As both political parties in Washington continue to postpone the conversation around comprehensive immigration reform, the communities and families affected by this broken system continue to suffer. The lack of action by our federal government and representatives fuels a frustration on the state level that begins to show itself in the form of punitive legislation that aims to crack down on undocumented workers and their families.
Communities of faith have been by far the loudest voices in these heated debates around state legislation that aims to emulate Arizona’s S.B. 1070. They have often called for calm and consideration for the families that will pay the price for political gridlock.
In Utah, Rev. Steve Klemz, pastor of Zion Evangelical Lutheran Church in Salt Lake City, has been leading interfaith efforts to advance comprehensive immigration reform and to fight punitive state proposals.
About a dozen faith leaders, led by the Rev. Steve Klemz, pastor of Zion Evangelical Lutheran Church in Salt Lake City, assembled on the Capitol grounds as the 2011 Legislature got under way.
The clerics acknowledged that the immigration system is broken, but argued it is the nation’s problem to fix, not the state’s.
Klemz read from a letter addressed to Utah Gov. Gary Herbert and leaders of both the Utah House and Senate. It was signed by about 30 religious figures, including the state’s Catholic and Episcopalian bishops and the Lutheran bishop over the Rocky Mountain region.
“Instead of creating heightened immigration enforcement laws,” the letter said, “we ask that you join us in addressing the United States Congress and the administration to advocate for comprehensive immigration reform.”
In another article Rev. Klemz is quoted saying:
“We believe that we need to bring undocumented immigrants out of the shadows and provide them with an earned pathway to permanent residency, to protect family unity, and ensure the just and equitable treatment of all people,” said the Rev. Steve A. Klemz of Zion Evangelical Lutheran Church, who organized the leaders for a news conference at the Capitol.
LIRS applauds Rev. Klemz and recognizes his strong leadership on the issue. The trends we are seeing point to an increase in punitive state legislation, and an enforcement-only approach that will further fragment communities. Rev. Klemz and others like him help make the case that only a comprehensive reform of our immigration system will bring health and wholeness to our country.