Posts Tagged ‘faith’

House Votes to Extend Religious Worker and Rural Doctor Visa Programs

In legislation on March 5, 2009 at 5:02 pm

Yesterday, the House passed a measure (H.R. 1127) which would extend special religious worker and rural doctor visa programs until the end of fiscal year 2009. Both programs were set to expire tomorrow (March 6) with the rest of the continuing resolution package.

The non-ministerial religious worker program enables up to 5,000 religious workers–missionaries, counselors, teachers, instructors, etc–to enter the United States each year.

The rural doctor program waives regular J-1 visa requirements, allowing foreign-born graduates of U.S. medical schools to work beyond two-years after graduation if they work in underserved rural areas of the United States (the J-1 visa requires that foreign-born medical school graduates leave the U.S. within two years after graduation).

Neither of these bills are controversial and received broad bi-partisan support. However, advocates attempts at extending the programs for five years failed due to the broader fight over immigration and the extension of the E-Verify/Basic Pilot program.


Prayer, Renewal, Action

In community impact on February 20, 2009 at 7:48 pm

Throughout this week, over 150 communities nationwide have joined together to pray for humane immigration reform in the 111th Congress.

In a campaign sponsored by the Interfaith Immigration Coalition (of which we–FCNL–are members), participants in these vigils are calling for:

1. Protection for immigrants and their families
2. Empowerment of the faith community to advocate on behalf of immigrants
3. Moral courage for Congress to take the necessary leadership to see that humane comprehensive immigration reform is passed


As my colleague with the United Methodist Church, Bill Mefford, said: “This tremendous response by people of faith is due to seeing the devastation of raids on immigrant families and local communities and the need for Congress to have the moral courage to enact just and humane comprehensive immigration reform.”

Bishop Carcaño, who was in town last week for the Interfaith Immigration Coalition’s press conference launching the Interfaith Platform on Humane Immigration Reform, followed by saying that “prayer is a powerful, fundamental aspect of our faith. When nothing else has changed hearts and changed minds in the past, prayer has been that changing factor. I believe in the power of prayer.”

And seeing the impact and coverage these vigils have brought to the issue of comprehensive immigration reform in the last week, I’d be inclined to believe her. Not even 3/4 of the vigils have taken place, but here is a hint at what sort of impact they’re having:

TV Coverage
Good Morning Arizona Phoenix, AZ [Updated 2/23/2009]
ABC15 News at 5 am Phoenix, AZ [Updated 2/23/2009]
12 News at 10 pm Phoenix, AZ [Updated 2/23/2009]
ABC 15 News at 10 pm Phoenix, AZ [Updated 2/23/2009]
3 TV News at 9 Sunday Phoenix, AZ [Updated 2/23/2009]

News 10 NBC Today Rochester, NY
News 10 NBC Today at Eleven Rochester, NY
Fox 4 at 9 pm Kansas City, MO
NBC 17 News at 6 Raleigh- Durnam, NC
ABC 11 Eyewitness News at 5 Raleigh-Durnam, NC
Fox 4 at 12 Noon Kansas City, MO
WRAL TV News at Noon Raleigh-Durnam, NC
ABC 11 Eyewitness News at Noon Raleigh-Durnam, NC
News 8 Update Dallas, TX
Channel 2 Action News Atlanta, GA
CBS Atlanta News at 11 Atlanta, GA

News Coverage
Newsday: Prayer Vigil Focuses on Immigration Reform [Updated 2/23/2009]

Ashville Citizen Times: Immigration Vigil Focuses on Reform
[Updated 2/23/2009]

Jackson Clarion Ledger: Immigration Prayer Vigil Set for Carthage
[Updated 2/23/2009]

Waterloo Courier- A Prayer from Postville: Vigil Urges Reform of Immigration Laws
[Updated 2/23/2009]

Iowa Independent: Calls for Immigration Reform Continue in Postville [Updated 2/23/2009]

Decorah Journal: Renewed Hope [Updated 2/23/2009]

Bradenton Herald: Church to Hold Vigil for Migrants [Updated 2/23/2009]

Waco Tribune: Local News Briefs [Updated 2/23/2009]

El Diario La Prensa: Oran por reforma migratoria [Updated 2/23/2009]

Dallas Morning News: From Dallas church, people pray for ‘humane and just’ immigration reform

Idaho Press Tribune: Vigil will focus on immigration

Aurora Sentinel: Faith calls together crowd for immigration vigil

Rochester Democrat and Chronicle: Interfaith church vigil calls for immigration reform

WHEC News: Immigration reform prayer service

ABC 11 News: Immigration supporters pray for change

North Carolina News Network: Prayer For An End To Immigration Raids

Raleigh News & Observer: Prayer vigil focuses on immigration

WRAL News: Raleigh joins national vigil for immigration reform

Omaha World Herald: Bishops take on immigrant policies

Virginian Pilot: Religious group to host immigration talk in Va. Beach

Alter Net: Religious Leaders Help Shape Immigration Debate

Christian Post: Faith Leaders Re-Ignite Immigration Debate

The Hill: Immigration reform advocates push forward in tough economy

Decorah Journal: Postville prayer vigil Thursday

MSNBC: Immigration reform prayer service

Jersey Journal: Immigration vigil tonight

Catholic News Agency: Nebraska bishops use input from laity to tackle immigration reform

Columbus Telegram: Bishops urge care with immigrants

Cary News: Cary immigration reform group holds training session

Great Falls Tribune: Immigration bill targets illegal workers

San Diego Union Tribune: Bilingual workshop set to help with immigration

Annapolis Capital: Immigrants march to protest Va. county’s policies

The Interfaith Immigration Coalition Announces Campaign for Action on Immigration Reform

In Uncategorized on February 11, 2009 at 9:59 pm

Today, my colleagues from the Interfaith Immigration Coalition and I held a press conference down at the Capitol officially announcing our Interfaith Platform on Humane Immigration Reform and our new campaign “Prayer, Renewal and Action on Immigration.”

The press conference had an impressive list of speakers: Congressman Gutierrez, Congressman Honda, Sister Eileen Campbell (Sisters of Mercy), Bishop Minerva Carcaño (United Methodist Church), Rabbi David Ssaperstein (Reform Judaism), Jim Wallis (leading evangelical voice, President and CEO of Sojourners), and John Crestwell (Unitarian Universalist). And while I expected the conference to be good, I didn’t expect to be quite as moved by what people said.

First, Congressman Gutierrez gave an impassioned speech about the need for comprehensive immigration reform, speaking specifically about family unity. He said, “Respecting family values should be fundmental to our nation’s laws, but instead, across America families are torn apart by a system that values quotas over parents and their children or husbands or wives.”

Then, Congressman Honda talked about the legacy of the Japanese internment camps and how our current system reflects a racial profiling that we had once sworn “never again” to.

The faith leaders then spoke about peoples of faith call to welcome the stranger and love our neighbor as ourself. Some highlights from the press release are:

“The often politicized and divisive debate around immigration calls for a deeper dialogue shaped by our best religious values of compassion, mercy, justice, and tolerance…The faith community has a clear responsibility in leading this conversation and helping those who are most vulnerable due to their immigration status.”
~ Reverent Jim Wallis

“Our nation’s soul is at risk. Families are being torn apart. Human rights are being denied. Comprehensive immigration reform is needed now. We recognize an urgent duty and challenge to stand in solidarity with immigrants, refugees, and trafficked persons seeking fullness of life, and to act as a voice for those whose needs get lost in the political debate.”
~ Sister Eileen Campbell

“We read in the Torah more frequently than any other commandment that we should love the stranger as ourselves, love our neighbor as ourselves. Leviticus says, ‘The strangers who sojourn with you shall be to you as the natives among you, and you shall love them as yourself; for you were strangers in the land of Egypt.’ And who was the ger or the ger toshav, which we interpret as ‘the stranger’? It was the resident alien, the person who came to Israel, lived in Israel, worked and participated in the life of Israel, but did not convert to Judaism. Is that not exactly the status of the immigrant in America today?”
~Rabbi David Saperstein

“As the suffering of immigrants and their families grows every day, we as people of faith long to bring healing to them and this land. As with people of all faiths, United Methodists stand with our immigrant brothers and sisters. Immigration reform that is just and humane is the only way to bring healing to our land.”
~Bishop Minerva Cacaño

“When we move toward a day where our words and deeds embrace instead of erase we will witness Beloved Community. Immigration legislation must be humane and written in light of our common humanity. We are interconnected and interrelated.”
~John Crestwell

Then finally, in response to a question asked about whether or not we believed we had the political clout to bring about immigration reform in the first year, Jim Wallis replied: “At the end of his campaign Obama said that now we must create the winds of change that will push him along. But winds of change are already blowing in the faith community with regards to immigration. We are clearing the way.”