Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Congregational Letter on Immigration Reform

Presbyterians are invited to use the following letter as a Congregational witness for just, compassionate, comprehensive immigration reform.  Check out this blog post for instructions.


Congregational Letter to Congress:

[Name of Point Person]
[Return Address of Point Person]
[City, State, ZIP]

Dear Representative: 

The General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A) has long called for the reform of our broken immigration system. Presbyterians around the country have advocated for just and humane immigration reform and this work has been rooted in the beliefs that all people are made in the image of God and that God calls us to welcome and love our neighbors. As people of faith, we are committed to speak out on our call to serve all those in need and to stand with the oppressed still today.

As such, we believe that it is time for a just and compassionate immigration reform that reflects the principles drafted by the General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A). We urge Representative [enter name here] to support reform that reflects the following:

   Provides a reasonable and inclusive path to citizenship without punitive costs, long waiting periods, or other irksome conditions for immigrants living in the U.S. 

   Preserves family unity by ensuring that we avoid the separation of families, revising visa preferences and caps, and eliminating visa backlogs. 

   Enacts border policies consistent with humanitarian values and with the need to treat all individuals with respect. Specifically, we are gravely concerned about the negative impact of the building of walls designed to move migrants to more dangerous parts of the border, the increased number of federal agents, and the deployments of armed National Guards to an already volatile region.

   Requires humane enforcement procedures that reduce human smuggling and migrant deaths, and that aim to eliminate human and civil rights abuses.  Such measures should include abolishing enforcement programs such as Operation Streamline and arrangements that involve local agencies in the enforcement of immigration laws, such as “287(g)” agreements and the Secure Communities program.  These programs lack oversight and transparency and have led to racial profiling, undermining the stability of communities and trust of law enforcement. 

   Facilitates integration of immigrants into our communities by celebrating the culture and languages of their homelands, by providing civics education and legal assistance to regularize their status, and by providing access to all social services.

   Eliminates lengthy detentions, except for those accused of dangerous crimes, strengthens due process protections at every stage of the system, and establish and stringently enforce minimum standards of care in all detention facilities.

   Enacts enforceable detention reforms, including rigorous medical treatment standards and increased access to pastoral care, legal counsel, and legal orientation programs.  Such reforms should also include the release of individuals who pose no risk to the community and expand use of community-based alternatives to detention that are more humane and cost-effective.

   Protects all workers from exploitation, abuse, and affronts to their dignity by enforcing labor and employment laws that provide fair wages, and the right to organize and seek redress for grievances. 

   Provides safe, legal, and realistic paths for future migration, consistent with the needs of the U.S. economy without undercutting the employment of anyone already working in the U.S., allow new migrants to bring their families with them and allow them the freedom to change places of employment.

   Pass legislation comparable to the DREAM Act that provides a pathway to citizenship for eligible students. 

Our prayer is that the House of Representatives will support these values and move quickly to see that just and compassionate reform is passed.

Thank you for your service to our district.


List of Signatories and their addresses