Last weekend, tens of thousands of people marched in support of solutions to our broken immigration system. More than 10,000 gathered in Las Vegas and Seattle, with smaller events in Chicago, Philadelphia, Providence, El Paso, New York, and Lakewood, NJ. These events were fueled by recent momentum from the 200,000-person march on the National Mall in Washington, D.C., which prompted President Obama to reiterate his support for movement on immigration reform this year. The message is loud and clear: we want immigration reform this year, and we're not going anywhere.
With spirits high after such powerful public events and also with a healthy dose of skepticism, many are asking, "what's next?" How can Congress possibly get anything done right now, with a heavy agenda and a ticking clock before midterm elections? I believe we need three things:
- We need to pray. We need to lift up those who live in constant fear of deportation and family separation due to their immigration status. We need to ask God for strength and vision as we advocate in times of economic strife and political gridlock. We must believe when we call upon the God of justice, our prayers will not go unanswered, and that God is able to do "immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine" (Eph. 3:20).
- We need a bill. The only way we can fundamentally change the current state of affairs is by legislative reform. Introducing a bipartisan immigration reform bill in the Senate is the logical next step, and it must be done soon.
- We need a movement. We need to let our lawmakers know that this is an issue that matters to people of faith. You can join the movement by signing our Christians for Comprehensive Immigration Reform petition or by sharing a message of welcome in your church worship service on May 2nd as part of a nationwide "Immigrant Sabbath" weekend.
I hope you can join us in prayer, in advocacy, and in movement-building over these next crucial weeks. Change in our immigration system is not just about the stroke of the president's pen. It is as much about the process as it is about the end result. It's about working together, inside and outside of Washington, to build and shape our nation into a place of welcome, of justice, and a place we can all be proud to call home. And while it might take a while, we can take comfort in the immortal words of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. that "the moral arc of the universe may be long, but it bends toward justice."
Allison Johnson is the campaign coordinator of Christians for Comprehensive Immigration Reform.