Despite the government shutdown, leaders in the faith community and a growing group of U.S. representatives are relentlessly pushing for immigration reform. I’m delighted to share an op-ed by one of the faith leaders, Bishop Ray Tiemann of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA)’s Southwestern Texas Synod, which appeared in the Austin American-Statesman.
In his October 3 op-ed, “Immigration Reform Will Benefit Texas,” he writes:
Texans are hearing heated debate over immigration, but it is clear to me that we need immigration reform. I tend to hear those arguments from three key angles: history, faith, and prosperity. By doing so, we can understand the urgency of the U.S. House of Representatives passing fair and compassionate legislation right away.
Bishop Tiemann goes on to describe how south Texas owes its origins to immigrants, including Swedes, Norwegians, and Germans who came in the mid-1800s. He writes:
They were allowed full participation in Texas life and so were able to invest in businesses, homes, and a better life for their children. Their many contributions to this state and the nation would be duplicated in this century with fair immigration reform, which would offer newcomers the same opportunities and responsibilities enjoyed by my forebears.
He adds, however, that economic reasons are not the root of support for immigration reform; as Christians, welcoming the stranger is part of living out our faith.
Speaking up for immigration reform is key to living our faith in the world…Our system, which relies too much on detention and record-high numbers of deportations, is creating unnecessary struggles for congregations by breaking up families. The communities of south Texas and the congregations that minister with Latino immigrants urgently need immigration reform.
He closes with this statement:
History, faith, and prosperity – all these are reasons why, for Texans, it’s crucially important that the House act now to pass a fair and comprehensive immigration reform bill. This will require members of both parties to reach across the aisle, putting our national interests ahead of partisan squabbles. I look forward to them acting with wisdom on this urgent issue, and I trust that they will.
We know that Members of Congress pay close attention to op-eds, so we are especially grateful to Bishop Tiemann for voicing his opinion. We are also very grateful to the Austin American-Statesman for its balanced coverage and for publishing Bishop Tiemann’s op-ed.
After reading the words of Bishop Tiemann, if you feel inspired, now is the time to raise your own voice for fair and compassionate 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.