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