On the 6th day of our 40 Day Fast, the Senate passed their bill for comprehensive immigration reform. We are encouraged by the bill’s pathway to citizenship, better worker protections and the ability of people to work, drive and travel while during the Provisional Status. But we condemn other parts of it, most notably the Corker-Hoeven amendment. This amendment adds $46 billion to militarize the border, doubles the amount of soldiers on the border to 40,000, increases the use of high tech surveillance, including drones, and would complete 700 miles of fencing. This unprecedented escalation of enforcement on the border will do nothing to stem the flow of migration. It will, however, force more people farther out into the desert to face an awful death. It will also direct an absurd amount of resources to build a fence at a time we desperately need investment in our communities. This is stealing money from what people need: education, health care, housing and dignified work. We believe this is immoral. We also condemn the requirement in the amendment that prevents anyone from receiving permanent residency until these steps are implemented. A pathway to citizenship that takes 13 years was already too long, and this addition is unfair and unjust.
We are deeply concerned that the bill would exclude 3-5 million people from the pathway to citizenship. One of the strict requirements included in the bill would disqualify someone during the 10 year Provisional Status if they fell below 125% of the poverty line or if they were unemployed for longer than 60 days.
The militarized border and the provisions that exclude half the undocumented population are a direct violation of our call to be welcoming, loving and just people. In a series of conversations with our members, people were upset and angry over these details that violate our dearest values and hurt our communities. But our values also call us to continue the fight for a reform that is welcoming, just and dignified.
We believe we have a choice right now – as individuals, as a community and as a country; to be open to be closed. The Senate has made the choice to be closed. Giving in to fears of the other, fears of safety and fears of losing power as the dominant race has lead the Senate to close their hearts and close our country. We believe this is feeding into the worst of humanity. But we can still make the choice to be open. In the first week of our 40 Days of Action, Fasting and Prayer, the fasting has taught us to open our hearts to each other and to God. It is a risk, but we have learned there is a greater love that we can all live by. We believe opening ourselves to this greater, active love is transforming and radical.
Our 40 Days of Action, Fasting and Prayer is an experiment with the spiritually rooted nonviolence we find in our faith traditions and enacted by leaders like Mahatma Gandhi and Dr Martin Luther King Jr. This nonviolence calls us let God’s love work through us. This love is active and powerful, and moves us to love our neighbor and those who oppose us. So as we move forward in the fight for humane and just immigration reform, we commit to put this love into action and fight for a country that dares to open its hearts and doors to our global neighbors.