A project of the Center for Community Change

Model Op-Ed in Support of Immigration Reform

One of the best ways to advocate for immgiration reform, second only to calling your representatives and senators is submitting an Op-Ed or Letter to the Editor in your local newspapers. Voters make their decisions about immigration reform in their own backyards, based on the insights of their neighbors and friends. We don’t only need to talk to DC- we need to talk to one another. I recently saw this great Op-Ed from two faith leaders in Kansas- check it out and send us the Op-eds and Letters to the Editor.

Don’t know how to write an Op-ed or Letter to the editor? Check out our guide HERE

GOP leaders key to immigration reform

BY THE REVS. GERALD MANSHOLT AND RONALD GILMORE

There is widespread agreement that our immigration system is fundamentally broken and needs comprehensive reform. Immigrant families are forced to wait 10 years or more to see their closest loved ones, because our family visa system is so severely backlogged. Each year, there are more than 500,000 manual labor jobs available that go unfilled by U.S. workers, while our system offers only 5,000 visas to immigrants to fill those jobs.

Indeed, the current system runs counter to family values, our economy’s needs and the common good.

On any given day, our government pays costly rates to detain upward of 28,000 immigrants, including many whose only violation was entering the country illegally or overstaying a visa. Most troubling are the immigration workplace raids occurring across the country that are having a devastating and harmful effect on families and communities.

These problems must be fixed — and they can be.

Last May, the Republican-led Senate passed the Comprehensive Immigration Reform Act — a bipartisan bill that contained the key components for meaningful reform. This year, leaders in the House already have introduced the promising STRIVE bill — Security Through Regularized Immigration and a Vibrant Economy. But at a time when we need immediate action, progress has stalled in the Senate, which has not yet introduced any legislation.

A year ago, Republican Sens. Sam Brownback of Kansas, Arlen Specter of Pennsylvania, Lindsey Graham of South Carolina and John McCain of Arizona provided key leadership in the Senate. We need them to renew their commitment to the issue, because they can bring together leaders from both sides of the aisle to achieve compromise. Brownback, in particular, should not abandon the principled position he held on this important humanitarian issue just last year.

Without leadership from these key Republican senators, comprehensive immigration reform likely will become mired in divisive politics.

For example, in late March and late April when the Senate could not reach agreement on a bill, the White House came up with two proposals catering to more extreme anti-immigrant interests. From our perspective, both President Bush’s first and second plans would hurt families, workers, businesses and our country as a whole.

As Christians, we are challenged to welcome the stranger as we would welcome Jesus. From within our congregations, we witness how immigrants are vital members of our churches, families, schools, businesses, neighborhood associations and broader society. We also see how our leaders’ failure to enact immigration reform has harmed our communities.

Now is the time for congressional leaders to finish the work of passing humane, fair and comprehensive immigration legislation. Now is the time to fix the decades-long family visa backlogs. Now is the time to protect immigrant workers’ rights and enable them to be with their families. Now is the time to secure our nation without resorting to inhumane enforcement practices, like the fear-inducing workplace raids or the jailing of families and children.

As time is running out, we call upon the Senate’s Republican leadership to play their indispensable role in leading this nation toward comprehensive immigration reform.

The Rev. Gerald Mansholt is bishop of the Central States Synod of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America. The Rev. Ronald Gilmore is bishop of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Dodge City.

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