OnIslam: US Faiths Demand Immigration Reform

CAIRO – Pressing for a system that protects family ties, Muslim, Evangelical and Jewish leaders have appealed for a comprehension immigration reform in the United States.

“Social justice is a core belief in the Islamic faith, especially for those in a position of weakness,” Ahmed Rehab, executive director of Chicago chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), told Chicago Sun Times.

“We’re encouraged to stand by them.”

The Senate is set to debate a bipartisan bill on immigration reform in the United States.

The legislation creates a 13-year route to citizenship for an estimated 11 million immigrants currently living in the United States illegally.

It creates a low-skilled guest-worker program, expands the number of visas available for high-tech workers and de-emphasizes family ties in the system for legal immigration that has been in place for decades.

Rehab was among scores of representatives of different faiths who gathered outside the US Immigration Detention Center in Broadview, Illinois, to press for immigration reform.

The Muslim activist appealed to US lawmakers to introduce compassionate immigration reform that protects family ties.

“Families are broken; individuals are devastated,” said Rehab, who has given more than 100 speeches on the issue in the past few years.

“They’re just human beings trying to make it. They’re arrested and deported without any account for who they leave behind or how their lives are affected.”

Next to the Muslim activist, dozens of religious leaders and congregants from various faiths echoed calls for immigration reform.

The effort is the latest in a vocal and active campaign for religious leader pushing for compassionate comprehensive immigration reform.

The campaign included Evangelicals making $250,000 ad buys, praying protesters outside US deportation facilities and Muslim leaders and other interfaith groups holding press conferences to support the issue.

“I think in any biblically-based religion whether its Judaism or Christianity, you’ll see over and over again commandments that we treat the immigrant with compassion, that we have one law for all who dwell in the land whether they are citizens or strangers,” said Rabbi Brant Rosen of Jewish Reconstructionist Congregation in Evanston.

“I find it very difficult to call yourself someone who cherishes biblical tradition and mistreat immigrants.”

Wilfredo De Jesus, pastor of the evangelical New Life Covenant Church, which has 17,000 members in the Chicago area, will travel to Washington, DC, next month to advocate for reform.

At his church, leaders and members have provided aid to family members left behind and hurt by deportations.

“Families for us is a God institution,” said Veronica Ocasio, chief of staff at New Life.

“We understand there have to be laws to keep our country safe, but at the same time, [reform] should be done in a manner that respects the family unit.”