Eighty percent of illegal immigrants captured and put in prison in the U.S. are Hispanic. (Dallas Fox Online photo)
USA (MNN) ― Stories of illegal immigration to the U.S. from Mexico pepper the news, and Arizona seeks to pass a law forcing them from their borders. On top of this, the U.S. Hispanic population has reached 46.9 million.
As this population increases, Crossroad Bible Institute has found that the number of Spanish-speaking inmates has increased exponentially, now constituting about 15 percent of people in the national prison system.
Cynthia Williams of CBI said, "We've noticed that the prison population can kind of be divided into two groups almost equally, with over half of those being incarcerated for sort of standard crimes, the other half for violations of immigration laws."
Of the illegal immigrates captured and placed in prison, 80 percent of them are Hispanic.
Realizing this great need, CBI developed a Spanish version of their curriculum in 2002, which considers the unique challenges facing this demographic.
For Spanish-speaking prisoners who committed a "standard crime," CBI addresses issues such as regret and guilt, like they would any other person serving time for robbery, assault or murder.
But for illegal immigrants, CBI addresses the unique issues these individuals may encounter. Williams said, "Those incarcerated for being undocumented immigrants also face issues of separation from their families; concern for their family's well-being, perhaps in their home countries; [and] a lot of anxiety over their future. We find that they really have a lack of support from the outside while they're serving their time here in the U.S. while they are waiting to be deported or even sentenced that ... produces a real significant sense of isolation."
If they choose to enroll in CBI's curriculum, they find Christ's love and how He can deliver them from feelings of anxiety and isolation.
Williams shared one student's excitement: "I am very happy. I feel a great joy every time I receive a corrected lesson and a comment, and even more the letters from the instructors. I keep them to show my children and other people that I'm part of a great family. I ask that you never leave this beautiful ministry to which God has called you. You can truly imagine the effect the letters of encouragement have on us. It gives us the encouragement that we so need in this horrible place, where so many of us have been abandoned by our families and where we have so little value to society."
Yet, with this great response and need, there is a shortage of instructors. "We're in real significant need of more instructors to be able to accommodate this continual growth. We're asking the Lord to bring forward people who have a heart, not only for prison ministry--looking at these people not as people to be forgotten and thrown away, but people who really need the Gospel and to know Christ and experience His love--especially [those] who have a burden for Hispanic brothers and sisters in prison," Williams said.
Instructors must be able to speak Spanish well. Interested parties can call CBI at (800)668-2450, e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org, or visit their Web site. Training takes place at your home.