Resurrecting Immigration Reform in an Election Year
Gabriel and Jeanette Salguero, pastors at The Lamb’s Church in New York City, spoke at Bread for the World’s 2011 Gathering at American University on Sunday, June 12, 2011. (Rick Reinhard)
“Our broken immigration system is breaking apart families,” Rev. Gabriel Salguero told listeners during the April 15 national grassroots conference call and webinar.
Rev. Salguero stressed that it is urgent that the House of Representatives take up–and pass–immigration reform this year. Salguero, a leading voice in the call to reform U.S. immigration policy, is president of the National Latino Evangelical Coalition (NaLEC).
Bread for the World believes immigration reform will reduce hunger and poverty. We ask Bread advocates to urge their representatives to pass legislation this year. The Senate has already passed a bill, but legislation continues to stall in the House.
“Inaction is not an option,” Rev. Salguero told advocates. Outdated immigration policy leaves millions of undocumented people in the shadows, where hunger and poverty persists. Roughly a third of the estimated 11 to 12 million people living and working in the United States without documentation live below the poverty line. Deportations rip families apart. DREAMers–the 1.8 million young people brought to the United States as children–live in fear of being banished from the country that is their home.
Addressing the likelihood of moving an immigration bill during an election year, Salguero noted that the last time immigration legislation passed, there were midterm elections. However, advocates must build the momentum for action. “We use leverage at the local level – such as town hall meetings,” said Salguero, “Tell Congress the faith community wants a vote.”
When Congress returns from the Easter recess next week, there are several urgent issues that need attention in order for progress to be made in the exodus from hunger: budget appropriations, an unemployment extension, a minimum wage bill, food-aid reform, and immigration reform should all be given high priority by leadership.
In June, immigration reform will take center stage at this year’s National Gathering. Presenters include Rev. Salguero and immigration-rights leader Gaby Pacheco. Attendees to the Washington D.C. conference will also spend a day on Capitol Hill telling lawmakers that immigration reform is the moral thing to do and the time to act is now.
A conversation about immigration reform and inaction by Congress so close to Easter had particular poignancy to Rev. Salguero, who told webinar participants, “It is time to resurrect the conversation about immigration reform.”
On the third Tuesday of each month, in an effort to best serve our grassroots and give them a legislative update, the organizing and government relations departments at Bread for the World host a conference call and webinar. The next call will take place on May 13.
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