United Methodist Agencies and Organizations
Promote “Genuine” Immigration Reform
NEW YORK, June 19, 2007—Arguing for "genuine reform," seven United Methodist agencies and organizations are opposing the Comprehensive Immigration Reform Act of 2007 before the US Senate unless significant changes are made in the draft law.
A letter to the Senate states that the bill, S. 1348, "fails to achieve" any of the goals long advocated by the church and other advocates of genuine comprehensive immigration reform. These goals include reunification of families, a fair earned pathway to citizenship, and humanitarian border policies that maintain the civil liberties of all people.
In addition, the United Methodist letter spoke out against the proposed guest-worker program, because it does not guarantee "an increase in the number of visas for future workers with full labor protections and just wages."
The letter is signed by the chief executives or other officers of the General Board of Church and Society, the General Board of Global Ministries, the Women's Division of Global Ministries, the General Commission on Religion and Race, National Plan for Hispanic/Latino Ministry, Methodists Associated to Represent the Cause of Hispanic Americans (MARCHA), and the National Federation of Asian American United Methodists.
In describing the church as "a denomination with many immigrant members," the letter encouraged Congress to "reject the easy road of punishing immigrants," and instead to provide "reasonable and compassionate leadership so that these new immigrant families can also achieve their American dreams."
"The Senate bill contains harsh enforcement provisions that erode civil-liberty protections and do not provide for real security," according to the letter. "Further militarization of the border and denial of due process to immigrants will not stop illegal immigration or secure our borders. National security will be achieved only as genuine reform is enacted that includes legal avenues for citizenship for all undocumented migrants."
The full text of the letter and the names and organizations of the signers follow.
To Members of the Senate of the United States of America:
We, the undersigned representatives of agencies and organizations of The United Methodist Church, oppose final passage of the Comprehensive Immigration Reform Act of 2007, S. 1348, in its current form. We recognize the long hours of difficult work that many in the Senate have spent on this legislation, and while it takes some steps towards reform, we encourage the Senate to continue the important task of bringing forward legislation that will genuinely reform our broken immigration system.
Signers of this appeal represent the following organizations and groups within The United Methodist Church: General Board of Church and Society, General Board of Global Ministries, the General Commission of Religion and Race, the Women's Division-General Board of Global Ministries, the National Plan for Hispanic/Latino Ministry, and Methodists Associated to Represent the Cause of Hispanic Americans (MARCHA).
Informed by the requirement on God's people throughout Scripture to treat the stranger with respect and dignity, we have consistently advocated for comprehensive immigration reform and will oppose any effort by the Senate to pass legislation which does not include:
The Senate bill fails to achieve any of these goals. The pathway to citizenship includes unreasonable fees and fines as well as mandatory return trips to home countries, regardless of possible persecution or intolerable conditions that might await those who return, or reasonable guarantee of visas. The burdensome obstacles for migrants ensure that this pathway is not meant for all of the undocumented.
The guest-worker program in the Senate bill does not offer a direct path to citizenship and prevents low-skilled workers from bringing their families with them. The Senate's guest-worker program also does not provide labor protections or just wages, and so in the end creates a two-tiered labor force, a permanent underclass of workers without the necessary rights or protections.
The Senate bill shifts from family-based immigration, which has characterized the immigration system for the last 40 years, to a system based on merit that favors educated, highly skilled workers. As people of faith the family holds special significance, for it is the family throughout Scripture that God uses to care, train, teach, and preserve the individual. When the amendments that supported immigrant families by Senators Robert Menendez (D-NJ), Hillary Clinton (D-NY), Chuck Hagel (R-NE), and Barack Obama (D-IL) failed to pass, the Senate rejected the importance of these family values. Under the provisions of this bill immigrant families will remain separated, and illegal immigration will continue.
The Senate bill contains harsh enforcement provisions that erode civil-liberty protections and do not provide for real security. Further militarization of the border and denial of due process to immigrants will not stop illegal immigration or secure our borders. National security will be achieved only as genuine reform is enacted that includes legal avenues for citizenship for all undocumented migrants.
As a denomination with many immigrant members we are compelled to advocate for immigration reform that is both moral and effective. The Senate bill is neither, and will only bring greater trauma to immigrant communities and confusion to the American public. We encourage the Senate and the House to reject the easy road of punishing migrants who have come to this country to work, maintain their families, and contribute to the health of the overall society. Instead, we encourage the members of Congress to provide reasonable and compassionate leadership so that these new immigrant families can also achieve their American dreams.
Current endorsers of this appeal and their contact information include (others may be added):
Bishop Joel N. Martinez, President
Lois M. Dauway
Bishop Minerva Carcaño, Chair
Bishop Elías Galván
Rev. Mark M. Nakagawa, Chair
Date posted: Jun 19, 2007