The Common Good

Religious Leaders Respond to WH Mtg on Immigration

Source: Sojourners
Date: March 22, 2010

Please contact Jason Gedeik at 202-230-2555 / to schedule interviews.

Religious Leaders Respond to White House Meeting on Immigration Reform
“Keep Your Promise: Reform Immigration Now”

FOR MEDIA: Faith leaders who attended today’s White House meeting are available for interviews

WASHINGTON, DC – March 22, 2010 — A high-level delegation of religious leaders today met with senior White House officials to push for immigration reform to be moved forward in Congress. This meeting follows Sunday’s massive mobilization on the National Mall where more than 100,000 people representing civil rights, immigrant, family and labor groups demonstrated their unified support for immigration reform.  Hundreds of people of faith will also meet with their Senators and Representatives on Monday to urge them to pass immigration reform.

Remarks from faith leaders in attendance:

“Our Jewish texts command us to “welcome the stranger” – a commandment that is repeated to us more than any other. This country was built by “strangers” as a haven for others. We are far a better nation than our current immigration laws belie. The immigration system is broken and needs to be fixed. The President and Congress must fulfill our promise and potential as a nation founded by immigrants for immigrants.”

-- Gideon Aronoff, President and CEO, HIAS, the Hebrew Immigrant Aid Society

“Immigration reform is a crying need of our time. I can’t turn my back on my friend Sarah who was brought here as an infant, went to school here, got married and is starting to raise her family. She has no legal standing in our country though she is a supporter of her community. Sarah and all the people like her need a path to citizenship and they need it now.”

-- Sister Simone Campbell, Executive Director, NETWORK

“We are pleased that President Obama and Members of Congress are finally giving long overdue attention to resolving the immigration crisis this year.  Fixing our broken immigration system is important to the security and prosperity of all Americans, and particularly to the hardworking immigrant families who contribute so much to our churches and communities.  Immigration reform can’t wait.  We want action now.”

-- Galen Carey, Director of Government Affairs, National Association of Evangelicals

“The White House has restated its commitment to move immigration reform forward. We hope and expect to see the president provide the leadership to make this happen this year. It is in everyone's best interest.”

-- Rev. Peg Chemberlin, President, National Council of Churches

As Christians we are called to love our neighbors and provide hospitality to strangers. Therefore we call for comprehensive legislation to establish a safe and humane immigration system that is consistent with our values.  It must uphold family unity as a priority, create a process for undocumented immigrants to earn legal status and eventual citizenship, humanitarian border and internal enforcement, and allow undocumented young adults who grew up in this country to access education and legal status.  Furthermore, international policy reforms must include a renegotiation trade agreements especially the North American Free Trade Agreement and cancel excessive debt held by poor countries.  Immigration reform is needed now!  

-- Rev. M. Linda Jaramillo, Executive Minister, Justice and Witness Ministries, United Church of Christ

“As a pastor I have witnessed the brokenness of our immigration system firsthand. We have individuals from 75 different nations attending our weekend services. Some are here illegally to escape poverty and to make a better life, but now face only two options: to stay in the shadows or to be deported.  In the Hebrew Bible, special provision is made for immigrants, along with orphans and widows, to safeguard the most vulnerable people in Israelite society.  God’s call to people who value the authority of the Bible is clear: remember where you came from and act with justice and love towards the immigrant in your midst.” 

-- Rev. Rich Nathan, Pastor of Vineyard Church of Columbus, the second largest church in Ohio

"The upcoming elections may very well make it more difficult for immigration reform legislation to pass prompting one famous question, If not now when, if not this administration with this congress, who? We need reform that protects our borders, our values and unites our country in order for all of us to confront the challenges before us. "

-- Rev. Samuel Rodriguez, National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference & the Hispanic National Association of Evangelicals, the second largest church in Ohio

“The President and Members of Congress continue to assert their support for immigration reform; but actions speak louder than words.  We all know that Congress is hesitant to tackle tough issues before mid-term elections.  But comprehensive reform legislation must be introduced, and must be passed.  We don’t want more verbal commitments, we want action.”  

-- Rev. Jim Wallis, President & CEO, Sojourners

"Our nation was built by immigrants, my denomination was founded by immigrants, and immigrants continue to build, fill, and enrich our churches.  God calls us, our history moves us, and our denomination's resolutions urge us to stand for humane immigration reform. Next to health care reform, this issue needs to be a top priority for passage this year."

-- Rev. Dr. Sharon Watkins, General Minister & President, Christian Church (Disciples of Christ)

“As followers of Jesus, we heed the call to welcome the sojourner and advocate on behalf of the vulnerable. Faith communities are uniquely situated to hear the cries of the millions of immigrant families who are victims of a broken immigration system and who continue to wait for real change. But we cannot wait any longer. Militarizing the border and increasing interior enforcement have only brought about greater suffering for our immigrant brothers and sisters. We need an immigration system that maintains family unity and provides a pathway to citizenship with minimal obstacles. We need the President to lead and the Congress to enact just, humane reform legislation this year.”

-- Rev. Jim Winkler, General secretary of the General Board of Church & Society, The United Methodist Church

# #