Thursday, June 3, 2010

Faith Leaders Immigration Reform Sign-On Letter

Comprehensive Immigration Reform
An Open Letter to President Barack Obama

Dear Friends and Members of NY Faith & Justice,

It's not too late to sign on! The deadline has been extended to THIS FRIDAY. Plus, signatures are not limited to clergy. Lay leaders within faith communities are welcome to sign on.

So far, about 400 faith leaders have signed on, including people from across the nation who represent every major religion in the U.S. Personally, I've been encouraged by the enthusiastic response from my own faith community. So far Rev. Jim Wallis, Shane Claiborne, Rev. Gabriel Salguero, Rev. Joel Hunter, Dr. David Gushee, Rev. Richard Cizik, Rev. Michael Mata, Rev. Rich Nathan, Dr. Curtiss Paul DeYoung, Rev. Tony Campolo, Noel Castellanos, Brian McLaren, Ben Lowe and many others have signed on.

If you haven't signed on, it's not too late. Please join us then forward the list to your friends!

**To sign on, please email your name, organizational affiliation, city and state by Wednesday, June 2, close of business.

In Faith & Justice,
Lisa Sharon Harper
Co-founder and Executive Director
NY Faith & Justice

An Open Letter to President Barack Obama from America's Faith Community Leaders

Dear President Obama:

In your objections to Arizona's new immigration law, you rightly called on Congress to act swiftly to pass Comprehensive Immigration Reform. As leaders of our nation's diverse faith communities, we are united by our commitment to an America that is both safe and just. We echo your call to Senate Republicans and Democrats to negotiate and produce a bipartisan immigration reform bill this year.

To move the process forward, we ask that you make immigration reform a priority in the months ahead, using all the tools available to your office. We also ask that you convene a bipartisan summit on Comprehensive Immigration Reform. We believe this summit is necessary for lawmakers to discuss common and differing viewpoints on structuring the legislation. It would also fulfill your pledge to all Americans to provide workable solutions that fix our broken immigration system.

America needs Comprehensive Immigration Reform that both protects our interests and abides by our values. As Americans and people of faith, we are strongly committed to the safety and security of our nation, policies that ensure economic prosperity, and fair labor practices for all workers. We celebrate our commitments to the rule of law; equal protection under the law; and our rich immigrant heritage. Together these commitments make America what it is today--a global beacon of opportunity and hope.

The passage of Arizona's new immigration law highlights a failure of our federal government to enact reform. State-based solutions place an unrealistic burden on police officers and divert substantial resources from their primary responsibility to protect us from crime. Comprehensive Immigration Reform that provides a path to citizenship would decrease racial profiling, keep families together, and increase tax revenue. A 2009 study by the Cato Institute found that legalization of low-skilled workers would boost the incomes of American workers and households by $180 billion over ten years.

Many of us minister daily to individuals and communities adversely impacted by our broken system. We are convinced that America cannot afford to delay Comprehensive Immigration Reform; that our safety, our economy, and our most cherished ideals are at stake. The teachings of our nation's diverse religious traditions require action now!

The Hebrew Bible tells us: " And if a stranger sojourns with you in your land, you shall not do him wrong. The strangers who sojourn with you shall be to you as the natives among you, and you shall love them as yourself; for you were strangers in the land of Egypt: I am the Lord, your God. (Leviticus 19:33-34)."

In the New Testament, Jesus calls us to welcome the immigrant, saying "for what you do to the least of these who are members of my family, you do unto me (Matthew 25:40)."

The Qur'an requires us to "serve God, and be good to ...neighbors who are familiar and near... the companion by your side and the traveler that you meet... (4: 36)."

The Hindu scripture Taitiriya Upanishad reminds us, "The guest is a representative of God (1.11.2)."

Guru Gobind Singh, the tenth and last human Sikh Guru, guided us to "recognize the human race as one."

Our nation is blessed by a broad diversity of religious traditions. We are Baha'is, Buddhists, and Christians, Hindus, Jains, Jews, Muslims, Native Americans, Sikhs and more. We worship in different ways, but we are united in our affirmation of the Golden Rule: Treat others in the way that you yourself want to be treated.

Our current system is a transgression of these shared teachings and of American values. Comprehensive Immigration Reform is a moral imperative for our nation. Mr. President, we urge you to heed our call to conscience. The well-being of America and the lives of immigrants, our families and our children hang in the balance.

Name, Affiliation

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