No Brainer on Family Values?
The current immigration deal under consideration in the Senate needs a family values fix. Right now, there are “an estimated 1.5 million legal immigrants in the United States who have been waiting as long as seven years to bring husbands, wives and small children to live with them.” The current immigration bill does NOTHING to fix this, and in fact, reduces the number of family reunification visas available each year. This means that the backlog of families waiting to be reunited will only continue to grow.
Fortunately, there’s a bipartisan amendment by Sens. Clinton, Hagel, and Menendez that provides a family values fix. This amendment would declare the spouses and minor children of legal residents to be “immediate relatives”, exempting them from the visa caps. It could come up for a vote as soon as TODAY.
Several religious leaders appeared at a press conference yesterday in support of this amendment. But shouldn’t there be a lot more noise on this from the faith community, from the left and right? Shouldn’t all groups who claims to be pro-family be firing up their constituencies in support of of this family values fix? Here are the statements from religious leaders and organizations that we have seen so far… anyone seen any more?
“The amendment to be offered by Senators Clinton, Hagel and Menendez helps restore an element of family unity to the Senate compromise bill. As proposed, the legislation leaves family values at the Rio Grande,” said Kevin Appleby, Director, Migration and Refugee Policy, U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops.
“Families are the building blocks of an ordered and procreative society through which people are able to grow and experience the love of God. Our government must promote laws and policies that strengthen the well-being of all families- including immigrant families. It is through families that our communities are more stable and stronger and the Clinton-Hagel amendment would allow those who have waited legally, the right way, to be more quickly reunited with their loved ones. World Relief commends Senator Clinton, Senator Hagel and Senator Menendez’s commitment to the issue of family reunification within the Comprehensive Immigration Reform debate and looks to their leadership to continue to place priority on the value of family,” said Dan Kosten, Director of the World Relief Refugee and Immigration Programs.
“Senator Clinton has consistently provided leadership on this issue. She has never lost sight of the real families and children impacted by our broken immigration system,” said Reverend Luis CortÃ©s, Founder and President of Esperanza, the largest Hispanic Evangelical organization. “Senator Clinton’s amendment would help reunite families now torn apart because of an unfair policy, and I want to thank her for her courage and commitment to fixing this injustice.”
“The Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Service applauds Senators Clinton, Hagel and Menendez for putting the principle of ‘families first’ back into this legislation. This amendment makes it possible for thousands of spouses and young children who have been separated from their families for an average of nearly 5 years to reunite far more quickly. Bringing families together is a core American value that LIRS stands firmly behind,â€ said Gregory Chen, Director for Legislative Affairs, the Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Service.
Rev. Derrick Harkins, posted on Sojourner’s God’s Politics blog, from his testimony to the Subcommittee on Immigration, Citizenship, Refugees, Border Security and International Law in the House of Representatives on May 22, 2007.
Family, in its strongest and most stable structure, is an essential pillar of our society…The limitation of family-based immigration by the reduction of family reunification visas would impair that family structure in significant measure. Siblings, adult children, and parents (those directly affected by any potential reduction) are in many examples and cultural contexts core, and not merely “extended,â€ family.
The Episcopal Church’s 2006 legislative body, General Convention, expressed strong support for comprehensive immigration legislation and regarded family unity as an imperative of any reformed system. …Sadly, the Senate compromise legislation includes provisions that devalue family sponsored immigration. Family reunification offers the stability and support needed for immigrants to thrive in our communities and as workers to meet the economic needs of our country. By passing the Clinton-Hagel amendment that would exempt spouses and minor children of lawful permanent residents from the visa cap, the Senate would allow for more expeditious unification of immediate family members.
Because, as a faith community, we believe in the importance of family, we strongly oppose provisions that will split families apart. Support of family unification has been a bedrock value of U.S. immigration policies because it has long been recognized that family unity fosters stable communities and provides needed support for workers while in the U.S.
Sister Simone Campbell, executive director of NETWORK, spoke in favor of the Clinton-Hagel-Menendez amendment at yesterday’s press conference.