Interfaith Support for Immigration Reform
This week the 2011-2012 Supreme Court term is drawing to a close, and the Court is announcing its decision on many issues of concern to social justice advocates. On Monday the Court ruled on two significant policies, one of which was a controversial immigration law in Arizona, the other of which bars states from sentencing juveniles to life without the opportunity for parole.
The immigration case before the Supreme Court was based on a law passed in Arizona 2 years ago, SB 1070. The legislation does a variety of things, including making it a misdemeanor for undocumented individuals to be present in Arizona, or to seek employment. The Court found that these aspects of the law were unconstitutional because they preempted the federal government’s responsibility to create and enforce national immigration policies.
However, the Supreme Court left one piece of the law intact, which allows state law enforcement officers to check the immigration status of an individual while enforcing other laws, if they have a “reasonable suspicion” that the individual is undocumented. The Court warned however, that the implementation of this part of the law could be brought back to the court if it results in racial profiling. How Arizona law enforcement officers carry out policy remains to be seen, and there are serious concerns about the likelihood that the policy will result in racial profiling.
This ruling highlights the complex immigration crises that our nation is facing. Congress has been unable to pass comprehensive immigration reform, and so in recent years states have attempted to create their own policies. Thankfully, advocates in Virginia have largely prevented pernicious legislation like that seen in Arizona, Alabama and Georgia. The Court’s decision this week rules the state by state approach as largely invalid. But we lack national policies that appropriately address the needs and concerns of the 11 million undocumented people currently within our borders.
People from a variety of faiths are increasingly concerned about how this nation “welcomes the strangers” in our midst. Many of us, across the religious spectrum, are united in opposing pernicious measures - at the state and federal level- that separate families unnecessarily, penalize children for their parents’ decisions, or eliminate basic health and education benefits for those here without proper documentation. With the Supreme Court’s decision, the need for comprehensive reform at the national level is clearer than ever before. As people of faith, we stand united in calling on our elected officials to work together to pass comprehensive immigration reform that preserves the God-given dignity of every person within our borders. Join with us, by signing our Interfaith Statement of Support for Compassionate Immigration Policies.