Talking Points—Compassionate Immigration Reform
We are committed to the principles of Catholic Social Teaching that remind us that the dignity of the person is at the core of our moral vision of society; that how we organize our society affects human dignity directly; and that any system that is deliberately cruel or inhumane needs to change. We see the suffering caused by our broken immigration system in our parishes, service agencies, hospitals, and schools. We see families torn apart, workers exploited, and communities under siege. Our sisters came to these shores as immigrants to serve immigrant communities. We seek to continue their legacy of welcoming the stranger.
We call on Congress to pass just, compassionate immigration reform that:
1. Prioritizes Family Unity
The current immigration system causes much suffering among immigrant families and must end. People want to join their families through legal channels, but with wait times as long as 24 years, they have no real options. Fixing the immigration system will require that we honor the God-given desire to be with one's family. Families are the fabric of strong communities. Family unity spurs integration by providing strong foundations for learning English, purchasing a home, pursuing employment, starting a business, preparing children for school, and contributing to local communities.
2. Provides a Roadmap to Citizenship
Immigration reform must focus on citizenship for all 11 million aspiring Americans forced to live in the shadows of our communities because of their immigration status. People of faith strongly support a clear, timely, direct, and accessible pathway to full citizenship for our undocumented community members. Proposals that would create a pathway to legal status but stop short of citizenship are not consistent with who we strive to be as a nation, nor with how people of faith live out the scriptural commandment “to welcome the stranger.”
3. Protects Refugees and Migrant Survivors of Violence
Across the country, faith communities welcome refugees and help them build new lives. We support immigration reform that would enhance this country’s rich history of welcoming individuals fleeing persecution based on race, religion, nationality, political opinion, or membership in a particular social group. We oppose proposals that would negatively impact vulnerable populations' access to life-saving protection.
4. Ensures the Rights of All Workers
Immigration reform must be humane to workers, fair to employers, and adaptive to the needs of the global economy. We support reform that ensures job portability; workplace and living wage protections against exploitation, discrimination, and abuse; protection of workers’ family unity and allow immediate family of eligible workers to join them in the U.S.; labor market tests to guarantee that U.S. workers are not displaced; and an optional path to citizenship.
5. Places Humanitarian Values at the Center of Enforcement Policies
The U.S. has already dramatically increased enforcement efforts increasing deportations, fencing, border patrol officers, and detentions, spending over $18 billion of taxpayers’ money last year alone. It is time to truly reform the enforcement system by improving the efficiency of ports of entry, expanding visa availability, eliminating visa application backlogs, and restore integrity to the system by implementing humane guidelines that end unsafe deportations in the middle of the night, establish alternatives to detention, and ensure access to due process for those trying to navigate our complex immigration system.
6. Addresses the Root Causes of Illegal Immigration
Our faith compels us to seek to reduce the need for people to leave their homes in order to provide for their families. No one leaves home and family easily. We ask Congress and the administration to address the push factors that compel immigrants to undertake so arduous and dangerous a journey including systemic poverty, violence, and persecution.
Interfaith Immigration Coalition (IIC) is a partnership of faith-based organizations committed to enacting fair and humane immigration reform that reflects the mandate to welcome the stranger and treat all human beings with dignity and respect.
See their resources at www.interfaithimmigration.org.
Justice for Immigrants (JFI) is a campaign by the USCCB to educate about Church teaching on migration and immigrants; to create political will for positive immigration reform; and to enact legislative and administrative reforms based on the principles articulated by the bishops.
Visit them at www.justiceforimmigrants.org.
State Specific Facts and Figures
· Immigration Policy Center’s state-by-state fact sheets which highlight the demographic and economic impact of New Americans in each state.
· Partnership for a New American Economy’s interactive 50-state map reflecting the positive impact of immigration.
Video, Workshop & Online Resources
· Gospel without Borders, EthicsDaily.com
· Engaging Impasse, NETWORK
· Who is My Neighbour?, Colorado Council of Churches