In response to the United States Senate’s vote to pass S. 744, the Senate’s immigration reform legislation, Episcopal Church Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori and Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA) Presiding Bishop Mark S. Hanson have issued the following joint statement.
United States Senate Passes Compassionate and Humane Immigration Reform
Today, Lutherans and Episcopalians celebrate the Senate’s passage of comprehensive immigration reform. As people called by our faith to welcome the newcomer, we are thankful for the relief the bill seeks to provide to migrants who are our friends, family, neighbors, and members of our congregations.
Serious and long-standing problems in our current immigration system will be remedied if the Senate’s bill becomes law. As many as 11 million men, women, and children are currently living in the United States with no lawful immigration status. These individuals live on the margins of our society and face constant risk of exploitation, discrimination, and deportation. Families are separated through bureaucratic delay and inadequate legal immigration channels as well as immigration enforcement actions. Our clergy are often among the first people families turn to for help when separated from a loved one and this ministry makes clear the pressing need for reform.
The Senate’s bill improves our ability to minister to the neediest among us, as our congregations and service organizations provide assistance to help newcomers thrive in the United States. The legislation recognizes the many blessings migrants bring to our communities and moves our immigration system closer to compassion. Although the Senate’s bill is not perfect, U.S. citizens and aspiring Americans alike would benefit from the enactment of this historic legislation as families are reunited, businesses are opened, and vulnerable migrants and refugees receive the protection they seek.
At this joyful moment, Lutherans and Episcopalians thank the Senate for approving comprehensive immigration reform. As the legislative process moves to the House of Representatives, we will continue our prophetic witness to justice, calling for immigration laws and policies that unite all families and treat all persons with dignity and compassion. Ongoing and bold advocacy, in partnership with Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Service and Episcopal Migration Ministries, will not stop until our laws, policies, and practices offer welcome, compassion, and justice to migrants and refugees. We pray members of the House of Representatives will continue this momentous work and keep the plight of migrants and refugees in their hearts as they consider immigration reform.
The Most Rev. Katharine Jefferts Schori
Presiding Bishop and Primate
The Episcopal Church
The Rev. Mark S. Hanson
Evangelical Lutheran Church in America