ELCA bishop urges Congress to quickly enact U.S. immigration reform

Date Thu, 26 Apr 2012 07:58:43 -0500

Title: ELCA bishop urges Congress to quickly enact U.S. immigration reform

>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
+ 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

"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

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.


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
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>Living Lutheran: http://www.livinglutheran.com