ELCA Bishop Gordy sent the letter below to Governor Bentley in response to immigration legislation signed into law this morning. Read more about the legislation here.
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Dear Governor Bentley:
As the bishop of the Southeastern Synod of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, a territory which includes all of Alabama, I feel compelled to call attention to the moral dimensions of public policy and recommend laws that uphold the God-given dignity and rights of every person, each of whom is made in the image and likeness of God. Every day I see the consequences of our country’s broken and outdated immigration system in the plight of families torn apart, exploited workers, and the debilitating fear of detection and arrest by authorities. Because the Church values family unity, justice, equity, compassion, and the humane treatment of all people, I am deeply concerned about the immigration legislation that you signed into law this morning.
The law would require local police to inquire about a person’s immigration status during routine traffic stops if the officers suspect that the individual is undocumented. Deputizing state and local law enforcement officers to enforce immigration law diverts them away from catching criminals who truly pose a risk to Alabamians. Moreover, compelling local law enforcement to take on these responsibilities also undermines the trust police officers have built with communities over the years. If migrants – both legal and undocumented – fear reporting crimes to law enforcement, all Alabamians are less safe.
I am also extremely troubled by the provision which would require public schools to determine immigration status of students and their parents. This provision would scare kids away from attending school and seems particularly mean-spirited.
Finally, the bill would create new laws to punish those who transport or harbor undocumented immigrants. I am concerned that these provisions could impact churches and church ministry programs that serve all people who need assistance – regardless of their immigration status.
I stand with other religious, community and business leaders in Alabama and across the country to continue advocating to Congress and the White House for leadership on federal solutions to overhaul the nation’s immigration system. I would encourage you to join me in advocating for federal action and refrain from approving laws that undermine our communities and punish children.
Please know that my prayers are with you as you carry out your duties. I am grateful for your consideration of this letter and would be happy to discuss this with you further.
H. Julian Gordy
Bishop, ELCA Southeastern Synod