New Sanctuary Statement on Immigration Reform

We call for immigration reform that is inclusive of all people, regardless of gender, sexual orientation, age, education level, language, criminal history, economic status and immigration status. As an interfaith organization, we draw upon the powerful teachings of our faith traditions to love our neighbor, welcome the stranger and work for justice for all. Therefore, we recommend the following:

We support the pathway to citizenship for the 12 million undocumented immigrants in the US today, but immigration reform must provide a clear path to citizenship without insurmountable barriers (language requirements, background checks and fines) that make it impossible to become citizens.

Every day, the US deports over 1,000 people – causing severe trauma and emotional stress to individuals, families and communities. We call for an immediate end to deportations. To be a welcoming and just country, we need to fully embrace our neighbors.

We reject trigger mechanisms, whereby a pathway to legal status for undocumented immigrants could only be opened after additional border security measures are put in place. Spending on border security, enforcement and incarceration of migrants has already increased massively. There is no need to wait for an enforcement trigger mechanism before establishing a pathway to citizenship for undocumented immigrants in our country. The militarization of the border does not mean greater security, only increased deaths at the border. Our government should prioritize spending on education, healthcare, dignified work and housing over spending on incarceration and enforcement. We believe these budget decisions are moral decisions.

It should not take 20 years for a US citizen to bring their Mom to the U.S. We need to make more visas available to speed up the process of family unification. And comprehensive immigration reform must protect the right of all couples and families – including LGBT – to stay together.

We believe comprehensive immigration reform must recognize and address the exploitation of immigrant workers and enact humane and comprehensive protections for all immigrant workers through better enforcement of labor laws.

Any new worker visa program must provide for strict compliance with US labor standards and wage and hour standards, portability of visas so that workers can change jobs, and the ability for workers to petition for permanent residency. We are concerned over inclusion of a national E-Verify system. The current E-Verify system has been shown to be unreliable. Errors mean that millions of employment authorized immigrants could be denied work. E-Verify has proven ineffective, and enacting comprehensive immigration reform should not be contingent on expansion of a national E-Verify system.

We must begin to address the root causes of migration, such as destructive foreign and trade policies if we are going to have an honest conversation about immigration reform. We embrace our dignity and worth as human beings in one human family, which has built and continues to strengthen our communities.

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Immigrant led Community Organizing

Our staff manages our campaigns and programs while our members join our working committees to inform our programming, choose our campaigns, and plan our strategies to win. Through conversation and listening, our members and the community on the ground are the ones directing the organization. When people reach out to NSM, they connect with someone who speaks their language, looks like them, and is committed to empowering immigrant communities because they understand their journey and struggle. At NSM, our communities see their peers guiding our mission, creating trust, and allowing members to recognize NSM as an immigrant-led organization.
NSM works to lift the skills of the affected community and dismantle systems of oppression while promoting systems of mutual support, collective liberation, and respect for all people, which is why we provide interpretation services, respect childcare needs, schedule our sessions during times that work best for members who work multiple jobs or cannot meet in person, and allow members to inform us about their individual needs before meetings.
The community leads our work at every level to eliminate unnecessary barriers and meet the varied needs of our members.

Leadership Development

Our Leadership Development Program is a step in recruiting and training new leaders and training. The program blends the skills and experiences members bring from their home countries with NSM’s signature faith-rooted and anti-racist organizing model.

We have curricula for each level of membership, which includes workshops on the history of detention, community organizing, nonviolent protest, campaign strategy, and ongoing anti-racism training. Our programming encourages immigrant leaders to find their voice, understand the power of collective resistance, and join a community of immigrant leaders fighting for transformational systemic changes rooted in social and economic justice.

Leading this initiative is Bertha Murcia, one of NSM's Community Organizers. She is an alumna of NSM’s Promotoras de Justicia immigrant leadership program and oversees member engagement.

Build Community Power

NSM’s organizing efforts emphasize community building, inviting people to new roles, deepening Black and Brown solidarity, long-term leadership development, and impactful campaigns.

We build a base of people from our 33 congregations and Accompaniment Team and direct that people-power to fight specific campaigns. Staff members work with immigrant members to choose our campaigns, guide our strategies, lead events, and ensure our work is focused on meeting the needs of Philadelphia’s various immigrant communities.

Having a hands-on role in changing policy allows our members to gain a sense of empowerment, confidence, and self-respect. Empowering immigrants of color to organize collectively is part of NSM’s long haul work to create a people-powered movement for immigrant justice.