On April 10th, the Mall in Washington, DC will be the scene of a major rally urging the Senate to adhere to the principles embodied in the draft immigration reform bill set forth by the Judiciary Committee. Rallies in cities across the United States, coinciding with what is expected to be a push this week for final Senate action, continue to express support for key elements of the bill.
The bill before the Senate provides for a guest workers' program that anticipates permanent residence and citizenship for a considerably expanded number of visas for workers, along with a process for allowing some number of those in now in the country without status to seek permanent residence and citizenship. These were two controversial pieces of the Senate bill that advocates hope will survive the Senate debate and ultimately action by the entire Congress.
Episcopal Migration Ministries and the Church's Office of Government Relations have been contacting church leaders and church networks around the country, urging participation in the April 10th event either in Washington or in cities around the country where they have a presence.
Richard Parkins, EMM director, noted that "advocacy in favor of a balance immigration bill which acknowledges the rights of migrants workers including a pathway to citizenship has registered with many legislators on both sides of the aisle. The voices of faith communities have been vital to bringing the immigration debate to a point where there is a good chance of a just and fair bill emerging. Continuing to show support for such legislation is critically important as the process moves forward this week."
The bill offered by the chair of the Judiciary Committee, Republican Arlen Specter of Pennsylvania, faces amendments from those who want legislation that reflects an earlier House bill, which was characterized by an enforcement-only approach.
The Episcopal Church, along with partners from other denominations and traditions, has a policy that supports a more comprehensive immigration reform strategy. Parkins commented that the "work of the faith communities and the vigorous advocacy of immigrant groups across the country has made comprehensive immigration reform a national issue."