Pacific Presbytery

Immigration & the PC(USA)

What the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) Office says about immigration and issues surrounding the topic:

The General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) has an Office of Immigration Issues. The 222th General Assembly (2016) issued a resolution reaffirming the ministry of sanctuary by congregations

In addition, the PC(USA) has had a long standing history of supporting and creating policy around immigration. The General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) has issued statements and created policy on immigration for many years. Below are just a few of the General Assembly’s recent statements on immigration reform organized according to the major provisions of the Border Security, Economic Opportunity, and Immigration Modernization Act (S.B. 744).

Pathway to Citizenship

• Establishment of a comprehensive legalization program for undocumented persons already living and working in the United States – 216th General Assembly (2004)

• Create an opportunity for hard-working immigrants who are already contributing to this country to come out of the shadows, regularize their status upon satisfaction of reasonable criteria, and over time, pursue an option to become lawful permanent residents and U.S. citizens – 217th General Assembly (2006)

The DREAM Act

• Passage of the DREAM Act – 220th General Assembly (2012)

Border

• Border protection policies that are consistent with humanitarian values and with the need to treat all individuals with respect, while allowing authorities to carry out the critical task of identifying and prevent entry of terrorists and dangerous criminals – 217th General Assembly (2006)

Internal Enforcement

• Greater use of alternative to detention – 220th General Assembly (2012)

• Address the indiscriminate deportation of hundreds of thousands of persons through the merger of the criminal justice system and Immigration and Customs Enforcement – 220th General Assembly (2012)

Family

• Reform current immigration policies and procedures to ensure a more timely and humane process, with special attention to family reunification – 216th General Assembly (2004) • Reduce wait times for families to be reunited – 217th General Assembly (2006)

Backlogs

• Reform of current immigration policies with special attention to those persons who have been waiting for their immigrant visas – 216th General Assembly (2004)

• Reform family-based immigration system to significantly reduce waiting times for separated families who currently wait many hears to be reunited – 217th General Assembly (2006)

Integration

• Recognition that often people are fearful and insecure of entering into new friendships and the need of prayer, Biblical reflection, and encounters with newcomers in order to form a new community in Christ – 211th General Assembly (1999)

• Call the church to a time of “Being church together” in our worship and as a community – 220th General Assembly (2012)

• Facilitate integration of immigrants into communities by celebrating the culture and languages of homelands, providing civics education and legal assistance to regularize their status – 220th General Assembly (2012)

Future Flow

• Creation of legal avenues for workers and their families who wish to migrate to the U.S. to enter and work in a safe, legal, and orderly manner with their rights fully protected – 217th General Assembly (2006)

• Provide safe, legal, and realistic paths for future migration, consistent with the needs of the U.S. economy without undercutting the employment of those already present in the U.S. 220th General Assembly (2012)

There are many other provisions of the legislation that are in-line with General Assembly policy, including: improvements to detention standards, better treatment for adopted and stepchildren in the immigration process, improvements to the refugee/asylee program, and investments in the immigration court system.

SB 744 will head to the full Senate for debate in June 2013. Presbyterians are urged to contact their Senators and encourage them to support comprehensive immigration reform that has a pathway to citizenship, eliminates back logs, provides a commonsense plan for future flow, avoids the militarization of our southern border, and provides for humane enforcement.

The General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) has affirmed the right of congregations, presbyteries, and the denomination as a whole, to speak out clearly and constantly to the media and others regarding our call to serve all those in need and to stand with the oppressed. (217th General Assembly 2006). If you have questions about how to share your faith in the public square, please see the resources below.

  •  Comprehensive Immigration Reform Tool Kit from the office of Immigration Issues website to learn how to involve your community in the movement to seek justice for aspiring Americans. Available in English and Spanish: www.pcusa.org/immigration.
  • The office of Public Witness has created a packet to assist Presbyterians in contracting their elected representatives and can be Download Here.
  • Interfaith Immigration Coalition is a tool kit for visits with your congressional representatives.

Read more about Immigration Reform Debate and the General Assembly Policy HERE.

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