We call on the Obama Administration to seize the moment to champion legislative reform of our broken immigration system, and to promote immigrant integration and reduce harmful enforcement practices through administrative actions.
For years, the Washington New Sanctuary Movement (WANSM) has been working with many congregations, service providers, and faith leaders across the Washington state to educate communities, oppose anti-immigrant legislation, and work toward humane immigration reform.
In the past four years, the WANSM network has organized prayer vigils, and community forums across the state in support of immigrants’ rights. As an interfaith coalition, we see this as an opportunity to raise a wide array of concerns and issues that should be considered as the President and Congress move forward with fixing our nation’s broken immigration system.
The WANSM calls on the Administration to use all its resources, contacts, and the political capital necessary to ensure that Congress enacts legislation to:
· Address the Causes of Migration
· Keep Families Together
· Moratorium on Deportation
· Place Humanitarian Values at the Center of Enforcement Policies
· Effective and humane border security that recognizes the human rights and dignity of all people
· Protect Refugees and Migrant Survivors of Violence
· Enact the Development, Relief, and Education for Alien Minors (DREAM) Act
· Protect Workers’ Rights, Including Agricultural Workers
· End Secure Communities and 287(g) Agreements
· Increase Opposition to Anti-Immigrant State Policies
· Create a Process for Undocumented Immigrants to Earn Citizenship
Promote Community Safety, Immigrant Integration and Family Unity Through Administrative Action
· Utilize Prosecutorial Discretion and Restore Due Process
· Expand Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA)
· Finalize the Proposed Rule on Provisional Unlawful Presence Waivers
· Reform Immigration Detention and Prioritize Alternatives to Detention
· Prioritize Funding to Promote Immigrant Integration
· Creating a temporary worker program with wage and worker protection
The 78 Sisters of St. Joseph of Carondelet who are delegates to the Los Angeles Province Chapter (governing body) express our solidarity with and support of our brothers and sisters who are immigrants and migrants.
Compelled by the Scriptures, the signs of the times, our historical documents and church leadership we call upon the President and Congress to urgently pass just and comprehensive immigration reform that will include reunification of families and a path to citizenship for those living in the United States who have not been convicted of criminal acts.
Provisions that we believe must be included are:
Until this is accomplished we call upon states either to not pass or to repeal restrictive laws that attempt to supersede the federal government’s authority to regulate immigration. In particular, we call for an end to state legislation that criminalizes undocumented persons, denies them basic human services and creates a climate of fear among immigrants.
We commit to continue to educate ourselves and others, to advocate for just laws, to care for immigrants and migrants and to pray that all enjoy basic human rights and live in their God-given human dignity.
King County Executive Dow Constantine
King County Chinook Building
401 5th Ave. Suite 800
Seattle, WA 98104
King County Prosecutor Dan Satterberg
King County Courthouse, Room W554
516 Third Avenue
Seattle, WA 98104
Dear County Executive Constantine and County Prosecutor Satterberg,
We, the undersigned members of the King County faith community, write to express our concerns with the county’s current immigration detainer (or “immigration hold”) policy, and urge your support for reforms to King County’s policy of honoring all voluntary hold requests from Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE).
The faith community in King County reflects the diversity of its residents and while it encompasses many faith traditions, we are united in supporting policies that promote our county’s goal of creating “the beloved community.” We believe that the policies of our county should be a reflection of our values and, as such, should promote and reinforce fundamental human and civil rights. In the area of immigration, we have been pleased to see the county take a number of steps that recognize these rights and values, from emphasis on the equity and social justice initiative and its fundamental principles of fairness and justice, to public policies that create welcoming and dynamic communities.
Many members of the faith community stood in support of one such policy when the King County Council passed Ordinance 2009-0393 in 2009, which sought to ensure local law enforcement in King County did not inquire about the immigration status of residents. We supported this policy because we felt it was important to create an environment in King County where all residents feel protected and secure in reporting crimes and working with law enforcement to ensure public safety for all. We believed then, and continue to believe, that the county needs to maintain the strong distinction between the job and responsibilities of local law enforcement and those of federal immigration enforcement. While Ordinance 2009-0393 was a significant step toward creating this distinction, we are concerned that the county’s current policy—particularly with the recent announcement that the troubled “Secure Communities” ICE enforcement program is now mandatory—undermines the goal of the ordinance. We cannot have welcoming and dynamic communities when people live in fear.
It is our understanding that the King County Jail currently honors all voluntary ICE immigration hold requests. These holds are not mandatory for the county to honor, as there is no mandated legal requirement imposed by Congress for local law enforcement to honor these voluntary ICE hold requests. The current County Jail practice grants all voluntary detainer requests by ICE, regardless of whether a non-citizen defendant has been convicted of a crime and regardless of the offense for which they have been charged. The result of granting these voluntary detainer requests is the deportation of many immigrants in King County with no criminal conviction or low-level offenses. These deportations occur without consideration of the consequences on the children, families, and communities left behind. They are antithetical to the values of justice and fairness.
Permitting voluntary ICE hold requests to be used as a tool for immigration enforcement against all non-citizens, regardless of whether they have been convicted of a crime and regardless of the severity of their convictions, negatively impacts immigrant communities’ willingness to cooperate with law enforcement and seek protections from our criminal justice system, which impacts the public safety of all of our communities. We have seen increasing concern among community members who continue to see instances in which a loved one is picked up on the street for a minor offense, ends up in jail, and quickly finds himself or herself in immigration detention, which in the vast majority of instances leads to deportation without legal representation. This chain of events—starting with the county’s current detainer policy—threatens the most important law enforcement resource we have in the county: community trust.
Recently, other counties, including Cook County in Illinois and Santa Clara County in California, have passed legislation preventing their county jails from honoring voluntary ICE hold requests. In King County, we believe the county must limit participation in ICE immigration enforcement activities and ensure the safety of all our communities by reforming its current policy on voluntary immigration holds. We believe that this can be accomplished by implementing a policy that has been shared with your offices by members of the Washington Immigrant Rights Coalition, which honors voluntary ICE hold requests only for those currently or previously convicted of the most serious offenses. This new policy will improve public safety while honoring the goals of the county’s previous ordinance and the values we embrace.
We urge you to implement this policy change as quickly as practicable to ensure that we maintain community trust and do not lose the community’s faith in our commitment to justice, fairness, and equity.
Rev. Paul Benz, Co-Director, Faith Action Network
Bishop Wm. Chris Boerger, Northwest Washington Synod of the
Evangelical Lutheran Church in America
Rev. Michael Denton, Conference Minister, Pacific Northwest Conference
of the United Church of Christ
Bishop Grant Hagiya, Pacific Northwest Conference of the
United Methodist Church
Rev. Janine Larsen, District Executive, Pacific Northwest District of the Unitarian Universalist Association
Rev. Sandy Messick, Regional Minister & President, Northwest Region
of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ)
Ms. Jackie O’Ryan, Co-Director, Faith Action Network
Rev. Dr. Marcia Patton, Executive Minister, Evergreen Association of American Baptist Churches
Mr. Michael Ramos, Executive Director, Church Council of Greater Seattle
The Rt. Rev. Greg Rickel, Bishop, Diocese of Olympia, The Episcopal Church in Western Washington
Mr. Jafar Siddiqui, American Muslims of Puget Sound
Rabbi Zari Weiss, President, Washington Coalition of Rabbis
Washington New Sanctuary Movement
As people of faith and good will, clergy and leaders who are immigrants and walk with immigrants on a daily basis, we raise an outcry of concern and opposition to the Department of Homeland Security’s announcement of the mandatory implementation of the “Secure Communities” program in every state and jurisdiction in the United States. This program calls for the sending of fingerprints of those arrested by local authorities to two databases with the purported goal to identify those who have committed crimes in order to expedite their deportation. In practice, this program has led to the “rooting out” of many tens of thousands of immigrants across our land who work hard, pay taxes and raise families, with no intention other than seeking a sufficient, sustainable livelihood as contributors to the economic and social fabric of our country. As such, the extension of “Secure Communities” while abrogating the process of establishing Memoranda of Agreement with local jurisdictions and the eliminating the opportunity to “opt out” is a flawed and damaging policy that will lead to the further violation of human rights and the undermining of human dignity. We denounce this policy that was set with neither review nor public debate and we call on the Obama Administration to put an end to such practices that run contrary to the values on which our country was founded.
Along with the 287 (g) program deputizing local law enforcement to carry out immigration enforcement, Secure Communities blurs the lines between the federal administration of immigration policy and the assumption by local authorities for implementing immigration mandates without proper training or oversight. The net effect is a diminishing of public safety, including from the point of view of many local law enforcement authorities, and the criminalizing and dehumanization of people perceived to be “other” based on perceived immigration status.
As Amnesty International has stated, “Secure Communities can undermine community safety by terrorizing immigrant communities whose members will refrain from reporting crimes due to fear of deportation; will minimize cooperation with law enforcement; and will retreat further into the shadows, thereby becoming more vulnerable to exploitation by employers and more susceptible to crime.”
Our religious traditions see each and every human being as a child of God with fundamental human dignity and with whom we are called to be neighbor. Accompanying those who leave or flee their countries of origin due to poverty, violence, repression and the restoration of family is part of our heritage and practice as enumerated in our sacred scriptures and basic teachings. In a word, as noted by our Unitarian Universalist brothers and sisters, it is our sacred duty to “Stand on the Side of Love” for all of God’s people, especially those labeled as “other.” All people and immigrants regardless of status are welcomed into our sanctuaries and are worthy of our outreach in a spirit of hospitality and welcome in our country and in our communities. We pledge to continue services and ministries without distinction to all in our midst.
Our faith compels us to act in solidarity with our immigrant communities to promote just policies and practices in the face of evolving enforcement-only practices that have moved from raids to massive detention and deportation. The efforts to build bigger walls on the Southern border in an attempt to prevent further in-migration to the United States does not address the basic, underlying urgency for Comprehensive Immigration Reform. Such a reform, consistent with our teachings and experience, would yield the reuniting of families, the prospects for legalization and fairly compensated work and due process for those who seek a stable and secure future in our nation of immigrants.
We call upon our elected federal officials, including our President, to instruct the Department of Homeland Security to desist from the carrying out of the divisive Secure Communities program. We look forward to assessing the real impact of the Administration’s announcement to review pending deportation cases to ensure that only high-priority situations will be impacted. We are especially hopeful for those who came to the U.S. as children and wish to pursue their education. We thank the grassroots organizations whose efforts were instrumental in leading to this breakthrough. At the same time, we further demand that our Congress lay the foundation “built on solid rock” of a Comprehensive Immigration Reform that recognizes the promise of immigrant families and children, allays fear and suffering, and offers a future full of hope for the prosperity of our society and the integrity of our communities. We anticipate a prompt response from DHS to these concerns echoing an outcry from across the nation. We will continue to act in solidarity with immigrant communities consistent with our commitment to alleviate suffering, remove fear and accompany in fellowship and love.
Washington New Sanctuary Movement
Regardless of your political perspective it is clear that our immigration system in this country is broken. I recognize this is a very emotional topic. I can hear the voices saying that in this time of uncertainty and division in our church and our culture I would do us all a favor by not bringing the subject up. I bring it up not to push a particular point of view which I do have. I bring it up because the status quo is not working.
As we have begun working with immigrant populations in our new ministries the stories of the failure of our current system are increasing. I spent Good Friday evening two years ago with a group of Indonesian Lutherans saying good bye to one of their group who was being deported because an American attorney had missed a hearing on her in-laws’ asylum request.
I have written about how this experience gave new meaning to the Good Friday story. With our global connections in the church we are learning that we have much to learn from other Lutheran Christians from around the world. The ability of this church to engage these important leaders is limited by our maze of immigration issues.
I had the opportunity to tour the Northwest Detention Center in Tacoma. This prison run by a for-profit corporation is where those detained by Immigration and Customs Enforcement are housed. It is an amazing experience to hear how persons about to face deportation are treated and how a private company profits from building prison space on the speculation that they will be filled.
I know of no one who believes that the immigration system as we now have it is working. We need to have the debate about how it should be reformed. It is a political hot potato. I want to encourage you to be involved in this debate. We will have different ideas about how this should be resolved.
I know that. Our silence on the issue is only perpetuating the current confusion. Most of us can still tell stories of our immigrant ancestors. We need to be involved in how the current stories are being created by our new immigrants
The Rev. Wm Chris Boerger, Bishop
Northwest Washington Synod,
Evangelical Lutheran Church in America
The Episcopal Church
Office of Public Affairs
House of Bishops issues Pastoral Letter
along with a Theological Resource*:
“The Nation and the Common Good: Reflections on Immigration Reform”
[September 21, 2010] The House of Bishops of the Episcopal Church, meeting in Phoenix, Arizona, has issued the following Pastoral Letter and Theological Reflection: “The Nation and the Common Good: Reflections on Immigration Reform.”
A Pastoral Letter from the House of Bishops
Phoenix, Arizona, September 21, 2010
There shall be for you and the resident alien a single statute, a perpetual statute throughout your generations; you and the alien shall be alike before the Lord. You and the alien who resides with you shall have the same law and the same ordinance (Numbers 15:15-16).
So [Christ] came and proclaimed peace to you who were far off and peace to those who were near; for through him both of us have access in one Spirit to the Father. So then you are no longer strangers and aliens, but you are citizens with the saints and also members of the household of God (Ephesians 2:17-19).
Dear People of God,
Throughout our meeting in Phoenix, Arizona, we have reflected on the immigration crisis facing our host state, the United States, and all nations globally. A number of us visited the United States-Mexico border and saw first hand the many troubling and complex issues that face migrants, immigrants, the border patrol, local ranchers, and Christian communities seeking to minister to all of these groups. We are also mindful that similar border issues confront other nations represented in The Episcopal Church, especially countries in Europe, the Dominican Republic and Haiti, and Colombia and Ecuador.
Holy Scripture teaches us that all human beings are made in the image of God, and that Jesus Christ gave his life for all people. Furthermore, both the Old and New Testaments declare the importance of hospitality to resident alien and strangers, a hospitality that rests on our common humanity. All human beings are therefore deserving of dignity and respect, as we affirm in our Baptismal Covenant (Book of Common Prayer, p.305). So our gracious welcome of immigrants, documented or undocumented, is a reflection of God’s grace poured out on us and on all. In this light:
(1) Ours is a migratory world in which many people move across borders to escape poverty, hunger, injustice and violence. We categorically reject efforts to criminalize undocumented migrants and immigrants, and deplore the separation of families and the unnecessary incarceration of undocumented workers. Since, as we are convinced, it is natural to seek gainful employment to sustain oneself and one’s family, we cannot agree that the efforts of undocumented workers to feed and shelter their households through honest labor are criminal.
(2) We profess that inhumane policies directed against undocumented persons (raids, separation of families, denial of health services) are intolerable on religious and humanitarian grounds, as is attested by the consensus of a wide range of religious bodies on this matter.
(3) We call on the government of the United States and all governments to create fair and humane immigration policies that honor the dignity of people on all sides of this issue. In the United States, we seek a reasonable path to citizenship for undocumented workers; a plan to reunite families; and a viable system for receiving temporary or seasonal guest-workers, with clearly identified points of entry. These measures would free the United States border patrol to concentrate its efforts on the apprehension of drug traffickers, terrorists, and other criminals, and not on ordinary people who are simply seeking a better life for themselves and their children.
(4) We acknowledge the duty of governments to protect their people, including the securing of borders. The church has always respected this duty, which is grounded in government’s God-given duty to protect innocent people and punish wrongdoers (Romans 13:1-7; 1 Peter 2:13-17).
(5) We recognize that racism and bigotry impact debates over migration and immigration. The Episcopal Church is committed to the eradication of all forms of racism, and decries the use of racial profiling in the arrest of persons suspected of being undocumented.
(6) We confess our own complicit sinfulness as people who benefit from the labor of undocumented workers without recognizing our responsibility to them. We passively tolerate an economic and political system that accepts this labor from millions of undocumented workers, and which has received approximately $520 billion in social security revenue from them--revenue from which they will never benefit. Yet at the same time we treat them as a threat.
(7) We do not discount the concerns of our fellow citizens regarding the danger uncontrolled immigration poses to our safety and economic well-being. We insist, however, that these concerns be approached within the broader context of a national commitment and covenant to inclusion and fellowship across all lines for the sake of the common good.
(8) We take seriously our commitment to and responsibility for our fellow citizens, as we strive to face the spiritual, moral and economic challenges of life in all sixteen nations represented in The Episcopal Church. We call on our fellow citizens to remember that the good of a nation lies beyond its own self-interest, toward a vision of a humanity restored in Jesus Christ, for in him “you who once were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ” (Ephesians 2:13).
(9) We offer for additional study a theological resource, “The Nation and the Common Good: Reflections on Immigration Reform.”
God’s grace be with us all.
His Eminence Theodore Cardinal McCarrick
Archbishop Emeritus of Washington, D.C.
The Senate Subcommittee on Immigration, Refugees, and Border Security
Comprehensive Immigration Reform: Faith-Based Perspectives
Statement on the U.S. Immigration Situation
Council of Bishops
The United Methodist Church
In Scripture we see evidence that God cares for sojourners. In the Old Testament we are reminded that we are to care for the sojourners among us as native born, loving them as we love ourselves, and never oppressing them (Leviticus 19:33). Most telling, God chose to be incarnated as a migrant in Jesus, who as a tender child became a refugee to Africa, and as an adult became an itinerant teacher of good news to all people. Jesus identifies himself with the sojourner in our midst and calls his followers to provide hospitality to the sojourner (Matthew 25:38-40). As we follow Jesus in serving the sojourner, we hear the good news of the gospel incarnated in their stories and in their lives. We believe that welcoming the sojourner is so vital to the expression of Christian faith that to engage in this form of hospitality is to participate in our own salvation.
Throughout the world we experience redemptive liberation through relationships with migrants in our communities. These relationships help us to see that regardless of legal status or nationality, we are all connected through Christ to one another. The Apostle Paul reminds us that when one member suffers, all members suffer as well (1 Corinthians 12:26). The solidarity we share through Christ eliminates the boundaries and barriers which exclude and isolate. The sojourners we are called to love are our brothers and sisters, our mothers and fathers, our sons and daughters; indeed, they are us.
As we serve in communities all across the United States, we are made aware of the daily suffering of immigrants who live and work among us. Our immigrant brothers and sisters suffer greatly due to abuse in the work place, indiscriminate federal raids, and indefinite detention and deportations which tear their families apart. These conditions are exacerbated by a broken immigration system that not only separates families for long and indefinite periods of time, but that ignores the fact that immigrants provide a much needed labor force in the United States and come to this country often encouraged by potential U.S. employers who actively seek their labor.
Consideration of U.S. immigration policy must take into consideration the fact that today many immigrants are forced to leave their homes due to economic and foreign policies of the United States. In addition, the growing militarism along the border with Mexico further aggravates the suffering of immigrants and border communities as it exposes immigrants and communities to greater violence and mistreatment. Because of all of these circumstances immigrants are forced to live in the shadows of society to avoid being exploited thus living lives of constant fear and insecurity.
Our calling as followers of Jesus the Christ is to stand in solidarity with our immigrant neighbors and to advocate for justice on their behalf. The United Methodist Church affirms the inherent dignity, value, and human rights of all immigrants regardless of their legal status. We acknowledge that all nations have the right to secure their borders, but the primary concern for Christians is the welfare of immigrants and communities.
The Council of Bishops of The United Methodist Church is committed to advocate for comprehensive immigration reform that is humane and effective and that upholds the human and civil rights of immigrants. We affirm President Obama for his leadership in moving the immigration agenda to the forefront of public discourse and decision making.
We call upon President Obama and all Congressional leaders to support comprehensive immigration reform that would:
Just and humane immigration reform will put an end to much of the human suffering of our immigrant brothers and sisters, bringing them out of the shadows of society, and integrating them into society in ways that will bring their gifts and hard work to bear as together we strive to build communities of justice.