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ELCA bishops support Obama’s immigration reform announcement

11/21/2014 3:00:00 PM

​     CHICAGO (ELCA) – The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA) Conference of Bishops released a statement Nov. 20 in support of President Obama’s announcement of immigration reform. 
     “The positive role of immigrants in our history, economy and our community is unmistakable. We support this compassionate first step toward reforming an immigration system that is flawed and requires many of our neighbors to live in the shadows in fear,” the statement said.
     The ELCA Conference of Bishops is an advisory body of this church that includes 65 synod bishops, the presiding bishop and secretary. The Rev. Jessica R. Crist, bishop of the ELCA Montana Synod, chairs the conference.
     In their statement, the bishops emphasized the ELCA’s support for comprehensive immigration reform that upholds family unity, respects the God-given dignity of every person and establishes a clear pathway to legal status and citizenship for undocumented immigrants. The 2011 ELCA Churchwide Assembly approved resolutions designed to advocate for comprehensive federal immigration reform and support of the DREAM Act – legislation that provides a path for citizenship for undocumented youth.
     “As people of faith and leaders of the church, we support public policy that protects children, reunites families, and cares for the most vulnerable, regardless of their place of birth,” the statement said.
     “While today’s action addresses a pressing need, it does not provide a path to citizenship, establish policies that prioritize family unity, or create more efficient channels for entry of new migrant workers,” the bishops said. “Our hope is that congress will address these and related issues, including the practice of family detention, which undermines our values as a people of faith and a nation of welcome.”
     The bishops also emphasized the ministries in many ELCA congregations that help provide critical services to migrant populations, spread the word of welcome and advocate for fair and humane immigration reform.
     “Each day in our congregations and in our service to the community, we see the consequences of this broken immigration system: separated families, children returning home to find their parents have been deported, and the exploitation of undocumented workers,” they said.
     “By removing the threat of deportation for many people, we are showing compassion for people who have been here for years, working hard to provide for their families, obeying the law, and contributing to the fabric of our community.”
     “The treatment of immigrants is a core religious value,” the bishops said. “To welcome the stranger is to welcome a child of God. In the New Testament, Jesus tells us to welcome the stranger, for ‘just as you did it to one of the least of these … you did it to me.’ (Matthew 25:40),” the statement said.
     The bishops’ full statement is available at http://download.elca.org/ELCA%20Resource%20Repository/ELCA_Bishops_Statement_on_Immigration_Anouncement.pdf.
     In 2009, the ELCA Church Council adopted “Toward Compassionate, Just and Wise Immigration Reform,” a social policy resolution on immigration. The resource is available at http://download.elca.org/ELCA%20Resource%20Repository/Immigration_ReformSPR09.pdf.
     The ELCA social message on immigration is available at http://www.elca.org/Faith/Faith-and-Society/Social-Messages/Immigration.
  
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About the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America:
The ELCA is one of the largest Christian denominations in the United States, with more than 3.8 million members in nearly 10,000 congregations across the 50 states and in the Caribbean region. Known as the church of “God's work. Our hands,” the ELCA emphasizes the saving grace of God through faith in Jesus Christ, unity among Christians and service in the world. The ELCA's roots are in the writings of the German church reformer, Martin Luther.
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