|United Methodist groups oppose immigration bill|
Thousands of immigrants and supporters
rally on the grounds of the U.S. Capitol in March 2006. United Methodist
leaders have sent a letter to the U.S. Senate opposing the current
immigration bill and calling for genuine reform.
A UMNS file photo by Rick Reinhard.
By United Methodist News Service
June 20, 2007
In a letter to the U.S. Senate, seven United Methodist agencies and
organizations opposed the Comprehensive Immigration Reform Act of 2007
and called for "genuine reform" that would allow immigrant families to
"achieve their American dreams."
The June 19 letter says Senate bill 1348 "fails to achieve" any of
the goals advocated by the church and other proponents 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.
The massive compromise immigration bill collapsed in the Senate June 7
but was resurrected within two weeks and is scheduled to come up for a
key vote before the end of June.
"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
Referred to as a "grand bargain," the bipartisan agreement—with 108
amendments—had stalled amid controversy, particularly over provisions
envisioning eventual citizenship for the estimated 12 million immigrants
now in the United States illegally. The bill, which is supported by the
Bush administration, also calls for greater border security and a
crackdown on the hiring of illegal workers.
Faith organizations had rallied behind amendments that supported
immigrant families. When those amendments failed, the "Senate rejected
the importance of family values," the letter states.
"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."
The letter is signed by the chief executives or other officers of the
United Methodist Board of Church and Society, Board of Global
Ministries, Women’s Division of Global Ministries, General Commission on
Religion and Race, National Plan for Hispanic/Latino Ministry,
Methodists Associated to Represent the Cause of Hispanic Americans, and
National Federation of Asian American United Methodists.
The letter states the current bill includes "burdensome obstacles"
that include unreasonable fees and fines as well as mandatory return
trips to home countries before a pathway to citizenship can be granted.
In addition, the United Methodist letter spoke out against the
proposed guest-worker program, saying it does not guarantee "an increase
in the number of visas for future workers with full labor protections
and just wages."
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."
"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,"
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
Signers of the letter include Jim Winkler, top executive, United
Methodist Board of Church and Society; Bishop Joel N. Martinez,
president, and the Rev. R. Randy Day, top executive, Board of Global
Ministries; Lois M. Dauway, interim top executive Women's Division,
Board of Global Ministries; Eliezer Valentin-Castanon, staff, Commission
of Religion and Race; Bishop Minerva Carcaño, chair, and Francisco
Cañas, national coordinator, National Plan for Hispanic/Latino Ministry;
Bishop Elias Galván, executive director, Methodists Associated to
Represent the Cause of Hispanic Americans; the Rev. Mark M. Nakagawa,
chair, and Inday Day, executive director, National Federation of Asian
American United Methodists.
News media contact: Kathy L. Gilbert, Nashville, Tenn., (615) 742-5470 or email@example.com.
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United Methodist Board of Church and Society
United Methodist Board of Global Ministries
Women's Division, Board of Global Ministries
Commission on Religion and Race