comprehensive immigration reform

Catholic Educators Push Immigration Reform That Includes Citizenship

Catholic University of America, L. Kragt Bakker / Shutterstock.com

Catholic University of America, L. Kragt Bakker / Shutterstock.com

As support for immigration reform grows, Catholic college and university presidents from across the country have joined the movement. 

Last Thursday, more than 90 influential presidents released a letter calling on the House to pass comprehensive immigration reform that includes an earned path to citizenship. Taking into account the growing Catholic makeup in Congress, which has reached a historic high, presidents from the University of Notre Dame, Georgetown University, and The Catholic University of America joined the chorus calling for appropriate moral and practical action to take place on the issue. 

5 Reasons Christians Need to Stop Using the Term 'Illegal Immigrant'

2010 protest in Los Angeles, Juan Camilo Bernal / Shutterstock.com

2010 protest in Los Angeles, Juan Camilo Bernal / Shutterstock.com

Editor's Note: In April, Associated Press representatives said they would no longer recommend the term "illegal immigrant" in the influential AP Style Guide used by many in print media. However, the term is still used by many media outlets and in common parlance. Our hope is that more will follow the AP's lead and rethink its usage.

As the Senate recently passed long awaited immigration overhaul and the bill now heads to the House, the long-standing national discourse on the issue of immigration will likely heat up again. As we participate in these discussions, my hope is that we, especially as Christians tasked with peacemaking and reconciling, will find ways to build bridges instead of erecting walls. As a first step in this bridge building, I pray that once and for all, we will stop using the term “illegal immigrant.”

Here's why:

1. The term “illegal immigrant” is a misleading and dishonest term, which violates the 9th commandment.

The term “illegal immigrant” lends one to believe that an individual is currently doing something illegal, or that their presence in our country is an ongoing, illegal act. In regards to undocumented workers, this is simply not the case. The crime that undocumented workers commit is a violation of “8 U.S.C. § 1325: Entry of Alien at improper time or place,” a federal misdemeanor. Their crime is crossing the border at the improper time and place; however, they are not currently doing anything that is illegal.

Therefore, using this term that has a less-than-honest connotation, is a violation of the commandment to not “bear false witness against our neighbors.”

Senate Passes Immigration Overhaul; Top 10 Reasons It Matters

Katie Anderson / Sojourners

Pray4Reform gathering at the Capitol. Katie Anderson / Sojourners

By a 68-32 vote, the Senate just passed S.744, a bipartisan immigration reform bill that people of faith have held up as part of a solution to the United States’ broken immigration system. While it still has to make its way through the House of Representatives, here are the top 10 things that would happen if S. 744 became law:

1.  It would create a roadmap to citizenship for aspiring Americans. 

Current immigration law has no way forward for immigrants who don’t have the right documents. The Senate bill would open doors for them to become full members of society.

2.  It would bring hope to lots of people. 

Around 8 million of the 11.4 million aspiring Americans living in the shadows would be able to gain legal status, giving them hope and opportunity. That’s as many people as live in the entire state of New York – a huge impact.

On Scripture: Fear and Wisdom In The Immigration Debate

Immigration reform rally, Ryan Rodrick Beiler / Shutterstock.com

Immigration reform rally in 2010 in Washington, D.C., Ryan Rodrick Beiler / Shutterstock.com

They have many labels. Undocumented immigrants. Illegal Immigrants. Illegal Aliens. Wetbacks. Jan Brewer, the governor of Arizona, recently suggested that most of them are “drug mules.” Some have even called them “terrorists.” But few are known by their real names or treated as people with real lives.

Most of them live at the edges of the society, under inhumane and dangerous conditions, often separated from their loved ones. For some it may be a choice. However, a vast majority of the 11 million undocumented immigrants in the U.S. are driven to such extremes by factors beyond their control — political crisis, drug-related violence, famine, or eviction from their own homes at gunpoint. Theirs is a story of displacement, of being forced to flee their homes and take risks few would under normal circumstances. They are victims, not the offenders they are often made out to be. Still, for many, it is a story of being treated by the border security as violent criminals, being stripped of their clothes and dignity and separated from their families and traumatized in detention centers. It is also a story of ostracizing and exploitation by parts of the society. The labels and stereotypes about them “otherize” them in ways that prevent their full participation in the society. Injustices like these are the reason why NETWORK’s Nuns On The Bus have been touring across the country speaking out for immigration reform.

Colorado Approves Driver's Licenses for Undocumented Immigrants

Colorado became the eighth U.S. state to grant driver's licenses to undocumented immigrants on Wednesday. Applicants must show they live in Colorado, have filed a state income tax return, and provide proof of their identity from their home country. The Colorado law will go into effect on August 1, 2014, and licenses must be renewed every three years. Reuters reports:

"Our roads will be safer when we can properly identify everyone who drives on them," Democratic state Senator Jessie Ulibarri said. "We estimate that thousands more Colorado drivers will get insured because of this law."

Read more here.

John Boehner Vital to Immigration and the Debt Ceiling

John Boehner's future political aspirations could be a big deciding factor in his stance on immigration and the debt ceiling. If Boehner plans continues as speaker of the House in 2015, he may not be willing to compromise with the White House and Senate on immigration and the debt ceiling. If he plans on retiring, he may want to preserve his legacy by participating in a grand bargain to pass immigration reform and solve America's debt and spending issues. The Washington Post reports:

“Debt ceiling/tax reform/entitlement reform deals are all major legacies for him,” said one longtime Republican House insider. “Retirement may look more appealing if they come together, in some form of victory.”

Read more here.

Nuns on the Bus Back in D.C.

 Janelle Tupper / Sojourners

Sr. Simone Campbell and other 'Nuns on the Bus' greet rally attendees in D.C. Janelle Tupper / Sojourners

The Nuns on the Bus stopped by Washington, D.C., this week, and Sojourners staffers were on hand to return high fives and listen to speeches from the sisters and leaders in the labor movement. This was just one stop on the national bus tour in support of comprehensive immigration reform. The traveling sisters are encouraging people across the country to raise hands and voices in support of faith, family, and citizenship.

Check out the photos of the Nuns on the Bus’ visit. We’ll be praying for the sisters as they continue their journey!

Immigrants Add Billions to Medicare

Researchers at Harvard Medical School found immigrants contributed $115 billion to the Medicare Trust Fund over a seven-year period. In 2009 alone, immigrants contributed $13.9 billion more to Medicare than they used. The report encouraged allowing legal status for undocumented immigrants to help offset health care costs in America. USA Today reports:

"The assumption that immigrants are just a drain has been a part of the argument that people should be denied services," said Leah Zallman, lead researcher and an instructor at Harvard Medical School. "Immigration policy has been closely linked to Medicare's finances."

Read more here.

‘Nuns on the Bus’ Kick Off Immigration Tour

RNS photo by David Gibson

Sister Simone Campbell, head of the social justice lobby Network, in New Jersey Wednesday. RNS photo by David Gibson

With the Statue of Liberty as a backdrop, the “Nuns on the Bus” on Wednesday kicked off a national tour for immigration reform aimed at giving a faith-based push to legislation that’s now hanging in the balance in Congress.

“We have got to make this an urgent message of now,” Sister Simone Campbell, head of the social justice lobby Network, which organized the tour, told a rally on the New Jersey side of the Hudson River.

“The next six to eight weeks is going to determine what we can accomplish,” Campbell said as she pointed to nearby Ellis Island, the American gateway for generations of immigrants. “The time is now for immigration reform.”

Champions of immigration reform believe they have their best opportunity to pass a comprehensive overhaul since 2007, when an effort backed by President George W. Bush was thwarted by members of his own party. After Republicans lost the Latino vote in last fall’s elections, GOP leaders said they would be open to an immigration bill that they think could help change that political dynamic.

Nothing Happens in Washington — Except For This

U.S. Capitol Building, Gary Blakeley / Shutterstock.com

U.S. Capitol Building, Gary Blakeley / Shutterstock.com

What I have heard after visiting 18 cities in six weeks is that people around the country believe that nothing can happen in Washington, D.C. They are basically right. So I am very grateful today to report the one exception.

On Tuesday, the Senate Judiciary Committee approved a new comprehensive immigration reform bill with a bipartisan vote. Did you hear that: “bipartisan.” Amid heartbreaking news of the destruction, grief, and heroism we have seen in Moore, Okla., from one of the worst tornados in American history, millions of Americans found a reason to be hopeful.

This historic immigration bill now goes to the full Senate, where it has a real chance of passing and changing the lives of 11 million aspiring Americans. These are the “strangers” talked about throughout the Bible, and about whom Jesus said, in Matthew 25: how we treat them is how we treat him. That realization has caused a literal biblical conversion in the evangelical Christian community, which with the help of law enforcement officials and business leaders has done the impossible — changed Washington, D.C.

Self-interests, special interests, and even conflicting principles all put this life-changing proposal in grave danger. But in a town defined by gridlock, a group of eight senators crafted a bipartisan proposal that passed with only minor change. The bill reflects agreements reached by the AFL-CIO and Chamber of Commerce; imagine that. It isn’t perfect and no single legislator got everything she or he wanted, but the key elements that many of us have been fighting for are intact. That really is a triumph of the common good.

Now, I am asking you to write your senators and ask them to support this bill on the Senate floor.

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