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Where We Are Headed With U.S. Immigration

As we close out the OSJ’s “What’s the Deal With Immigration?” series - in which we first discovered where we were and where we are now with immigration policy in the US - we will answer the question, where are we headed? 

As described in the first two articles of this series, it is clear that the United States needs immigration reform because our current system is outdated and no longer meets the country’s needs, and it has become increasingly harmful. Understanding this background and context, we as people of faith must acknowledge that where we are headed is towards the continued call for immigration reform - for an immigration system that is just, humane, compassionate, and reflective of the biblical theme of care for the marginalized. 

This charge is not new to us.

The Christian Reformed Church in North America began advocating for immigration reform in 2010. In its recommendations to the Office of Social Justice and the denomination at large, synod called on “congregations and church members to support the need for comprehensive immigration reform in ways that will reduce the number of people without status,” and “to speak out against, and seek to reform, laws and practices concerning the treatment of immigrants that appear to be unduly harsh or unjust.”

We’ve urged Congress to pass a long-term solution

Over the last decade, the OSJ and CRC members across the country have lifted their voices for just and humane immigration policy. We’ve urged Congress to pass a long-term solution for “Dreamers” (undocumented immigrants brought to the US as children), encouraged the president to maintain a robust refugee resettlement program, and demanded that inhumane family separations and deportations be stopped. 

Today, at the start of a new Congress and the 46th presidential administration, we have a renewed opportunity to lift our voices for all of these “asks” in one piece of legislation. We do so with prayerful hope, knowing that this will not be the first time that Congress has tried to fix our broken immigration system.

In 2006, Congress attempted to pass a Comprehensive Immigration Reform (CIR) bill, but they could not come to a bipartisan agreement. Another CIR bill was introduced but failed again in 2009.

This was only a temporary solution

After two failed attempts in Congress to pass piecemeal “DREAM” legislation in 2001 and again in 2010, President Obama created the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program in 2012, an executive order allowing immigrants who had been brought to the U.S. as children to receive protection from deportation and work authorization. But this was only a temporary solution that did not provide a pathway to citizenship. 

In 2013, a bipartisan compromise to reform our immigration system passed the Senate. It increased border security while also providing a path to citizenship for some undocumented immigrants, but controversy over the thousands of asylum-seeking children from Central America influenced political will in the House, and the bill expired. Though a “Dream” bill passed the House in 2019, it did not pass in the Senate. Since 2013, there has not been a CIR bill passed in either chamber. 

Now is the time for people of faith

On the first day of his presidency, Joe Biden introduced an immigration bill that would provide a pathway to citizenship for approximately 11 million undocumented immigrants, strengthen labor protections for immigrants, prioritize smart and humane border management, and address the root causes of migration. Sent to Congress on Inauguration Day, it is expected that the bill will be introduced in both the House and the Senate.

With the possibility of immigration reform this close at hand, now is the time for people of faith to encourage their members of congress to support just and humane comprehensive immigration policies that value human dignity and flourishing. This requires our action; the biblical call to seek justice (Isaiah 1:17) and do justice (Micah 6:8) is active and bold.

Where are we headed? Immigration reform. How will we get there? Faith-based advocacy. 

Join us!


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