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568 faith leaders from the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA) today called for the timely passage of the U.S. Citizenship Act of 2021 in a letter sent to members of Congress. The letter, spearheaded by Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Service (LIRS), the nation’s largest faith-based organization dedicated exclusively to serving immigrants, urges elected officials to make haste in legislating long-overdue reforms to U.S. immigration policy.
“Guided by our faith values and biblical teachings, we believe that immigration policies must prioritize and honor the God-given dignity of each person, especially those who live on the margins of society,” reads the letter. “In view of a new opportunity to make fair and compassionate transformations to our nation’s broken immigration system, we call on Congress to come together around a long overdue solution that reflects our shared values as a nation.”
The bill includes a pathway to citizenship for undocumented immigrants, automatic green card eligibility for Dreamers, Temporary Protected Status recipients and undocumented farmworkers, resources to address the immigration case backlog, an increase in family-based visas, reinstatement of the Central American Minors program, expansion of family case management programs, and an increase of immigrant integration services, among other provisions.
“President Biden’s immigration plan demonstrates that humane policy is smart policy,” said Krish O’Mara Vignarajah, president and CEO of Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Service. “If passed, this legislation will modernize our immigration system, keep families together, expand economic opportunity, address the root causes of migration, and restore U.S. leadership as a refuge for those fleeing persecution.”
The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA) is one of the largest Christian denominations in the U.S., with nearly 3.3 million members in more than 8,900 worshiping communities across 50 states and the Caribbean region. Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Service is one of the most prominent refugee resettlement agencies, and has assisted over half a million migrants seeking safety and hope in the U.S. over the course of its 80-year history.
“We ask God to guide our nation and grant the grace of a welcoming heart,” concludes the letter. “To that end, we ask you to work collaboratively, with haste, to promote this comprehensive legislation through Congress and provide lasting solutions that will strengthen our nation for generations to come.”
Read the full letter signed by 568 faith leaders across 50 states, Washington D.C. and Puerto Rico, including 52 bishops, Presiding Bishop of the ELCA, Reverend Elizabeth A. Eaton, Chair of the Conference of Bishops of the ELCA, Bishop Tracie Bartholomew, President and CEO of Lutheran Services in America, Charlotte Haberaecker, and President and CEO of Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Service, Krish O’Mara Vignarajah.