Written by Emily Mullins
The day after President Obama's inauguration will be a busy one for immigration reform activists around the country as thousands participate in the National Faith Call-In Day for Humane Immigration Reform. On Tuesday, Jan. 22, individuals are encouraged to call their congressional representatives to express that people of faith demand immigration reform in 2013. The call is being organized by the Interfaith Immigration Coalition, a partnership of faith-based organizations committed to enacting fair and humane immigration reform.
"This is an interfaith, national event," said Noel Anderson, Church World Service grassroots coordinator for immigrant rights, former assistant pastor at the Good Shepherd United Church of Christ in Sahuarita, Ariz., and member of the UCC's Immigration Task Force. "Immigration will be a big part of the president's inauguration address. We are expecting thousands of calls."
Proposed legislation is expected to go through the Senate first, so callers are urged to reach out to their senators during the Jan. 22 event. Participants can call 866-940-2439 to be connected to both of their senators. Event organizers suggest calling twice to speak to both representatives, and to spread the word to friends, family, congregations and communities. Visit the Interfaith Immigration Coalition website for more information and a sample script for what to say during the call.
The Obama Administration has vowed to make immigration reform a reality in its second term, and Anderson and other activists say there is a chance new legislation will be introduced as early as March 2013. While President Obama is said to be moving forward on a comprehensive reform plan that will, among other measures, seek a path to citizenship for 11 million undocumented immigrants, create new temporary visa programs for low-skilled foreign workers, and give more green cards to foreign math and science graduates at U.S. universities, pushback from Republicans who would rather tackle immigration reform issues individually is expected.
"We are trying to press our Senators to make sure what we want is included in the legislation," Anderson said. "Making sure there is a pathway to citizenship and humane methods of enforcement are part of that."
The United Church of Christ has a long history of affirming the dignity of immigrants and working for comprehensive U.S. Immigration policy. Since 1995, General Synod – the main deliberative body of the UCC – has repeatedly called for a fair and human approach to U.S. immigration policy that protects families and respects the humanity of our immigrant brothers and sisters.
The UCC's Immigration Task Force formed in fall 2012 to represent a collective voice in the recently reenergized fight for immigration reform. The group includes faith-based activists who work toward strategic goals and represent the advocacy of UCC leaders and congregations throughout the United States.