Editor's note: The following is drawn from the remarks made by United Methodist Bishop Minerva Carcaño at a meeting March 8 called by U.S. President Barack Obama of religious leaders concerned about immigration reform. Fourteen faith leaders attended. Carcaño was one of four asked to make formal remarks. She is episcopal leader of the California-Pacific Conference and chair of the United Methodist Interagency Taskforce on Immigration.
I come to this table today as a bishop of The United Methodist Church. We United Methodists join other persons of faith in standing for comprehensive immigration reform: a just and humane reform that provides a pathway to citizenship for the 11 million undocumented immigrants in this country, the unification of their families, and labor protections for all workers including undocumented workers.
We also recognize that the economic needs of the United States will continue to require a migrant labor force. We pray that Congress will plan for the future of this country in ways that will care for the country’s future economic and labor needs while providing just immigration policies and processes for immigrants yet to come.
Thank you, President Obama, for recognizing that immigrant young people are affected by our country’s broken immigration policies in profound ways that negatively impact their lives and the lives of their families and communities, for generations to come. Your actions on behalf of DREAMers have led us in the right direction. Immigration reform is ultimately for young people and children, for families.
We United Methodists are working hard through a nationwide grassroots movement to support immigrant families. We are extending support to immigrant families through legal clinics, ministries with DREAMers on college campuses, works of compassion among immigrants lost in desert places and urban centers, and by making our churches welcoming and safe places for our immigrant brothers and sisters.
The brokenness in our country caused by unjust immigration policies and practices will not be mended by taller and thicker border walls.
The brokenness in our country caused by unjust immigration policies and practices will not be mended by taller and thicker border walls, but rather by the security of right and good relationships between citizens and immigrants.
During this past month, in collaboration with the Interfaith Immigration Coalition, the largest and most diverse faith coalition working on immigration reform, we have led almost 300 prayer vigils all across this country to bring before God our plea for the unification of immigrant families. Our prayers are for the unification of all immigrant families, including gay and lesbian families.
We must clear the family backlog and provide enough visas for family immigration.
We pledge to you, Mr. President, but even more so, we pledge to our immigrant brothers and sisters, that we will continue to pray and to work for comprehensive immigration reform.
Our immigrant families need our very best efforts. May God bless us all.