Faith leaders speak out on immigration reform

UPDATE: President of the House of Deputies Gay Jennings has issued a letter asking Episcopalians to contact their Senators and Representatives about support for immigration reform. (see below)

The Rt Rev. Mariann Edgar Budde, bishop of the Diocese of Washington (DC) praises immigration proposals, credits voters:


“I thank God that after years of enduring harsh political rhetoric and dehumanizing treatment, immigrants without legal status in this country now have hope for a better day. It is long past time for our nation to provide legal status and a path to citizenship for those who toil in our fields, care for our children and elders, clean our homes and workplaces, and support our government through their taxes. It is a moral imperative that we give children brought to the United States at a young age opportunities for education and service here, in the country they consider home.

“I applaud both the bipartisan group of senators who have proposed a framework for immigration reform and President Obama for his leadership in placing this issue before us. His insistence that a U. S. citizen or a permanent resident be allowed to seek a visa for a same-sex partner is a necessary improvement on the senators’ proposal. The legislation must be clarified and refined, and we as people of faith will follow its progress diligently. But we have arrived at an excellent starting point, and I am especially grateful to the broad coalition of voters representing the wondrous diversity of our country who, in one election, changed the terms of this important debate. The future of our country has spoken and our elected leaders cannot stand in the way.”

Huffington Post reports praise and critique of immigration reform proposals:

After a bipartisan group of senators announced a plan on Monday to pass comprehensive immigration reform that includes a pathway to citizenship for 11 million undocumented immigrants, the praise and critique continues to pour in. That includes the voices of clergy, some of whom have been quite active in making their voices heard when it comes to the nation’s immigration policies.


Leith Anderson, President, National Association of Evangelicals:

Now is the time for immigration reform. We’ve settled too long for a broken system, and now the nation is ready for changes that are just, reasonable and compassionate. Let’s make immigration the issue where our political parties can come together and do what is right.


US Conference of Catholic Bishops:

While also commending the proposal, the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops wasn’t completely happy with it. Archbishop José H. Gomez of Los Angeles, chairman of the group’s committee on migration, called Monday’s announcement an “an important first step.” “It is vital that the framework includes a path to citizenship, so that undocumented immigrants can come out of the shadows and into the light and have a chance to become Americans,” said Gomez. “It gives hope to millions of our fellow human beings.”

But the according to a statement, Gomez and the bishops conference believe the framework “fails to restore due process protections to immigrants lost in the 1996 Illegal Immigration Reform and Immigrant Responsibility Act (IIRIRA) or address the root causes of migration, such as the absence of living-wage employment in sending communities or protection for refugees fleeing persecution.”

“As people of faith we believe the only solution to our harmful immigration policy that recognizes the inherent dignity and rights of all human persons is full citizenship for the 11 million aspiring Americans who work in our communities, raise their children alongside ours and worship with us,” said the Rev. Richard Smith, who is traveling to Las Vegas and is the pastor of the Episcopal Church of St. John the Evangelist in San Francisco.

The following is the letter from President Jennings.

January 29, 2013

Dear Sisters and Brothers in Christ:

For more than twenty-five years, the General Convention of The Episcopal Church has called for immigration measures that would give to undocumented immigrants the dignity and respect that we all possess as citizens of the realm of God. In keeping with that legislation, I applaud the current bipartisan proposal for immigration reform developed by eight senators who have overcome party differences to act for the common good. I am particularly glad that the senators have proposed an expedited pathway to citizenship for DREAM Act youth—the hardworking young people who were brought to this country as children—and for the farm workers on whom so many of us rely for our daily bread.

At the 77th General Convention in July 2012, The Episcopal Church strengthened its existing call for comprehensive immigration reform by urging that same-sex partners be treated in the same manner as opposite-sex partners in immigration matters. I am grateful to President Obama for including this measure in his immigration reform proposal, and I urge that lesbian and gay families be treated equally in the comprehensive immigration reform legislation that makes its way to Congress.

Last summer’s General Convention also expressed its concern about refugee policy and unjust immigration enforcement and I ask lawmakers to ensure that new or existing enforcement measures are humane and just and that we continue to welcome and protect refugees and those seeking asylum.

We Episcopalians know that welcoming the stranger among us is one of our greatest responsibilities and joys. You can stand with our immigrant sisters and brothers in the Episcopal Church and across the country by calling your members of Congress (House of Representatives directory; Senate directory). When you call, please ask them to pass comprehensive immigration reform swiftly; include an expedited pathway to citizenship for DREAM Act young people and farm workers; ensure that families can stay together; treat lesbian and gay families equally; and provide for humane enforcement and protection for vulnerable migrants and refugees who are victims of crime and domestic violence.

In our Baptismal Covenant, we have promised to strive for justice and peace among all people and respect the dignity of every human being. Advocacy for just public policy is one way of fulfilling that commitment, and I am grateful for the witness of General Convention that guides our way.


The Rev. Gay Clark Jennings

President, House of Deputies

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