During the holiday season, it’s nearly impossible to ignore the importance of family. Yet while many of us spent the holiday season celebrating and reconnecting with loved ones, we couldn’t avoid the fact that so many others in Cincinnati didn’t spend the season with their families — immigrants who are unable to reunite with families because of how utterly broken our immigration system has become.
I am reminded each Sunday as I lead services that family values transcend immigration status and country of origin.
Scripture teaches us to love our neighbor, describing stories of immigrants like Abraham or Ruth, people cast out of their native regions, seeking refuge in foreign places. It is in these teachings and stories that we find parallels with today’s immigrants living all around our country and in our own communities.
Sadly, though, our dysfunctional immigration policy and lack of action by Congress results in countless children in Ohio spending the holidays without a mother or a father.
These families are not alone. I hear stories from around the community about breadwinners who worry they will be deported. Mothers and fathers speak about their fear of losing their children or forcing their kids to leave the United States, the only home they have ever known. My congregation, just like thousands of others across the country, is afraid.
We can no longer let this type of fear divide our communities. We must call on Congress to act and keep our communities and families together.
Faith groups nationwide are uniting in a new, unprecedented grassroots movement rooted in a theological and moral ground. In December, leaders of diverse faith communities launched a national postcard campaign. This month, members of Congress will receive hundreds of thousands of postcards from people of faith urging them to pass immigration reform that unites families rather than tearing them apart.
Secretary of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano recently reaffirmed the Obama administration’s commitment to enacting comprehensive immigration reform in early 2010. Now is the time for leaders from Ohio to stand up for a pragmatic, sensible approach that restores our values of compassion and lawfulness over the disorder and inaction that have won out in recent years.
It is up to us and our leaders in Congress to make sure our immigrant neighbors do not celebrate future holiday seasons afraid and alone.
The Rev. Jim Schutte is priest at St. Leo Catholic Church in Fairmount and is a member of The AMOS Project, a Tristate coalition of 30 churches dedicated to promoting social justice and reducing poverty.