|Faith leaders back immigration bill|
A UMNS Report
By Kathy L. Gilbert*
May 27, 2009
The United Methodist Church’s social justice agency supports
legislation that would reunite more than 300,000 legal immigrants with
The bill introduced May 20 by Democratic Sens. Robert
Menendez, Kristen Gillibrand, Edward Kennedy and Charles Schumer is
designed to increase immigration eligibility and speed up a process
that can take a decade or more.
“The Reuniting Families Act is a crucial and necessary part of
comprehensive immigration reform that all people of faith can and
should support as a way to honor and uphold the value of families,”
said Bill Mefford, executive with the United Methodist Board of Church
“Families are the bedrock of healthy societies and Scripture
powerfully illustrates the significance God places on the family to
care for individuals,” he said. “Immigrant families in the United
States are currently suffering from indiscriminate raids, indefinite
detention, and lengthy periods of separation due to an enormous backlog
of family visas. All of these symptoms are part of a broken immigration
system that has failed immigrant families.”
The immigration system has not been updated for nearly 20
years, the senators said in introducing the bill. The proposed
legislation will promote legal immigration and reduce pressure on
family members to migrate outside of the legal system, they said.
In particular, the act would:
- Address the decades-long backlogs by raising the
per-country immigration limits from 7 percent to 10 percent of total
- Protect widows, widowers and orphans by
allowing them to continue to be eligible for a visa after the death of
the sponsoring relative.
- Use an estimated 400,000 family-sponsored and employment-based visas that went unused between 1992 and 2007.
The Interfaith Immigration Coalition will hold a telephone
conference on June 1 calling for faith committees to support the act.
The Board of Church and Society will participate in the call.
The church board advocates for comprehensive immigration reform
legislation that will provide a path to citizenship, protect workers,
reunite families, restore the rule of law and enhance security.
*Gilbert is a news writer for United Methodist News Service in Nashville, Tenn.
News media contact: Kathy L. Gilbert, Nashville, Tenn., (615) 742-5470 or email@example.com.
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