February 6, 2013
WASHINGTON—Christian leaders representing the breadth of Christian
churches and denominations in the United States issued a strong and
urgent call February 1 for fundamental immigration reform. The annual
meeting of Christian Churches Together (CCT) released this statement at
the close of their four-day gathering in Austin, Texas. Bishop Joe S.
Vasquez of Austin hosted the meeting and presided over the opening
worship service at Saint Mary’s Cathedral.
The CCT meeting, planned a
year ago, focused on the challenge of immigration reform, hearing from a
variety of immigrants and experts on immigration issues. Its statement
comes as the nation’s political leadership has turned its attention to
this challenge. The CCT leaders said they would engage this debate “as
followers of Jesus Christ who commanded us to welcome the stranger.”
day in our congregations and communities, we bear witness to the
effects of a system that continues the separation of families and the
exploitation, abuse, and deaths of migrants. This suffering must end,”
the statement said.
The group, representing leadership from Catholic,
Evangelical/Pentecostal, Historic Protestant, Orthodox, and Historic
Black churches, agreed on these unified principles:
• An earned path to citizenship for the 11 million people in the United States without authorization.
• The priority of family reunification in any immigration reform.
• Protecting the integrity of our borders and protecting due process for immigrants and their families.
• Improving refugee protection laws and asylum laws.
• Reviewing international economic policies to address the root causes of unauthorized immigration.
the course of the gathering, the group heard from immigration advocates
from Evangelical organizations such as World Relief, immigration policy
experts at the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB), legislative
advocates serving major Protestant denominations and leaders from the
Hispanic Christian community, among others. Bishop Daniel Flores of
Brownsville, Texas shared his reflections on immigration in a
presentation entitled, “The Immigration Experience at the Border.”
statement issued today represents the broadest coalition of Christian
denominations and groups to address together the urgency of fundamental
immigration reform. It will be followed by advocacy to members of
Congress from the membership of denominations and groups represented at
the Austin meeting.
The full statement is posted on the website of Christian Churches Together in English (http://christianchurchestogether.org/cct-call-the-churches-and-elected-leaders-to-act-on-immigration-reform-now/) and in Spanish (http://christianchurchestogether.org/wp-content/uploads/2013/02/Declaracion-sobre-Reforma-Migratoria.pdf).
its plenary meeting in November 2004, the USCCB voted to participate in
Christian Churches Together in the USA, an ecumenical forum that brings
together representatives from most of the major Christian denominations
in the country. This was the first time that the Catholic Church in the
United States became a partner in such a national body, although
Catholic churches in about 70 other countries belong to national
councils of churches or similar bodies. Bishop Denis Madden, auxiliary
bishop in Baltimore and chairman of the USCCB Committee for Ecumenical
and Interreligious Affairs, serves as the Catholic President of CCT, and
headed a twelve-member USCCB delegation to the 2013 meeting.
Catholic Church, Committee on Ecumenical and Interreligious Activities,
Christian Churches Together, comprehensive immigration reform,
Evangelical, Pentecostal, Historic Protestant, Eastern Orthodox,
Historic Black Churches
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