Disciples News Service

Watkins joins faith leaders expressing disappointment in House actions

National religious leaders speak out against House anti-immigrant vote

 by Sidney Traynham, CWS Global

WASHINGTON—National faith leaders have mobilized together to oppose the anti-immigrant vote passing the Department of Homeland Security Appropriations Act for 2015 in the U.S. House of Representatives.

Rev. John L. McCullough, President and CEO, Church World Service: “This vote is a clear and present danger to our nation’s conscience and to victims of trafficking, unaccompanied children, DREAMers and undocumented parents of US citizens. In this new year, House Republican leaders had an opportunity to start fresh and place people over politics. Instead, their first moves were to scrap years of progress and victories for immigrant families. This is a moral outrage as millions threatened with deportation were just starting to breathe a sigh of relief. As this legislation moves to the Senate, we pray for all Senators – particularly Majority Leader Mitch McConnell – and urge them to stand firmly with America’s history as a beacon of hope, safe refuge and freedom.”

Rev. Sharon Watkins, General Minister and President, Christian Church (Disciples of Christ): “As a believer bound through God’s covenant of love to one another and to seek justice for the vulnerable, I am disheartened by today’s amendment votes which threaten to remove humanitarian and anti-trafficking safeguards for children, asylees, and others seeking safety, family unity, and hope. As one committed to seek wholeness and Justice for the weak, I am concerned that DREAMers and victims of domestic violence could be put at risk of deportation through the amendments just approved. Our ministries continue to advocate for immigration reform legislation that is just, humane, and compassionate, and for protections that will help families in our faith community contribute as taxpayers and leaders without fear.”

Sister Simone Campbell, executive director, NETWORK, A National Catholic Social Justice Lobby: “It is outrageous that the 114th Congress chooses to focus its first immigration vote on something as destructive to the basic spirit of our country as this legislation. Not only does it strip protections from immigrants helped by the president’s executive action, but it also targets “Dreamers,” immigrant children who have grown up in the U.S., along with refugee children from Central America. Seeking to harm children and contributing members of our communities is not an American value, and Congress should be ashamed.”

The Most Rev. Katharine Jefferts Schori, Presiding Bishop and Primate, The Episcopal Church: I give thanks for President Obama’s announcement that nearly five million undocumented immigrants will soon be eligible for relief from the threat of deportation. Too many families have lived for too long continually worried about parents being separated from children, wage-earners and caregivers from those who depend on them, and unable to participate fully in their communities and the nation’s economy.  Permanent and comprehensive reform of our broken immigration system through congressional action is still urgently needed, but the President’s action is a constructive step toward a system that honors the dignity and intrinsic value of every human being. (Signed by 100 Episcopal Bishops, see http://www.episcopalchurch.org/notice/presiding-bishop-episcopal-bishops-offer-support-presidents-immigration-executive-action)

Mark Hetfield, President & CEO, HIAS: “The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Appropriations bill is being hijacked by members of Congress who have been derelict in their duty to repair the nation’s broken immigration system. The President issued the Immigrant Accountability Executive Action only after waiting six years for Congress to present him with legislation to improve efficiency, humanity, and security in our country’s broken immigration system… Instead of fulfilling the shared American and Jewish value of treating the stranger as yourself, Congress’ only solution has been to push twelve million people living among us even deeper into the shadows. It is too bad the new Congress does not have a new approach to immigration—this country deserves a strong and secure system that treats all refugees, asylum seekers, and immigrants with dignity.”

Nancy K. Kaufman, CEO, National Council of Jewish Women: “The amendments to the appropriations bill for the Department of Homeland Security that would revoke protections against detention and deportation extended by President Obama strike a blow against progress toward permanent immigration reform, and endanger millions of hard-working immigrant families. Not only would the amendments reverse the deferred deportation of children brought to the US, they would also end the President’s ability to set enforcement priorities, resulting in random and arbitrary removal of individuals who have deep ties to the US or who have been the victims of domestic abuse… We urge the Senate to remove these provisions from the Homeland Security bill and instead return, with the House, to the difficult task of determining the fate of 11 million immigrants who need to become fully integrated into the American legal system.”

Sister Patricia McDermott, RSM, President, Sisters of Mercy of the Americas: “I am deeply troubled that the House of Representatives continues to advance legislation designed to rip families apart, instead of voting on comprehensive immigration reform. The amendments that passed today call for deporting parents and DREAMers, thus perpetuating the suffering caused by our broken immigration system.”

Rabbi Steve Gutow, President, Jewish Council for Public Affairs: “While this legislation passed in the House, it is unlikely to be approved by the Senate or signed by the President, therefore delaying the guarantee of needed funds for critical homeland security programs. Rather than continuing down this route, we urge Congress to come together to pass lasting immigration reform. We are an immigration nation and must be steadfast in our efforts to fix our broken immigration system. In the last Congress, the Senate approved a bipartisan immigration reform bill.  That bill should serve as a model for Congress today, both in substance and in how members of both political parties came together to address a pressing national issue. Jewish tradition teaches us to love the stranger, to welcome all into the fold and work towards building a better world together. We must remember these teachings and our history as the Jewish people, as wanderers in the land of Egypt and immigrants to the United States, as we secure a brighter future for all those who wish to call our nation home.”

Rev. Linda Jaramillo, Executive Minister, United Church of Christ Justice and Witness Ministry: “The United Church of Christ is committed to supporting immigrant families in their quest for just immigration policies. Last year, we fully supported the executive action to provide relief from deportations for as many as five million undocumented people. We are deeply disappointed and troubled by the short-sighted and mean-spirited action of the House of Representatives which disregards the core values of our faith traditions to love our neighbor and welcome the stranger. The attempt to outlaw deferred action for parents and children sets a dangerous trend and we will stand strong in opposition to any attempts to rollback just administrative relief measures. Our journey toward justice will continue as we accompany our immigrant neighbors in their yearning to keep their families together.”

Ann Scholz, SSND, Associate Director for Social Mission, Leadership Conference of Women Religious: The Leadership Conference of Women Religious is deeply disappointed that the U.S. House of Representatives has chosen to pass truly harmful amendments to H.R. 240, the Fiscal Year 2015 Homeland Security Appropriations bill.  The provisions in these amendments would have devastating effects on members of our communities including the DREAMers we teach and the immigrant families we serve.