Faith Leaders Stand Against Hate in the Immigration Debate

Posted on Tue, Sep 15, 2009 at 14:55 pm

(Washington, DC) – HIAS, the international migration agency of the American Jewish community, joined faith leaders from diverse American denominations and Members of Congress today to pray for an end to hateful rhetoric and the politics of fear that scapegoat immigrant workers, separate immigrant families, and divide our communities.

The prayer vigil on the grounds of the U.S. Capitol was planned in response to the annual lobby day of The Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR), designated a hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center. The faith leaders from across the country used the vigil to urge Members of Congress to ignore the voices of hate and exclusion, and to remember the highest ideals of our faith and our country, by supporting immigrants and their families and the need for just and humane reform.

The network of affiliates that are part of the Interfaith Immigration Coalition were simultaneously asked to call their Members of Congress with the same message.

Dale Schwartz, Chair of HIAS’ Public Policy Committee said: “As the Jewish New Year, Rosh Hashanah, approaches, we call for a new rhetoric in the immigration debate. Rhetoric that offers solutions and that reflects our values and ideals. Instead of spouting hate, let’s find ways to move forward to address our broken system in a comprehensive and humane way.”

Other faith leaders who spoke included Bishop John Wester, Diocese of Salt Lake City & Chairman of the Committee on Migration for the US Conference of Catholic Bishops; Bishop Prince Singh, Episcopal Diocese of Rochester; Bishop Minerva Carcaño, Desert SW Conference of the United Methodist Church; and Rev. Simon Bautista, Latino Missioner, Espicopal Diocese of Washington.These faith leaders were joined by Congressman Luis Gutierrez (D-IL) and Congressman Jared Polis (D-CO).

Congressman Luis Gutierrez highlighted the message that “the anti immigrant individuals have been wrong about past generations of immigrants and they are wrong about today’s immigrants.”