration counsel. While direct legal representation is reserved only for Presbyterian entities calling a non-resident religious worker in certain complex cases, the staff is able to make referrals to local counsel through the Immigration Advocates Network (IAN) and American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA). Please use the IAN online legal directory and/or the AILA online legal directory to find immigration legal services in your area.


Family Care Plan
Some Presbyterians and local community members lack lawful immigration status and live in fear of being detained by immigration officials. As Presbyterians, we are led by the standards of the great ends of the church in the Book of Order, one of which, is to strive for,

“the shelter, nurture, and the spiritual fellowship of the children of God . . .”

The Office offers family care plans in English and Spanish to assist church communities in offering shelter, nurture, and spiritual fellowship to the children of God in our midst who are vulnerable because of their immigration status. Help the undocumented members of your congregation prepare a family care plan so that they can ensure that their children will be cared for, their prescriptions can be filled and they can have some sense of control over their lives in the event that they are detained.

Legal Resource Manual for Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) Middle Governing Bodies and Churches
The Legal Department of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) has compiled a legal resource manual to give general legal information to Presbyterian middle governing bodies and churches. See Section Seven (7) of this legal resource manual for information about some of the most common immigration issues facing church communities.

Know Your Rights
Be prepared for an encounter with the Immigration Agencies of the Department of Homeland Security. Download these Know Your Rights packets from the Immigration Legal Resource Center (ILRC) in English, Spanish and Portuguese.

If someone you know has been detained, this resource (in Spanish) may be helpful. Resource 1 Resource 2

Workers and Employers
Mid-councils, churches and Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) entities often hire persons from other countries. Workers and employers need to know their obligations to one another and to the government. Please see our Workers and Employers page for more information.

Do you have undocumented students in your school? Not sure what to do, how to help them, how to encourage them to stay in school, pursue their dreams?  Here is a guide you can print out or download which will answer many of your questions and provide resources to be an encouragement to your students.  These resources can make a huge difference in your aspiring American students’ lives.