Today is the 50th anniversary of the March on Washington, when Martin Luther King and other civil rights leaders announced their dream for a future of equality. Church World Service—a faith group that 50 years ago provided blankets to all those who came to Washington—has an op-ed in the Huffington Post today about one of today’s fierce urgencies, the need for immigration reform.
As their op-ed notes:
As Congress considers how to move forward on immigration reform, we in the faith community are strongly advocating for a path to citizenship for our 11 million undocumented community members. If Congress does not get this done, we will perpetuate the very injustices Dr. King advocated against — a country in which entire communities are prohibited from ever achieving the full rights and freedoms guaranteed by our nation’s founders.
Church World Service is one of a number of faith groups that support immigration reform with a pathway to citizenship, with other groups including the US Conference of Catholic Bishops and the Evangelical Immigration Table.
CWS also called attention to the SAFE Act, an anti-immigrant bill that House Republicans may take up this fall, and how what it represents is “not the America that Dr. King dreamed of”:
In addition, one of the gravest threats to civil rights currently facing our country is H.R. 2278, the Strengthen and Fortify Enforcement Act, known in bitter irony as the “SAFE” Act. But there is nothing safe about this so-called SAFE Act. This bill, currently being considered by the House of Representatives, would encourage racial profiling and harm both community safety and vulnerable populations.
The bill is modeled after Arizona’s S.B. 1070 law mandating that local law enforcement investigate, identify, apprehend, arrest and detain everyone who they suspect to be undocumented or deportable.
By mandating that local police serve as immigration officials, it would decrease community safety, since many would not report crimes, fearing deportation of themselves or a loved one. In addition, the SAFE Act would criminalize religious leaders and houses of worship that provide humanitarian assistance to all persons regardless of immigration status.
It is a key tenant of our faith that we welcome and assist all newcomers and those in need without checking immigration paperwork. Imagine all the soup kitchens housed in church basements checking documents. This is what the SAFE Act would require. Additionally, this horrendous piece of legislation would criminalize ordinary acts of kindness like providing transportation to a neighbor or congregation member, and would even criminalize members of mixed immigration status families traveling together.
This is not the America that Dr. King dreamed of 50 years ago. We in the faith community will not stand to have compassion criminalized.
Read the entire op-ed here.