The momentum for immigration reform is building across the country, but leaders in Washington are often the last to realize the seismic shifts taking place. The most recent example is when Alabama Sen. Jeff Sessions made the claim that there is no “moral or legal responsibility to reward somebody who entered the country [without documentation].”
No moral responsibility? Many Christians believe otherwise.
The Evangelical Immigration Table recently made headlines by encouraging lawmakers to include a roadmap to citizenship within an overall framework for immigration reform. As Jim Wallis, the President and CEO of Sojourners, states “[evangelical leaders] don't believe there are second-class images of God, and therefore we don't believe in a second-class status for people who are willing to follow an earned path to citizenship."
Sen. Sessions is at odds with both the moral demands of Christian faith and, increasingly, with the thinking of his own party. Creating a roadmap to citizenship will include fines and penalties for immigrants without documentation status. This is not about offering a “reward.” It is about increasing opportunities for our brothers and sisters who have been contributing to the strength of our communities for decades.
The faith community cannot let statements like these go unchallenged. We must speak up and encourage our elected officials to create an immigration system that reflects the values of our society.
Janelle Tupper is Campaigns Assistant for Sojourners.