National Religious Leaders Respond to President’s Historic Action on Immigration

Catholic, Protestant, Evangelical, Jewish and Muslim leaders from across the religious community are responding to the President Obama announcement of temporary relief for millions of undocumented immigrants.

Selected quotes from national religious leaders:

Rev. Gradye Parsons, Stated Clerk, Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.):
“Tonight the prayers of millions have been answered. Soon many of our neighbors will no longer be at risk of deportation. Still, we lament for those who will not gain relief from this program. This church will stand with those that qualify for relief as they enter the process and we will also continue to stand with those still at risk of deportation by visiting them in detention, protecting them in our sanctuaries and by praying and pressing for broader and more lasting relief through comprehensive immigration reform.”

Rev. John L. McCullough, President and CEO, Church World Service:
“Our immigration system has been broken for far too long. The president has the full constitutional authority, and a moral obligation to keep families together and stop needless deportations. We applaud his historic leadership and we urge all members of Congress to support the implementation of this executive action. We celebrate alongside millions of our immigrant brothers and sisters who will be able to shed the fear of deportation and live anew. But we also remember the millions who are still in need of relief. As people of faith, we believe in the dignity of all people, in the unity of all families, and in the power of redemption, and that the implementation of this executive action should reflect those values.”

Sister Simone Campbell, Executive Director, NETWORK, A National Catholic Social Justice Lobby:
“We thank President Obama for his executive action to mitigate some of the worst impacts of our flawed immigration system. The suffering and pain within our immigrant communities has gone on for years. While it will take a few months to implement these new approaches, the president is doing what he can to address the problems of our broken system. But, as we rejoice tonight, we are also keenly aware that this is just a small step toward fixing a deeply flawed system that harms our communities, our economy and our nation as a whole. We call on Congress to fulfill its duty to the 100% and pass comprehensive immigration reform.”

Rev. David Beckmann, President, Bread for the World:
“We applaud President Obama’s decision to craft improvements within his authority to our confused and unnecessarily harsh immigration system. The president’s action is controversial and has important implications for our political parties.  So we also want to acknowledge those Republican leaders in Congress who are trying to respond in a way that does not disrupt this year’s appropriations process. Our support of the president’s action is not about partisan politics.  It’s about millions of families who will have some respite from worry and new opportunities to work their way out of poverty. It is about our faith; the Bible is clear on how we should treat immigrants.  It is one piece of our commitment to opportunity for all people.”

Rev. Linda Jaramillo Executive Minister Justice and Witness Ministries, United Church of Christ:
“Leaders from throughout the United Church of Christ have been working hard to change our broken immigration policies for years. We have advocated, held vigils, marched, fasted and joined in civil disobedience to stop the deportations and stop family separations. We are deeply heartened that the President’s executive action reflects the call to hospitality and welcome that is at the heart of our faith traditions and is a core American value. We applaud the President for this historic move to do the morally right thing and provide relief from deportation for 5 million people. In the absence of congressional responsibility to address immigration reform, the President’s action was essential to address this critical national issue. We will continue to pray and walk alongside our immigrant brothers and sisters who are not eligible and commit to advocating for an inclusive implementation process.”

Rev. Jim Wallis, President and Founder, Sojourners:
“Millions of families will no longer live under the daily threat of having their lives torn apart by senseless deportations, which is something all Christians – whether Republican or Democrat – should celebrate. Many of our brothers and sisters in Christ, who have spent significant portions of their lives hiding in the shadows, can now enjoy the flourishing God intends for us all. Their joy and well-being must inform our judgments of the president’s action, especially in light of the biblical call to ‘welcome the stranger.’ ”

Rabbi Steve Gutow, President, Jewish Council for Public Affairs:
“Today, millions of our neighbors and community members have the security and certainty that they will be able to stay with their families – at least temporarily– without the fear of deportation,” said, “but no Presidential action can fix our broken immigration system.  We reaffirm our commitment to a comprehensive, legislative solution.  Congress has the ultimate power and must act.  In Leviticus 19:34, we are commanded ‘You must love the stranger as yourself, for you were strangers in the land of Egypt.’  We must remember our tradition, teachings, and history as we work towards making the future brighter for all those who wish to build a home in the United States.”

Saif Inam, Muslim Public Affairs Council Policy Analyst:
“The President’s executive actions highlight the desperation of our current immigration climate. These actions are a direct result of delays and political brinkmanship that have delayed our legislative branch from passing comprehensive immigration reform. We hope that Congress acts to address our immigration system in a comprehensive, long-lasting, and humane way.”

Mark Hetfield, President & CEO, HIAS:
“President Obama’s action is not just good for those who will directly benefit, it is good for the country. Throughout our history, immigrants and refugees have contributed to our economy, culture and communities in countless ways. It is no different now. Our immigration system has been broken for decades while immigrants have lived with daily fear of being deported. Today, the President has shown his commitment to addressing this injustice.”

Sister Anne Curtis, Institute Leadership Team, Sisters of Mercy:
“I am elated that President Obama expanded deferred action on deportations to include undocumented parents.  No longer will millions of children fear the loss of their mothers or fathers to deportations. The President’s action is recognition that families need to be kept together and that the system of mass deportations harms entire communities, destroys families and causes long-term negative consequences for millions of American children. This is an action worth celebrating, but our work is not done just yet, as we continue to push Congress to pass comprehensive immigration reform.”