180 Iowa Faith Leaders Make Plea for Immigration Reform

Dear Sen. Grassley, Sen. Ernst and Iowa’s members of the House of Representatives,

As faith leaders, we are called to work for legislation that is moral and just. It was once legal to enslave Africans, to deny women the right to vote, to forcibly remove and kill indigenous people, and intern Japanese citizens.

Such actions required disobedience. Sanctity of lawfulness can only be achieved when laws are moral and just.

Legislation to modernize our immigration laws is undeniably needed. The system we have is outdated and the enforcement of these laws is cumbersome, unrealistic, costly, and too often runs contrary to the sacredness and dignity of all people. It is also eroding the foundation of our families.

We need moral and just immigration legislation for our nation’s DACA recipients and immigrants facing grave violence and entrenched poverty who seek refuge in the United States. We call upon you to lead our nation in this work.

We implore you to refuse support for billions of dollars of additional funding for a senseless border wall and the already bloated Department of Homeland Security. The increased criminalization of immigrants for the supposed sake of “protecting national security” has increasingly served as the justification for the funding of the world’s largest policing, imprisonment and deportation apparatus. In the past 15 years, the U.S. has deported 5 million people — almost twice as many people as in the previous 110 years combined. This approach has served only to make our communities and families suffer while lining the pockets of the private prison industry.

We call on you to legislate pathways to citizenship for DACA recipients through the DREAM Act. Without legislation, the hopes and dreams for drivers’ licenses, employment and college education will be obliterated for 3,100 youth arrivals in Iowa and 800,000 across our nation. There is no morality or justice in forcing youth raised in the United States to live in countries they do not know, separated from parents or other family members, without realistic opportunities for safe, legal paths for employment or adequate health care in their own homeland.

By Erin Gingrich and Erica Johnson for THE DES MOINES REGISTER
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