Now that Congress’s August recess is well on its way, constituents are calling on their elected representatives to listen and act on comprehensive immigration reform. One of the most important factors in swaying lawmakers’ positions is the bold support for reform now appearing in newspapers across the country. Today, I’d like to share the op-ed of the Rev. Dr. Clint Schnekloth, pastor of the Good Shepherd Lutheran Church in Fayetteville, Arkansas.
Pastor Schnekloth, whose experience as a missionary in Slovakia helped form his opinion on immigration reform, wrote the op-ed “Immigration Reform Best for All” (paywall protected) for the August 9 edition of the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette. He begins with these words:
For three years our family served as missionaries with our denomination (the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America) in Slovakia. When you live in another country, you get to experience first-hand a couple of things. First, you experience what it is like to be a stranger in a host nation. You learn the emotional and intellectual struggle of learning a new language, becoming acclimated to a new culture, experiencing the hospitality practices of that place. You also get to experience how the country deals with immigrants from a bureaucratic, legal perspective. You go fill out paperwork, work with immigration officials, fill out more paperwork. It opens your eyes in many ways.
We know that our immigration to Slovakia was simplified by the help of our colleagues and the Lutheran church there. Teachers took us to the immigration office, helped translate paperwork, and were our ambassadors in many, many ways. They were our cultural brokers. When we returned to the United States, I knew I wanted to do everything I could to help immigrants and refugees coming to the United States feel as welcomed as we did when we were in Slovakia.
Pastor Schnekloth goes on to lay out how extreme anti-immigration laws are failing America by driving away workers. He writes of how Arkansas has much to gain by effective reform that would draw in workers, keep families together, and encourage newcomers to participate in the community.
He completes his op-ed with this powerful call to action:
Now is the time for our U.S. Representatives to show they can lead the way in solving this decades-old problem. Arkansans need them to make a bipartisan effort that puts our national interests first. Let’s pray that they act with wisdom, but let us also be strong and united in our calls for common-sense, compassionate, and comprehensive reform.
By clicking the link in the headline above and subscribing to the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, you can read the entire op-ed. Pastor Schnekloth has also shared his op-ed and educational materials on immigration reform in an inspirational blog post, “Advocacy in August Matters: Compassionate Immigration Reform #LIRS.” Please show your support by Liking and Sharing both his op-ed and blog post through Facebook and other social media, and by sending the link to your friends, colleagues, and family members. In this day and age, these are the critically important ways for us to get the word out!
Congressional staffers carefully read the editorial pages and ensure that Members of Congress are attuned to constituent opinions like Pastor Schnekloth’s. I’m thankful for his committed leadership on immigration and refugee issues, and I appreciate the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette’s willingness to lift up pressing issues like this one.
If you read Pastor Schnekloth’s words and feel inspired, now is the time to raise your own voice for fair immigration reform via the LIRS Action Center. Also, please don’t forget to sign up to receive alerts from this blog, and check out our new Immigration Reform Mythbuster.
As always, thank you for all that you do to Stand for Welcome!