Christian leaders in Cedar Rapids, Iowa have come together to ask politicians to take into account the human rights aspect of the current immigration system and consider a humanitarian reform. It was pointed out by these leaders, that with the current presidential race underway immigration has become a hot topic amongst the candidates. To date, the Republic candidates have all attacked the issue of immigration and portrayed it in a negative light. To counter the negativity, these Christian leaders are hoping to draw on Pope Francis’ recent visit to the United States and call for a compassionate approach to the topic.
During the Pope’s visit, he spoke of immigration and human rights issues on many occasions, directing one of his homilies toward the plight of Syrian refugees, leaving behind all they owned, and fleeing their homeland in order to seek refuge in Europe.
The faith leaders seek to remind the candidates for president, that immigrants have much to offer the country on many levels. They sought to remind politicians that the country was founded on the European settlers who fled England in order to establish this great nation. The religious leaders went on to call the support for a compassionate immigration reform a “moral obligation.” They believe it is the obligation of lawmakers to assist these individuals and families who are present in the United States for many years, have contributed to society, raised families and have formed community ties.
It is obvious that the current immigration system in the United States is not working and considered by most to be broken. It is sometimes difficult for undocumented individuals to even determine what if anything benefit they might be eligible for in the realm of immigration. Immigrants are often afraid to come forward to seek help due to the fear of deportation. Illegal workers are often victimized by unethical employees who threaten to call authorities if they complain about their substandard pay and working conditions.
The coming together in Iowa of these faith leaders is a new approach to a very topical subject. They have joined together and acknowledged that they don’t intend to leave out Jews or Muslims in their united plea for a “call for action.” The leaders have recognized that immigration is important for many religions and for many reasons.
The National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference, the largest Hispanic Christian evangelical organization in the U.S., initially sponsored a summit in Washington D.C., called the Faith Voices for Immigrants Summit. The Iowa faith leaders have sought to mold their model for immigration on that summit.
Admittedly, the leaders agree that immigration is not always a religious issue, however, with Pope Francis’ recent visit as well as his comments on immigration, the leadership is trying to tie the two together. The basic human rights of individuals, including the right to migrate come from religious teachings in all of the major religions, that all people are created equally. The Christian religion teaches tolerance and the leaders are relying on that teaching to promote their ideology regarding immigration.