Faith leaders praying at the White House
(MCC Photo/Agnes Chen)

Faith leaders praying and protesting at the White House on President's Day, February 17, 2014, urging President Obama to halt deportations.

When I came to Washington and began my internship at the beginning of February, I was new to the immigration conversation. In just two months of researching and working on issues surrounding immigration, I have encountered too many stories about unnecessary family separation to be able to simply write them off as anecdotal outliers. This is not a call for trite emotional sympathy. Our country has an immediate and real humanitarian, economic, and judicial crisis.

May we better heed Jesus’ call to love our neighbors as we seek shalom in the public policy of our nation.

Stories of mothers and fathers with no criminal record being deported, and stories of startlingly inhumane detention and deportation processes are all too common. Inherent in our immigration system is an absence of opportunity combined with a reckless and inhumane enforcement policy resulting in record numbers of deportations.

Rather than addressing even the common sense, non-partisan issues surrounding detention and deportation practices, let alone comprehensive reform, members of Congress have spent the spring creating ways to blame their inaction on the President. As a taxpayer and an engaged citizen, I have been appalled at the lengths our representatives will go to in order to undermine the credibility and effectiveness of members of the opposite party. Immigrants’ lives are being used as pawns in a game of political brinksmanship.

I struggle to take seriously many other claims of our members of Congress when viewed in the context of the current immigration conversation. I cannot take representatives seriously when they suggest spending more than $14 billion dollars a year on deporting contributing, taxpaying members of our communities than they spend on fighting human trafficking. I cannot take them seriously when they denounce this administration for “not enforcing the laws,” when they pass border security bills that suspend 36 laws, including some of our most vital environmental laws such as the Clean Air Act and Safe Drinking Water Act. I cannot take them seriously about deficit reduction when it has been shown that immigration reform will reduce the deficit by $197 billion over the next decade and another $700 billion the decade after that.

I cannot take the Obama administration seriously about their “priority” for deporting those who pose a risk to their community when 82 percent of those held by local police for suspected immigration violations have not been convicted of a crime beyond a petty offense. And I cannot take seriously any policymaker’s commitment to the vitality of the family structure when more than 5000 children are now in the U.S. foster care system due to their parents being deported.

However, there is still reason to hope. After all, we are a people defined by an unfathomable hope. There is an incredibly broad swath of organizations, including many faith-based organizations, calling on our government to act for more just, humane, and effective immigration policy. You can join the diversity of voices calling for justice too! Take a few minutes to call on the president and Congress to take seriously the incompetency and injustice of our broken immigration system. Your voice will make a difference. May we better heed Jesus’ call to love our neighbors as we seek shalom in the public policy of our nation.

Printed with permission from Third Way Café.