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Faith Leaders Call on Washington for Humane Immigration Laws

by guest blogger Diane Steinman, Director, New York State Interfaith Network for Immigration Reform

pictured: Minister Patricia Malcolm, Rev. Bruce Southworth, Council Member Ydanis Rodriguez

photo taken by May Chen

Last week, on the one-year anniversary of that dreadful day when parts of Arizona SB 1070 went into effect, diverse faith and community leaders, joined together praying in silence for the collapse of the walls of injustice.  At the end of their silent march around 26 Federal Plaza – the Department of Homeland Security headquarters in New York—they prayed that all could have “the Right to Remain.”
A year ago on that day, many of us thought things could not get any worse – but we were wrong.  Since that day, Alabama, Georgia, Utah,   Indiana, and South Carolina have passed similar laws, and bills are under consideration in Congress calling for mandatory E-Verify and allowing for the indefinite detention of certain immigrants and asylum-seekers.  At the same time, enforcement programs continue to lead to the staggering deportations – more than one million immigrants have been deported since President Obama took office. And so on Friday, elected officials, business, labor and religious  leaders, immigrants and  their families, came together to lift our  voices and say, this is not an America we can be proud of.  Speakers sent the urgent message that our broken system must be reformed, and that until it is, President Obama must use his authority to put an end to unjust, life-destroying deportations. “Give us the Right to Remain!” was our refrain.  “Yes we can”“Si se puede” – we chanted.  And while we urged President Obama to use his executive authority to take immediate steps to bring some sense and fairness to our broken immigration system, we were also heeding the call he issued in El Paso this past June:   it is incumbent upon all of us to pressure our leaders in Washington, Republicans and Democrats alike, to do the right thing and reform our nation’s immigration laws.  We did that today, and our effort will continue.  “Yes we can” – because we must.


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