Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Lutheran bishop calls for immigration reform

     CHICAGO (ELCA) - In Nov. 1 letters to President Barack Obama and members of Congress, the presiding bishop of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA) has called for comprehensive immigration reform and support for the DREAM Act (the Development, Relief and Education for Alien Minors Act), legislation that would provide a path for citizenship for undocumented high school graduates.

In his letter, the Rev. Mark S. Hanson wrote that the absence of reform has left several states to construct their own immigration laws, which are often "shortsighted and misguided."

"The ELCA needs your leadership," wrote Hanson, urging the president to engage Congress and U.S. citizens in the need for comprehensive immigration reform and to explore compassionate policy reforms that advance the common good.

Hanson is a member of the president's advisory council on Faith-based and Neighborhood Partnerships.

The 2011 ELCA Churchwide Assembly voted to support immigration reform and the DREAM Act. The churchwide assembly is the ELCA's highest legislative authority serving on behalf of the ELCA's 4.2 million members.

"The biblical call to hospitality (has) inspired Lutheran congregations across the country to discuss transforming communities into centers of hospitality through relationship building and advocacy," Hanson told the president. Hanson also added that ELCA congregations are working to lift up the experiences of undocumented youth and encourage broader public support for the legislation.

Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Service, one of the nation's leading agencies in welcoming and advocating for refugees and immigrants and based in Baltimore, works on behalf of the ELCA, The Lutheran Church--Missouri Synod and the Latvian Evangelical Lutheran Church in America. In addition, congregations of the ELCA and Lutheran social ministries provide critical services to migrant populations, spread the word of welcome and advocate for fair and humane immigration reform.

"As a national church body, the ELCA -- our congregations, bishops, schools and millions of individual members -- continue to preach, teach, advocate and work with and on behalf of (everyone)," Hanson wrote. "This nation has achieved such greatness due to the resilience, labor and intellect of immigrants. We will roll up our sleeves and work tirelessly until this nation is once again a place of welcome and justice for  newcomers."

The full text of Hanson's letter is available at

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