January 28, 2013

CWS Supports Bipartisan Framework on Immigration Reform

Immigrants with banner
Young people march for immigration reform at a rally in Washington, D.C. Photo: Carol Fouke

Washington, D.C. -- Church World Service welcomes the Bipartisan Framework for Comprehensive Immigration Reform released today by Senators Schumer (D-NY), McCain (R-AZ), Durbin (D-IL), Graham (R-SC), Menendez (D-NJ), Rubio (R-FL), Bennet (D-CO) and Flake (R-AZ). These Senators will address the framework in a press conference scheduled for 2:30pm EST today.

The framework would create a pathway to citizenship for individuals who are currently undocumented, including undocumented youth or ‘DREAMers’. For years, CWS has advocated for immigrants’ rights, and applauds these Senators for moving in the right direction to enact immigration reform in 2013.

CWS president and CEO Rev. John L. McCullough, commented on this proposal, “As an organization that serves refugees and all immigrants, CWS affirms that legislation based on this framework could have far-reaching positive impacts on the lives of those who, but for mere papers, are Americans in heart and contribution. Our immigrant brothers and sisters are an intrinsic part of our communities. We worship together, work together, build community together, our children learn together, and we pledge allegiance to the same flag together. We have a Biblical call to welcome the stranger and love our neighbor, and legislation based on this framework could help us, as a nation, fulfill that call.”

CWS is particularly pleased that the Senate framework calls for reduced wait times for family reunification and would create a pathway to citizenship for those who are undocumented, including separate provisions for DREAMers and agricultural workers. Provisions to improve the visa process for employment- and family-based visas, and to instill greater accountability and community consultation in border policies, also signal improvements.

Erol Kekic, director of the CWS Immigration and Refugee Program, said “We affirm the framework’s recognition of the important role immigration plays in the U.S. economy and in the fabric of families and communities across the United States. These are some of the strongest provisions to be addressed in the Senate, and CWS is proud to be part of this historical moment.”

As CWS celebrates this bipartisan framework, the organization is also eager to see detailed legislative language, and is opposed to the border and interior enforcement provisions that have proven detrimental to communities. CWS is opposed to making any part of the path to citizenship contingent upon border enforcement criteria and the implementation of a new visa tracking system, which could take years, if not decades to complete and leave those seeking permanent legal status in limbo. CWS is also concerned about the inaccuracies of an electronic employment verification system and how it could impact the pathway to citizenship, as well as provisions that would restrict immigrants from accessing important services. There are also provisions that are not addressed in this framework, such as the ability for permanent partners to be reunited, that CWS would like to see included in legislation.

“CWS looks forward to working with senators and representatives across the political spectrum to address these issues, as we are committed to seeing immigration reform enacted in 2013,” said Kekic. “CWS, along with our member communions and refugee resettlement offices around the country, will continue to work closely with Congress and the Administration to lift up the importance of family unity and a pathway to citizenship in immigration reform.”

Tomorrow, in Las Vegas, President Obama is set to release his blueprint on immigration reform, showing the necessary leadership from the executive branch on this critical issue. CWS board member Rev. Patricia de Jong will be in attendance.