Interfaith Statement in Support of Comprehensive Immigration Reform

October 14, 2005

We, the undersigned faith-based leaders and organizations, join together to call upon President Bush and our elected officials in Congress to enact comprehensive immigration reform legislation that establishes a safe and humane immigration system consistent with our values. Our diverse faith traditions teach us to welcome our brothers and sisters with love and compassion.

The Hebrew Bible tells us: "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)." In the New Testament, Jesus tells us to welcome the stranger (cf. Matthew 25:35), for "what you do to the least of my brethren, you do unto me (Matthew 25:40)." The Qur'an tells us that we should “serve God…and do good to…orphans, those in need, neighbors who are near, neighbors who are strangers, the companion by your side, the wayfarer that you meet, [and those who have nothing] (4:36).”

We call for immigration reform because each day in our congregations, service programs, health-care facilities, and schools we witness the human consequences of an outmoded system. We see and hear the suffering of immigrant families who have lost loved ones to death in the desert or immigrants themselves who have experienced exploitation in the workplace or abuse at the hands of unscrupulous smugglers and others. In our view, changes to the U.S. legal immigration system would help put an end to this suffering, which offends the dignity of all human beings.

We call upon our elected officials to enact legislation that includes the following:

· An opportunity for hard-working immigrants who are already contributing to this country to come out of the shadows, regularize their status upon satisfaction of reasonable criteria and, over time, pursue an option to become lawful permanent residents and eventually United States citizens;

· Reforms in our family-based immigration system to significantly reduce waiting times for separated families who currently wait many years to be reunited;

· The creation of legal avenues for workers and their families who wish to migrate to the U.S. to enter our country and work in a safe, legal, and orderly manner with their rights fully protected; and

· Border protection policies that are consistent with humanitarian values and with the need to treat all individuals with respect, while allowing the authorities to carry out the critical task of identifying and preventing entry of terrorists and dangerous criminals, as well as pursuing the legitimate task of implementing American immigration policy.

While we support the right of the government to enforce the law and protect the national security interests of the United States, we recognize that our existing complex and unworkable immigration system has made it nearly impossible for many immigrants – who seek to support their families or reunite with loved ones – to achieve legal status. Reforming the immigration system to address this reality would allow the U.S. government to focus its enforcement efforts on real threats that face all Americans – citizens and immigrants alike.

We urge our elected officials to conduct the immigration reform debate in a civil and respectful manner, mindful not to blame immigrants for our social and economic ills or for the atrocities committed by the few who have carried out acts of terrorism. A polarized process that is lacking in civility would hinder deliberative discourse and not serve the best interests of our nation.

As faith-based leaders and organizations, we call attention to the moral dimensions of public policy and pursue policies that uphold the human dignity of each person, all of whom are made in the image of God. We engage the immigration issue with the goal of fashioning an immigration system that facilitates legal status and family unity in the interest of serving the God-given dignity and rights of every individual. It is our collective prayer that the legislative process will produce a just immigration system of which our nation of immigrants can be proud.

National Organizations:

Anti-Defamation League

American Friends Service Committee (AFSC)

American Jewish Committee

American Jewish Congress

American Society for Muslim Advancement (ASMA)

B’nai B’rith International

Catholic Legal Immigration Network, Inc. (CLINIC)

Church World Service/Immigration and Refugee Program

Columban Justice, Peace and Integrity of Creation Office

Conference of Major Superiors of Men

Episcopal Church USA

Gamaliel National Clergy Caucus Leadership Council

Hebrew Immigrant Aid Society (HIAS)

International Catholic Migration Commission

Irish Apostolate, USA

Islamic Circle of North America

Jesuit Conference

Jesuit Refugee Service/USA

Jewish Council for Public Affairs

Jewish Reconstructionist Federation

Jubilee Campaign USA

Justice for Our Neighbors Immigration Clinic Network

La Ermita - The Hermitage

Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Service

Mennonite Central Committee U.S. Washington Office

Mexican American Cultural Center

Missionary Oblates of Mary Immaculate

National Council of Jewish Women

National Ministries, American Baptist Churches USA

U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops

Union for Reform Judaism

United Jewish Communities

United Methodist Committee on Relief

United States Province of the Priests of the Sacred Heart

Women In Islam, Inc.

Women’s League for Conservative Judaism

World Relief

Local Organizations:

Baltimore Jewish Council

Building Bridges: Hispanic Outreach Project Community of St. Anthony Church in Canton, Ohio

Cabrini Immigrant Services, Dobbs Ferry, New York

Cabrini Immigrant Services, New York, New York

California Province of the Society of Jesus

Capuchin Province of St. Joseph, Detroit, Michigan

Catholic Charities Diocese of Des Moines

Catholic Charities Diocese of San Diego

Catholic Charities Hawaii

Catholic Charities Health and Human Services, Diocese of Cleveland

Catholic Charities Housing Opportunities (CCHO), Youngstown, Ohio

Catholic Charities in the Archdiocese of Santa Fe, New Mexico

Catholic Charities in the Diocese of Paterson, New Jersey

Catholic Charities of the Diocese of Arlington, Virginia

Catholic Charities of Tennessee, Inc.

Catholic Charities of the Archdiocese of Galveston-Houston, Texas

Catholic Charities of the Archdiocese of Washington

Catholic Migration Office of the Diocese of Brooklyn, New York

Catholic Social Services in Anchorage, Alaska

Clerics of St. Viator, Chicago Province

Commonwealth Catholic Charities of the Diocese of Richmond, Virginia

Community Relations Council of the Jewish Federation of San Antonio

Congregation of Holy Cross, Southern Province

Congregation of Our Lady of Victory Missionary Sisters, Huntington, Indiana

Detroit Province of the Society of Jesus

En Camino, Migrant and Immigrant Services, Diocese of Toledo, Ohio

Family Unity & Citizenship Program of the Diocese of Las Cruces

HIAS and Council Migration Services of Philadelphia

Hogar Hispano - Catholic Charities, Falls Church, Virginia

Houston Dominican Sisters

Human Concerns Commission of the Diocese of San Jose

Interfaith Refugee and Immigration Ministries of Illinois

Jewish Community Action, St. Paul, Minnesota

Jewish Community Relations Council of the Jewish Federation of Southern Arizona

Lutheran Children and Family Service of Eastern Pennsylvania

Lutheran Family Services in the Carolinas

Lutheran Social Service of Minnesota

Lutheran Social Services of Michigan

Lutheran Social Services of New England

Lutheran Social Services of Northern New England

Lutheran Social Services of South Dakota

Lutheran Social Services of the National Capital Area

Marianist Province of the United States, St. Louis, Missouri

Metropolitan Council on Jewish Poverty, New York

Migration and Refugee Services Diocese of Trenton, New Jersey

Missionary Sisters of the Immaculate Conception, Province of the Immaculate Conception, Paterson, New Jersey

Missionary Sisters of the Sacred Heart of Jesus, Stella Maris Province, New York, New York

Missionhurst-CICM, Arlington, Virginia

National Catholic Rural Life Conference, Des Moines, Iowa

Northern Indiana Ecumenical Multicultural Ministry (NIEMM), Morocco, Indiana

Organización for Latino Awareness of the Catholic Theological Union in Chicago

Priests of the Sacred Heart (SCJ), Hales Corners, Wisconsin

Provincial Council of the Province of St. John the Baptist of the Order of Friars Minor, Cincinnati, Ohio

River's Edge Community Church, Oella, Maryland

Saints Peter and Paul Church, Savannah, Georgia

Society of Jesus (Jesuits), New York Province

Society of the Divine Word, Chicago Province

St James Faithful Citizenship, Elizabethtown, Kentucky

St James Parish Council, Elizabethtown, Kentucky

St James Parish Social Ministries, Elizabethtown, Kentucky

St. Benedict's Abbey, Benet Lake, Wisconsin

UJA-Federation of New York

Vincentian Center for Church and Society at St. John's University, New York

Washington Buddhist Peace Fellowship (WBPF)

Western Dominican Province, Oakland, California

Wider Church Ministries - United Church of Christ, Cleveland, Ohio

Wisconsin Province of the Society of Jesus

Individual Faith Leaders:

Pamela Beech, Archdiocese of Detroit, Lay Leadership and Formation

Rev. Dr. Stephen P. Bouman, Bishop, Metropolitan New York Synod, Evangelical Lutheran Church in America

Rev. Dr. Clive Calver, Walnut Hill Community Church, Bethel, CT

P. Adem Carroll, 9/11 Relief Director Islamic Circle of North America USA (ICNA Relief)

Patrick Gilger, SJ, Loyola University Chicago

Most Reverend Nicholas DiMarzio, Bishop of Brooklyn

John E. Dister, SJ, Detroit Province Jesuits, Loyola of the Lakes Retreat House

Bob Dunden, SJ, St Benedict the Moor Parish, Omaha, NE

John C. Fickes, Detroit Province of the Society of Jesus

Francis Cardinal George, Archbishop of Chicago

Michael Higgins, C.P., Provincial Superior of Holy Cross Province of the Passionists, Chicago, Illinois

Daniel Idzikowski, Catholic Charities of the Diocese of La Crosse, Inc., La Crosse, Wisconsin

Fr. Michael J. Kavanaugh, Port Wentworth, Georgia

Dr Khurshid Khan, President of the Islamic Circle of North America

Most Reverend Gerald Kicanas, Bishop of Tucson

Clifton Kirkpatrick, Stated Clerk of the General Assembly, Presbyterian Church-USA

Abbot Jerome Kodell, OSB, Subiaco, Arkansas

Reverand John S. Korcsmar, CSC, Austin, Texas

Sister Larraine Lauter OSU, Owensboro, Kentucky

Reverand Msgr. Ronald T. Marino, Brooklyn, New York

Peter Vander Meulen, Office of Social Justice and Hunger Action, Christian Reformed Church

Allan Parker, Pastor, Quitman Church of the Nazarene, Quitman, GA

Sylvia Romero, Hispanic Ministry at Grace United Methodist Church, Olathe, Kansas

Rev. Robert J. Scullin, Provincial, Detroit Province of the Society of Jesus

Most Reverend Carlos Sevilla, S.J., Bishop of Yakima, Washington

Secretary General, Rashid Siddiqui, Islamic Circle of North America

Michael Simone, SJ, Weston Jesuit School of Theology

Fr. Tom Smith, Hispanic Ministry of New Albany, Indiana

Most Reverend Jaime Soto, Auxiliary Bishop of Orange, California

Madonna Della Strada, Jesuit Residence

Most Reverend Thomas G. Wenski, Bishop of Orlando

Professor Elie Wiesel, Boston Unive