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Christian Leaders Urge Fundamental Immigration Reform

 
February 6, 2013
WASHINGTON—Christian leaders representing the breadth of Christian churches and denominations in the United States issued a strong and urgent call February 1 for fundamental immigration reform. The annual meeting of Christian Churches Together (CCT) released this statement at the close of their four-day gathering in Austin, Texas. Bishop Joe S. Vasquez of Austin hosted the meeting and presided over the opening worship service at Saint Mary’s Cathedral.

The CCT meeting, planned a year ago, focused on the challenge of immigration reform, hearing from a variety of immigrants and experts on immigration issues. Its statement comes as the nation’s political leadership has turned its attention to this challenge. The CCT leaders said they would engage this debate “as followers of Jesus Christ who commanded us to welcome the stranger.”

“Each day in our congregations and communities, we bear witness to the effects of a system that continues the separation of families and the exploitation, abuse, and deaths of migrants. This suffering must end,” the statement said.

The group, representing leadership from Catholic, Evangelical/Pentecostal, Historic Protestant, Orthodox, and Historic Black churches, agreed on these unified principles:
•  An earned path to citizenship for the 11 million people in the United States without authorization.
•  The priority of family reunification in any immigration reform.
•  Protecting the integrity of our borders and protecting due process for immigrants and their families.
•  Improving refugee protection laws and asylum laws.
•  Reviewing international economic policies to address the root causes of unauthorized immigration.

During the course of the gathering, the group heard from immigration advocates from Evangelical organizations such as World Relief, immigration policy experts at the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB), legislative advocates serving major Protestant denominations and leaders from the Hispanic Christian community, among others. Bishop Daniel Flores of Brownsville, Texas shared his reflections on immigration in a presentation entitled, “The Immigration Experience at the Border.”

The statement issued today represents the broadest coalition of Christian denominations and groups to address together the urgency of fundamental immigration reform. It will be followed by advocacy to members of Congress from the membership of denominations and groups represented at the Austin meeting.

The full statement is posted on the website of Christian Churches Together in English (http://christianchurchestogether.org/cct-call-the-churches-and-elected-leaders-to-act-on-immigration-reform-now/) and in Spanish (http://christianchurchestogether.org/wp-content/uploads/2013/02/Declaracion-sobre-Reforma-Migratoria.pdf).  


At its plenary meeting in November 2004, the USCCB voted to participate in Christian Churches Together in the USA, an ecumenical forum that brings together representatives from most of the major Christian denominations in the country. This was the first time that the Catholic Church in the United States became a partner in such a national body, although Catholic churches in about 70 other countries belong to national councils of churches or similar bodies. Bishop Denis Madden, auxiliary bishop in Baltimore and chairman of the USCCB Committee for Ecumenical and Interreligious Affairs, serves as the Catholic President of CCT, and headed a twelve-member USCCB delegation to the 2013 meeting.
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Keywords: Catholic Church, Committee on Ecumenical and Interreligious Activities, Christian Churches Together, comprehensive immigration reform, Evangelical, Pentecostal, Historic Protestant, Eastern Orthodox, Historic Black Churches

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