I take our organizational commitment to welcoming migrants and refugees very seriously. This isn’t just in our mission statement. The call to welcome the stranger is firmly rooted in Scripture, and in our programs work to support refugees, unaccompanied immigrant children, torture survivors, and other vulnerable groups of migrants.
Just how welcoming are Americans? That question forms the very core of the immigration reform debate. Everyone agrees that our system isn’t working. Yet devising a solution has proven elusive.
This week, the search for a workable solution to our dysfunctional immigration system has been orbiting around controversial statements made by Jeb Bush, the former Governor of Florida and author of a newly released book on immigration. Long viewed as a moderate voice on immigration issues, Jeb Bush this week drew the ire of senators working on a bipartisan immigration reform bill when he seemingly backed away from the principle that immigration reform must include a pathway to citizenship for aspiring Americans. Media outlets raced to publish articles pointing out how his book is in tension with his previous positions on immigration, and questioning why his position seems to have flip-flopped.
What Jeb Bush surely appreciates now is the tremendous support for a process by which undocumented immigrants can become fully contributing members of their adopted communities and nation. The bipartisan group of Senators negotiating immigration reform included a roadmap to citizenship in their publicly released outline of a bill. Even a recent Fox News poll shows that 66% of Americans support a pathway to citizenship for the undocumented. A national campaign of activists, immigrants’ rights leaders, civil rights leaders, and faith-based organizations (including LIRS) working to achieve immigration reform in 2013 chose to call itself the Alliance for Citizenship.
At LIRS, we reject any suggestions that a partial welcome for migrants and refugees is sufficient. We advocate for immigration reform that provides an earned pathway to eventual citizenship for undocumented immigrants and their families. Our nation is founded on the idea that all people are created equal and nobody should be expected to settle for less than a full share of the American Dream. It’s encouraging that many, many others share our conviction that meaningful and compassionate immigration reform must include a roadmap to citizenship for aspiring Americans. We won’t rest until that conviction becomes reality. Please join us by raising your voice, and thanks, as always, for all you do to Stand for Welcome.
Image credit: Ross