|Faith leaders back immigration bill|
A UMNS Report
By Kathy L. Gilbert*
May 27, 2009
The United Methodist Church’s social justice agency supports legislation that would reunite more than 300,000 legal immigrants with their families.
The bill introduced May 20 by Democratic Sens. Robert Menendez, Kirsten Gillibrand, Edward Kennedy and Charles Schumer is designed to increase immigration eligibility and speed up a process that can take a decade or more.
“The Reuniting Families Act is a crucial and necessary part of comprehensive immigration reform that all people of faith can and should support as a way to honor and uphold the value of families,” said Bill Mefford, executive with the United Methodist Board of Church and Society.
“Families are the bedrock of healthy societies and Scripture powerfully illustrates the significance God places on the family to care for individuals,” he said. “Immigrant families in the United States are currently suffering from indiscriminate raids, indefinite detention, and lengthy periods of separation due to an enormous backlog of family visas. All of these symptoms are part of a broken immigration system that has failed immigrant families.”
The immigration system has not been updated for nearly 20 years, the senators said in introducing the bill. The proposed legislation will promote legal immigration and reduce pressure on family members to migrate outside of the legal system, they said.
In particular, the act would:
- Address the decades-long backlogs by raising the per-country immigration limits from 7 percent to 10 percent of total admissions.
- Protect widows, widowers and orphans by allowing them to continue to be eligible for a visa after the death of the sponsoring relative.
- Use an estimated 400,000 family-sponsored and employment-based visas that went unused between 1992 and 2007.
The Interfaith Immigration Coalition will hold a telephone conference on June 1 calling for faith committees to support the act. The Board of Church and Society will participate in the call.
The church board advocates for comprehensive immigration reform legislation that will provide a path to citizenship, protect workers, reunite families, restore the rule of law and enhance security.
*Gilbert is a news writer for United Methodist News Service in Nashville, Tenn.
News media contact: Kathy L. Gilbert, Nashville, Tenn., (615) 742-5470 or email@example.com.
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