Readying for Reform in DC

Posted by Gideon Aronoff on Fri, Jul 31, 2009 at 10:42 am

I’m just back from Washington, DC where earlier this week I joined clergy and religious leaders at an event, organized by HIAS and other partners, to address the broken state of our immigration system. Representing Jewish, Catholic, Evangelical, Mainline Protestant, and Unitarian organizations, the group came together out of a shared belief that people of faith in America want real reform of our immigration laws to end our current de-facto illegal immigration system – one that leads to violence and chaos on the borders, exploitation of immigrant workers, unfair advantages for unscrupulous employers, and disrespect for the rule of law.

Among the most compelling facts raised during the meeting was new poll data that shows that 86% of Americans want immigration reform that will secure the border and require undocumented immigrants to register for legal status. The public wants immigration reform so that immigrants can be protected and so that full tax contributions by immigrants can help our country deal with our current economic crisis. Progress on immigration reform is needed, not simply outrage and bluster on talk radio and cable news that does nothing to address our country’s real problems.

All of the participating leaders concurred that our various faith traditions and American national interests compel us to advocate for solutions that include a path to citizenship for the 11-12 million undocumented immigrants, worker protections and realistic opportunities for future legal immigrants, effective and humane border and immigration enforcement policies, compassionate reunification of immigrant families, and integration policies to promote our common American civic values. The agenda for the faith leaders mirrored the Interfaith Platform on Humane Immigration Reform, endorsed by over 500 national and local religious organizations and leading clergy.

The day of training and briefings engaged and empowered all in attendance and inspired us to bring this message to our religious communities, the media, and our government leaders to demand action. While the real work will be done in the weeks and months to come as we push for immigration reform this year and oppose efforts to demagogue the issue and demonize immigrants, we made a down payment on this effort by going to Capitol Hill to speak with key Congressional leaders advocating action on this top priority issue for Americans of faith.

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