May 8, 2013

National Religious Leaders Urge Protection of Family Unity Among Immigrants

As the Senate Judiciary Committee begins the markup of the Immigrant Visa Title II section of the bipartisan immigration bill, prominent religious leaders are lifting up their prophetic voices and strongly supporting amendments that would strengthen family unity. The faith community remains committed to pro-family immigration reform that unites immigrant families, and is supporting amendments offered by Senator Mazie Hirono (D-HI) that would restore the ability of U.S. citizens to sponsor their siblings and married children over 30, and allow individuals with registered provisional immigrant status to sponsor their immediate family members outside of the United States. 
While the current immigration reform bill, S. 744, includes some positive provisions that would improve family reunification, it would also eliminate the ability for U.S. citizens to sponsor their siblings and married children over the age of 30. 

Statements from diverse religious and social justice leaders demonstrated the faith community’s support for amendments that would improve the current immigration reform bill's family provisions, and opposition to proposals that would prevent family reunification.  Below is a statement by The Rev. Ron Degges, President of Disciples Home Missions, Christian Church (Disciples of Christ):
 "As Christians committed to God’s call to ‘welcome the stranger’ and to promote the wholeness and well-being of families, Disciples’ leaders recognize that family unity is not only a national issue, but a personal and church issue as well. We constantly encounter immigrants in our churches whose parents and children, and grandparents and spouses, have been torn apart from one another for years. Such separation causes wrenching pain, and diminishes families’ abilities to focus upon education, progress, and contributions to our society.

"Therefore, we strongly support the Senate Judiciary Committee in passing amendments that allow US citizens to sponsor siblings and married children over 30, hopefully without any age limit, but at minimum to age 39. We promote legislation that increases the likelihood that family members can be reunited, and that allows individuals with RPI status to sponsor their spouse and children outside of the US. To not do so can result-- as in the case of one of our immigrant pastors recently-- in the heartbreaking death of a spouse overseas, despite years of processing and waiting, paying and praying for a reunion under our current broken system."

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