This week’s State Action Alert comes to you from Florida, where some of the most important campaigning for immigration reform is taking place. Because it’s such a pivotal state, the Bishop’s Task Force on Immigration of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America’s Florida-Bahamas Synod developed and promoted this video to raise awareness of the plight of the 85,000+ young aspiring Americans in Florida who are caught in the tangled web of our broken immigration system.
Please check out the video below, and don’t forget to contact your elected representatives to call for fair and humane immigration reform!
In the interview below, Rev. Dr. Jon Keiser, Senior Pastor of the Lutheran Church of Our Saviour and Chair, Bishop’s Immigration Task Force (Bishop Edward Benoway, Florida-Bahamas Synod), brings us up to speed on the video and the situation in his state. Folabi Olagbaju, LIRS National Director for Organizing, conducted the interview by email:
Folabi Olagnbaju (FO): Why do you think immigration reform is important?
Rev. Dr. Jon Keiser (JK): With myriads of rules, regulations, and over 100 immigration categories, and after years of irregular enforcement policies, the system has morphed to become dysfunctional. It no longer serves our country’s needs. As evidenced by our video, the current system is tearing apart families and killing dreams. It is also hurting our country by preventing qualified persons from entering the work force, professional and otherwise. The current system has created a society of vulnerable and suffering people. It rewards incarceration and costs hundreds of millions of dollars. Comprehensive reform is necessary to restore the great immigration heritage that is the history of America. We are unique in the world because our American history was, and continues to be, written by immigrants. From a Christian point of view the system has ceased to serve our Christian and American principles of family, justice, mercy, hope, and second chance opportunity. Both the Hebrew Scriptures and the New Testament place enormous emphasis upon hospitality to the sojourner as God’s purpose.
FO: What prompted you to make this video?
JK: This video is the second video made by our team for the Florida-Bahamas Synod Assembly. The current political situation is ripe for a long-awaited complete and comprehensive overhaul. This video shows two stories of young adult DREAMers who could be contributors to our nation’s livelihood. Yet their families have either been wrecked and/or their dreams placed on hold by the current system. Yet, they hold onto their dreams of being productive citizens in this society and culture, the country in which they were raised and schooled. This country is their home. The purpose of the video is to bring their stories to light to engender a sense of patriotism and Christian responsibility to act for justice by contacting their legislators advocating for a just reform, especially providing a reasonable pathway to citizenship, reunification of families, and just and merciful enforcement of policies.
FO: Why does the Immigration Task Force in your synod believe people should take action now?
JK: There has been no better time in recent years to act than now. Finally, the social and political climate is right for Congress to act on a comprehensive reform bill that will be just and fix the dysfunctionality of the system. The entire spectrum of Christian belief is united in one voice for reform. Our Christian responsibilities include ministries of mercy, faithfulness and justice which are the “weightier matters of the Law”. (Matthew 23:23). Thus we are compelled to act by contacting our legislators and by making our principles known to them.