This statement was delivered on November 20, 2014 at a press teleconference with Church World Service on the Obama Administration’s planned action on immigration reform.
Thank you for the privilege of being on this call with immigrant rights leaders who have been working diligently and sacrificially for years for justice for immigrant families. Undocumented immigrant leaders have been the boldest among us. They have been willing to lift their voices in the public square and even in front of the White House and be arrested out of the moral conviction that they were called to risk it all so that immigrants across the U.S. would be treated humanely, and with justice. These immigrant leaders have pledged that they will work for immigration reform even if it costs them their own deportation. They have kept their promise to the immigrant community and those who stand with them. I pray that on this day President Obama will keep his promise to bring immigration reform to this country.
We are hearing that President Obama will tonight announce limited administrative relief for not even half of the hard working undocumented immigrants in the U.S. He is certainly under a great deal of pressure to not even do this much. But we urge President Obama to stretch the embrace of justice far and wide and give the world a witness of what can be done to welcome the immigrant among us.
We know that immigrants in our communities and in our congregations are ready to step up out of the shadows contributing to the cost of the processes for their legalization, but these costs must be fair. Immigrants are some of the hardest working people in this country yet they are also among the lowest paid. Immigration application fees must be set within their economic reach. We have seen this need as we have encouraged young people to apply for DACA. Many qualify but have not applied because they cannot afford the application cost.
Other immigrants have been affected by the unfair implementation of the present immigration policies. Some immigrants will be found to have a criminal record when the only offense they have committed is that of crossing the border without adequate documentation. A fair implementation of any administrative relief should take into consideration the circumstances of each individual’s life, with highest consideration being given to whether a person is making a positive contribution to the welfare of his or her community.
Today all across this country, immigrants are working hard to undergird the economy, they are serving in our armed forces, and are preparing to serve this country as teachers, doctors, nurses, business people and clergy persons. Immigrants are contributing to our communities and congregations through their commitment to family and faith, hard work and the common good. I join religious leaders from across the country in praying that President Obama will lead us in welcoming the immigrant. Communities of faith pledge to support him as he takes this step of justice.
Bishop Minerva G. Carcaño
Los Angeles Episcopal Area Resident Bishop
The United Methodist Church