In the current series of articles for our Provincial Newsletter I have concentrated on moral discernment in the national dialogues of the United States. Christian Churches Together in the USA has issued several statements on moral issues and I thought we might usefully examine some of the most recent statements. Our last article considered the 2014 statement on Mass Incarceration. This article looks at the fundamental reform of immigration and the principles which should guide it.
The Christian Churches Together Statement on Immigration
“As Christian leaders and Christian Communities, we engage in this debate as followers of Jesus Christ, who commanded us to “welcome the stranger”(Mt.25:35), and advised that, “just as you did it to one of the least of these who are members of my family, you did it to me”(Mt 25:40).”
“While immigration is often viewed as an economic, social, or legal issue, it is ultimately a humanitarian and spiritual issue that directly impacts millions of unauthorized immigrants and the entire fabric of our society. The Bible frequently commands us to treat the immigrant justly. Further, every person is created in the image of God and possesses inestimable value. It is therefore paramount that our national immigration system protects the basic human rights and dignity of all persons. Sadly, our current system fails to meet this test and requires comprehensive reform now.”
The statement then urges our elected officials to enact immigration reform consistent with the following principles and policies, which it elaborates in the document:
- 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.
In its closing paragraph CCT states that it will recommit its members to be promoters and examples of justice, showing hospitality and love for the immigrant.
“We call for our nation to engage in an immigration debate that is conducted in a civil manner and does not dehumanize immigrants. We will speak out and educate communities about the past and current contributions of immigrants in building and growing this nation. Finally, we will work with our elected officials to ensure that, consistent with the aforementioned policies and principles, the human rights of immigrants are protected in any final legislation.”
CCT acknowledges that members of its churches and ecclesial communities have been complicit in the establishment and reinforcement of the current system through active political engagement and apathetic inaction. Our country cannot tolerate an immigration system that exploits migrants, is inhospitable, and fails to offer immigrants the full protection of the law. Through a process of prayer, reflection and discernment of God’s call, CCT agreed on a statement to provide principles for a just and humane immigration reform.
Membership in CCT has grown steadily since its foundation in 2002 and those who represent the various churches are either the leaders of these churches and denominations or their representatives. Like most ecumenical dialogues and agencies, they do not speak for the churches, but CCT reflects their teachings in its deliberations. CCT speaks as Christians and followers of Jesus Christ, guided by the scriptures and tradition.
CCT is fulfilling a role that is much needed in the public square and the debate about social justice and moral issues affecting people in our nation and beyond. While immigration has become a hot political issue, CCT points out its moral/ethical dimensions, and the requirements of social justice that remain for those who dream of a land of freedom, justice and opportunity.