President Barack Obama announced executive action to remedy protracted inaction on immigration reform on Thursday night November 20. This good news was indeed a word of Mercy pointing toward a focus on hope and not fear.
In our President’s words, “Mass deportation is impossible and contrary to our character.” President Obama echoed scripture that is foundational to our call for comprehensive Immigration Reform. - “You must not mistreat or oppress foreigners, for you yourselves were once foreigners in the land of Egypt.” (Exodus 22:21)
In recent years millions of people have said that our immigration system is broken and that our economy suffers because we keep millions of undocumented immigrants living in the shadows.
The President rightly identified the need to support families, while deporting only those who would do harm - “felons not families”.
The Council of Bishops of The United Methodist Church has supported the call for Immigration Reform and encouraged local communities to participate in ministries of mercy and justice.
Critics attack the President’s executive action, suggesting that the work of reform is the responsibility of Congress. Nevertheless, the question remains unanswered as to why the House of Representatives will not act on a Senate-approved bill.
We know that immigrants in our communities are ready to embrace a path to citizenship. They want to come out of the shadows that often permit men, women, and children to be taken advantage of. Our United Methodist churches can help by simply being welcoming congregations and by supporting expanded legal support through Justice for Our Neighbors.
Good news for possibly five million undocumented immigrants can be good news for the entire country. Full reform of current immigration policies invites us to be messengers of hope rather than prisoners of fear.
Bishop Julius C. Trimble