Written by Emily Mullins
Members of the United Church of Christ's Collaborative on Immigration (formerly the Immigration Task Force) will join tens of thousands of immigration activists at the A10 All in for Citizenship rally April 10 in Washington, D.C. The event will take place on the west lawn of the U.S. Capitol where advocates will call on Congress to fix the country's broken immigration system. The rally culminates a week of lobbying, media events, and educational forums, and precedes the introduction of a bill to overhaul the U.S. immigration system, expected later this week.
"There is new hope about immigration reform," said the Rev. Mari Castellanos, UCC advocate for domestic issues and member of the UCC Collaborative on Immigration. "As the so-called 'Gang of Eight' gives the final touches to their proposal, tens of thousands will travel to Washington for a rally in front of the capitol."
The event marks the anniversary of the largest mobilization for immigrant rights in recent history. On April 10, 2006, more than 70 cities across the U.S. took action to encourage the Senate to defeat the Border Protection, Antiterrorism and Illegal Immigration Control Act of 2005, also known as the Sensenbrenner Bill, which sought to address illegal immigration by strengthening interior enforcement of immigration laws and enacting additional border security measures. The bill, known as the catalyst for the 2006 immigration reform protests, was the first piece of legislation passed by a house of congress highlighting the country's immigration debate. It was passed by the House of Representatives in 2005, but did not pass the Senate.
Senators in the bipartisan "Gang of Eight," who have been working on immigration reform legislation since late last year, have reportedly resolved all major issues in a pending deal, and the bill is expected to be introduced this week. The legislation is to include an earned pathway to citizenship for an estimated 11 million undocumented immigrants, increased border security measures, and details of a guest worker program. A bipartisan group from the House is also working on its own version of an immigration reform bill. If the Senate and House bills pass their respective chambers, they would have to be merged before a final version is voted on and then sent to President Barack Obama to sign into law.
"People of faith from every corner of the nation will join in to support our immigrant sisters and brothers," said Castellanos. "I ask our UCC family to surround both the marchers and the congress with a mantel of prayer, in the hope that justice and mercy merge to make this reform a reality."
The UCC's Collaborative on Immigration formed in the fall of 2012 to capitalize on the recent momentum surrounding immigration reform and to work to make the new legislation a reality. Comprising UCC pastors, executives and partners, its members hope to combine their time, passion and expertise to create a unified voice for hope and change.
The A10 All in for Citizenship rally is organized by CASA of Maryland, a community organization that works to improve the quality of life and fight for equal treatment and full access to resources and opportunities for low-income Latinos and their families. Visit the organization's website for more information.
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.