Key representatives of the Episcopal Church testified today before the Senate Judiciary Committee at a hearing today on immigration reform. Episcopal Church Office of Government Relations Director Alexander Baumgarten and Katie Conway, Immigration and Refugee Policy Analyst, submitted testimony to the committee, chaired by Sen. Patrick Leahy of Vermont. An excerpt from their testimony:
The Episcopal Church’s support for comprehensive and humane reform of our immigration laws stems from our decades-long commitment to immigrants and refugees, rooted in our biblical mandate to welcome the stranger and serve the “least of these,” among us. For over 60 years, the Episcopal Church has resettled refugees fleeing persecution and has served as a forceful advocate for the needs of refugees, immigrants and other at-risk migrants for whom stronger protection is needed under our laws. This commitment to protection has led our highest governing body, the General Convention, to pass multiple resolutions in support of an immigration system that allows undocumented immigrants with established roots in the United States access to a pathway to citizenship. This includes a commitment the rights of all families, including the families of same-sex partners and spouses, to reunify without undue delay; labor protections under the law for both U.S. and migrant workers; and common-sense enforcement policies that respect the dignity and worth of every human being.
Each day, in congregations, diocese and communities across the country, the “strangers” among us enrich our lives and contribute to the multiethnic tradition of the American Dream. Immigrants of all skill levels, from those who pick the food that nourishes us to those who care for our children and elders to those whose technological innovations fix our computers, contribute economically, socially and spiritually to our communities. That is why we believe that any immigration reform must reform the entire system and avoid pitting different causes of migration and groups of immigrants against one another. Workers of all skill levels should be allowed to offer their needed contributions to our economy and they should be allowed to keep their families intact. Our system must not deny the socio-economic necessity of family, and the employment and family-immigration systems should be viewed as complimentary rather than competitive. Family members help one another integrate, pursue job opportunities, start their own businesses, and provide the foundations of healthy communities.
Our immigration system should be reformed so that immigrants who wish to reunify with their families or seek employment in the United States do not have to make impossible choices between our immigration laws and the people they love. Our Church recognizes the importance of adhering to our nation’s laws, but we believe we must work to change the laws if they do not respect the dignity of human beings or respond to the needs of communities. This call to right relationship within human communities is a cornerstone of the Judeo-Christian scriptural and ethical tradition, and finds expression for Episcopalians in the promise each makes at baptism to “strive for justice and peace among all people and respect the dignity of every human being.”
Read full text of their testimony here.