ELCA NEWS SERVICE
April 25, 2012
ELCA bishop urges Congress to quickly enact U.S. immigration reform
CHICAGO (ELCA) - The Rev. Mark S. Hanson, presiding bishop of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA), joined with other national church leaders in urging members of Congress and President Obama to enact U.S. immigration reform "as soon as possible" in April 24 letters. The leaders wrote that state and local governments have taken measures to fill the void in the absence of one federal immigration system.
"As political candidates debate immigration policy and courts decide about laws, may we continue to witness to our faith by welcoming the new immigrants in our communities and advocating for fair and just immigration reform," said Hanson in an interview.
"At a time when these issues often become divisive, we have a marvelous opportunity to carry out the ministry of reconciliation God entrusts to us," he said.
In the April 24 letters, the church leaders identified what immigration reform should, at the minimum, entail:
+ Reaffirmation of federal authority and responsibility to enact and implement the nation's immigration laws
+ Protection and recognition of family unity as the cornerstone of the U.S. immigration system
+ Establishment of functional legal mechanisms for the entry of immigrant workers
+ Creation of a sound, equitable process toward citizenship for currently undocumented immigrants who want to embrace the responsibilities and privileges of becoming a U.S. citizen
+ Assurance that U.S. laws are enforced in ways that recognize the importance of due process, the sanctity of the human person, the incomparable value of family and the integrity of borders.
As the U.S. Supreme Court began proceedings April 25 on the case of Arizona v. the United States, the church leaders urge Congress to reassert their authority "and move to enact immigration reform legislation."
"We are witnessing an unprecedented transfer of authority for immigration policy from the federal government to state and local governments, to the detriment of our nation and our local communities," stated the letter.
"We now have many states and an untold number of localities attempting to create their own immigration policies. This only will lead to a patchwork of laws which would cause family separation, economic disruption and divided communities," the letter said.
The ELCA and Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Service prepared a "Statement of Interest" to serve as part of a brief submitted to the Supreme Court by the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops. The brief was filed as voluntary information in the case of Arizona v. the United States.
The ELCA has a long-standing commitment to social justice for people living in the United States undocumented. The 2011 ELCA Churchwide Assembly approved a resolution that calls this church, in partnership with Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Service, to continue to advocate for comprehensive U.S. immigration reform and against "harmful laws" such as Arizona's SB1070, according to the Statement of Interest.
Based in Baltimore, the Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Service is one of the United States' leading agencies in welcoming and advocating for refugees and immigrants. The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops approached the ELCA and the Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Service to participate in the brief.
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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 4.2 million members in 10,000 congregations across the 50 states and in the Caribbean region. Members of the ELCA believe that they are freed in Christ to serve and love their neighbor. With their hands, they do God's work of restoring and reconciling communities in Jesus' name throughout the world. The ELCA's roots are in the writings of the German church reformer, Martin Luther.
For information contact:
Melissa Ramirez Cooper
773-380-2956 or Melissa.RamirezCooper@ELCA.org
Living Lutheran: http://www.livinglutheran.com