As we celebrate our freedom and the great gifts of liberty we experience in our country, we divide on issues of immigration reform. The Executive Council of the Episcopal Church discussed this issue at the June meeting and passed the following resolution (not the final wording but quoted from the Episcopal News Service):
(A&N/WM001) Reaffirm Episcopal Church commitment…
to comprehensive immigration reform with a pathway to citizenship as a primary solution to the plight of undocumented immigrants who have established roots in the United States as members of our communities and as substantive social, economic, and spiritual contributors to our nation;
to proportional and humane immigration enforcement policies; deplore unprecedented levels of detention and deportation carried out by the [federal] Administration against individuals who pose no threat to society such as individuals who have committed reentry violations, traffic related offenses, minor criminal offenses, and actions that are retroactively considered deportable offenses, and individuals with U.S. citizen or Lawful Permanent Resident status, spouses, or parents;
to urge the Administration to provide for timely and readily available access to the child welfare system for detained parents, so that they have real and appropriate opportunities to make informed decisions on behalf of their children and families, increased use of alternatives to detention for those who pose no threat, elimination of detention bed mandate, which requires the federal government to detain 34,000 immigrants on a daily basis and encourages the use of detention over more humane and cost-effective alternatives;
to urge that, when deportations do occur, individuals be repatriated in a safe and humane manner with their belongings, during daylight hours, to secure locations, with appropriate facilities for women and children; and that, when multiple members of a family are deported, they are not needlessly separated or returned to different ports of entry from one another;
to urge all Episcopalians to advocate and pray for humane comprehensive immigration reform so that immigrants, their families, and their communities may know peace, safety, and respect for the dignity of all people.
Last October, our Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori spoke at the Church World Summit on Immigration. You can find her comments here – http://episcopaldigitalnetwork.com/ens/2013/10/09/19553/
I know this is one of those “hot button” issues which can serve to divide us rather than bring us together yet our Baptismal Covenant calls us to “seek and serve Christ in all persons, loving our neighbor as ourselves,” and to “strive for justice and peace for all people and respect the dignity of every human being.” So I ask: Is your/my opinion on immigration reform consistent with these promises we made?
Let us pray –
“For I was a stranger and you welcomed me.”
Mt. 25: 35
God, you who always journey with us,
and especially with our most vulnerable sisters and brothers,
we pray for those who have come to our land
in search of security and work,
in search of a better life for themselves and their families:
Grant them acceptance, respect, and a path to citizenship.
Spirit of Wisdom, give our leaders the courage to act with compassion. We ask this in the names of Jesus and Mary.
Adapted from The School Sisters of Notre Dame, Atlantic-Midwest Province
We’ll take up this issue again in the future so stay tuned…
~Judith Schellhammer, chair, Resolution Review Committee, Diocesan Council