The United States is a nation of immigrants. For centuries, aspiring Americans have traveled through our ports and borders to build a better life for themselves and their children. The pluralistic society that has resulted is one of our country’s greatest sources of strength. As faith and community leaders in central Indiana, we stand together in urging our Members of Congress to act now to fix our country’s broken immigration system.
There are currently an estimated 11 million undocumented immigrants living and working in the United States without legal status. Relegated to living in the shadows, these individuals are vulnerable to harassment and exploitation. The current status quo is devastating families, damaging communities, and threatening the moral fabric of our country. The deportation of 95,000 parents of U.S. citizen children from October 2011 to September 2012 is inconsistent with American values, and is a stain on our national conscience.
Throughout Indiana, our churches, synagogues, temples, and mosques have opened their arms and their hearts to help immigrants start a new life. As the faith community, we will continue to embrace refugees who have experienced unspeakable hardship, violence, and oppression. In return, these new neighbors have become vibrant participants in – and contributors to – our houses of worship, schools, and communities, embracing the Hoosier traditions of hard work, family unity, and faith values.
We are called to action due to the moral imperative before us. Our faith demands of us concern for the stranger in our midst: “When strangers sojourn with you in your land, you shall not do them wrong. The strangers who sojourn with you shall be to you as the natives among you, and you shall love them as yourself; for you were strangers in the land of Egypt” [Leviticus 19:33-34]. We are commanded to speak out in support of a just, humane, and compassionate immigration system, and we are proud to come together with people of all faiths, from across the political spectrum, to support our Members of Congress as they take the bold and necessary steps to bring our country’s moral thread in line with our immigration laws.
We therefore applaud the bipartisan effort that has brought a bill to the Senate Floor that will increase border security, reform our immigration system, and offer a just path to citizenship. This bill will improve protections for refugee families, unaccompanied children, stateless persons, and those who have worked alongside our troops in Iraq and Afghanistan.
Like the many aspiring citizens who for years have held on to hope for a better life, we too stand in hope that Senator Coats and Senator Donnelly will help realize the promise of our nation by supporting the Border Security, Economic Opportunity and Immigration Modernization Act. Seizing this historic opportunity will strengthen our economy and meet our biblical obligation to remember that we were strangers too. Please, join us in making the call (literally!) to Senator Coats and Senator Donnelly: tell them that now is the time to enact comprehensive immigration reform.
Matthew Myer Boulton, Christian Theological Seminary, President
Bishop Michael J. Coyner, Indiana Area of The United Methodist Church
Rev. C. L. Day, The Concerned Clergy of Indianapolis, President
Bishop Timothy Doherty, Bishop Diocese of Lafayette in Indiana
Mel Jolliff, Indiana Interchurch Center, Executive Director
Azher Khan, Muslim Alliance of Indiana, Board President
Rabbi Brett Krichiver, Indianapolis Hebrew Congregation, Senior Rabbi
Rev. Dr. Felipe N. Martinez, Associate Executive Presbyter, Whitewater Valley Presbytery
Rev. Carol McDonald, Executive Presbyter of the Synod of Lincoln Trails, Presbyterian Church (USA)
Carleen Miller, Exodus Refugee Immigration, Executive Director
Lindsey B. Mintz, Jewish Community Relations Council, Executive Director
Dr. Dennis C. Sasso, Senior Rabbi, Congregation Beth-El Zedeck
Dr. Sandy Eisenberg Sasso, Rabbi Emerita, Congregation Beth-El Zedeck
Imam Michael Saahir, Nur-Allah Islamic Center, Resident Imam
Glenn Tebbe, Executive Director, Indiana Catholic Conference
Rev. T. Alan Thames, Executive Presbyter of the Presbytery of Whitewater Valley, Presbyterian Church (USA)
Archbishop Joseph Tobin C.Ss.R., Archdiocese of Indianapolis
Rev. Dr. Angelique Walker-Smith, The Church Federation of Greater Indianapolis, Executive Director
Bishop Catherine Waynick, Episcopal Diocese of Indianapolis