Ask your Senators/Representatives to modernize and humanize our nation’s immigration system by creating an earned pathway to citizenship. You can send a message through the ELCA Action Center. “I am hopeful that this administration will work toward a more comprehensive immigration reform with dignity for all, including Dreamers. It will not be an easy task, and we will probably encounter many setbacks, but we have to continue to luchar (fight),” said Alicia Dominguez, a Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) recipient from Delaware, of the new opportunities before Congress to enact more just immigration laws and realize a path to citizenship.
Immigrants are vital members of our communities, and yet it’s been more than 30 years since Congress passed legislation to reform our country’s immigration system and adjust the status of undocumented individuals. Establishing a clean roadmap to earn citizenship would strengthen our nation for years to come and fulfill a moral responsibility to protect family unity and community wholeness. Congress is at a pivotal moment to address the situation of millions marginalized by our nation’s immigration laws. Our communities deserve permanent solutions that provide a roadmap to citizenship for all immigrants who call the U.S. their home.
There are around 11 million individuals without legal status in the U.S., the majority of whom have lived in this country for over a decade. In the absence of a viable path to citizenship, many have been forced to a life in the shadows where they are vulnerable to economic exploitation and diminished opportunities to thrive. Some individuals with Temporary Protected Status (TPS) and Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) have fared marginally better by unlocking opportunities to work and study lawfully, however their fate is tied up in courts (USA v. Texas, and Ramos v. Nielsen). The need to chart a new course through legislation has never been more apparent.
Congressional legislative action is needed to revamp our immigration laws and provide a pathway to citizenship for all 11 million undocumented people without passing down any harmful repercussions on immigrant communities. With President Biden calling on Congress to enact a sweeping immigration reform, and with multiple proposals under consideration, Congress has an unmistakable opportunity to pass lasting legislative solutions this year.
Immigrants worship, work and raise families in our communities and ELCA congregations, mutually enriching one another’s lives and the social fabric of this nation in innumerable ways. Our immigration laws should honor the God-given dignity of every person, protect family unity, and promote the flourishing of our communities.
“The newcomers in our church from around the world remind us that all of us in the Church of Jesus Christ are sojourners, ‘for here we have no lasting city, but we are looking for the city that is to come’ (Hebrews 13: 14). As we journey together through the time God has given us, may God give us the grace of a welcoming heart and an overflowing love for the new neighbors among us” (ELCA social message on “Immigration”).
Urge your members of Congress to support a pathway to earn citizenship for all immigrants! Take action through the ELCA Action Center today.
ELCA Advocacy is a ministry in our wider church that advocates for those that are often left unrepresented. ELCA Advocacy never supports individuals or politicians, but utilizes the Social Statements founded in the theology of the ELCA as a basis to help those in need, to love the stranger, and to serve in the way Jesus taught. ELCA advocacy focuses narrowly on the issues that matter to us as people of faith; it does not focus on politics and the inner workings of governments. Instead, it focuses on what we value as a people, how we treat all God’s creation, and how we can change systems and establish bills/laws/policies that better reflect our ethical and spiritual obligations.
THE CAMPAIGN AGAINST GENDER BASED VIOLENCE
One thing that the ELCA is advocating for right now is helping those suffering from gender based violence. Gender-based violence increases during conflict and humanitarian crises. The United Nations reports that 1 in 5 refugees or internally displaced women living in humanitarian crisis have experienced sexual abuse. In conflict situations gender-based violence is sometimes used as a weapon of war. Initiatives such as the U.S. Safe from the Start, which H.R. 571 codifies, and the Global Call to Action on Protection from Gender-based Violence in Emergencies, a multilateral initiative to advance the transformational change that ensures priority attention to the needs and rights of women and girls and gender-based violence survivors in humanitarian action, have moved this issue at the forefront of humanitarian work. It is crucial to ensure that this transformative work continues.
A bipartisan group of legislators in the House of Representatives has introduced the Safe from the Start Act of 2021 (H.R. 571) to prevent gender-based violence and provide early interventions at the onset of humanitarian emergencies. Introduced by Representatives Mario Diaz-Balart (R-FL), Grace Meng (D-NY), Lois Frankel (D-FL), Chris Stewart (R-UT), and Chrissy Houlahan (D-PA), the Safe from the Start Act will codify the Safe from the Start initiative currently administered by the Department of State and the U.S. Agency for International Aid (USAID). This initiative provides training, toolkits, and other resources to mitigate risks for gender-based violence and improves humanitarian workers’ ability to address needs of those impacted by gender-based violence in humanitarian situations. The bill enhances partnerships with local organizations to increase capacity and institutes congressional accountability measures.
As Christians we believe all human beings are made in the image of God. Gender-based violence rejects the created goodness and dignity that God gives to every human creature, and as the ELCA social message on “Gender-based Violence” says, “As a church we recognize and deplore the horrific suffering caused by gender-based violence globally.”
Please take a moment to urge your Representative to co-sponsor the Safe from the Start Act of 2021 at the ELCA Action Center.
Drew Ajer is the Director of Youth & Service Ministry at Prince of Peace
ELCA Action Center
Safe from the Start Act 2021
Lutheran Office of Public Policy- California
2020 Voter Guide (CA)