Millions of American families have been waiting and working for comprehensive immigration reform for a generation, and with the latest news out of Washington, DC it appears that they may be forced to wait much longer. It’s unconscionable how both Republicans and Democrats have played politics with immigrants’ lives for so long, with no end in sight. This spring, the headlines are stuck on repeat as the House of Representatives leadership continues to block any vote on meaningful immigration legislation while the Obama Administration continues to deport record numbers of immigrants.
Despite the partisan gridlock, everyday folks have put their lives on the line by sending letters, signing petitions, praying in vigils, marching across the country, fasting for days on end, and participating in civil disobedience outside the White House.
Here at the North Carolina Council of Churches, I’ve had the distinct privilege of working alongside immigrant families, faith leaders, lay activists, and immigrant rights organizations across the state in pursuit of humane fixes to our broken immigration system. While my time at the Council is drawing to a close, I know that immigration reform for our country is not a matter of if, it’s when. How long will we let political games take precedence over real human suffering? I believe that in 20 or 30 years issues that seem controversial today – like whether immigrants deserve human rights, due process, and the chance to become a part of society – will be obvious.
There are many complex facets to immigration policy, but it’s obvious to faith leaders and faith traditions across the spectrum that families should be allowed to stay together. It’s obvious that communities are better off when everyone has the chance to contribute instead of being forced to live in the shadows. It’s obvious that immigration reform is the right thing to do, for Jesus said that when we welcome foreigners, we welcome him.
I wonder if younger generations will look back at our gratuitous militarization of the border and our national obsession for “the rule of law” (when it comes to immigrants) the way that we look back at the Japanese internment camps of World War II or the Jim Crow-era South. I wonder what we will tell our children and grandchildren about the 1,100 immigrant families that are ripped apart by deportation every day. It is not enough simply to be informed; now is the time to act. Time is short. Lives are on the line.
Will you join me, the North Carolina Council of Churches, and many friends and allies in sending letters, signing petitions, praying and fasting and marching, holding the course until our vision of the beloved community bubbles up and over and rolls down like waters?