June 25, 2013

CWS Urges All Senators: Vote "Yes" for Immigration Reform

Immigration Reform: Rev. Noel Andersen
Rev. Noel Andersen of Church World Service speaking at a prayer service for immigration reform. Photo: Jim Coates

Moment arrives for Senate vote on legislation after years of advocacy and organizing

As the U.S. Senate comes to a final vote on the bipartisan immigration reform bill S. 744, The Border Security, Economic Opportunity, and Immigration Modernization Act, Church World Service urges Senators to vote “yes” in support of the historic legislation.

“Our undocumented community members have waited decades for this unprecedented moment,” said CEO and President of Church World Service, the Rev. John L. McCullough. “After months of negotiation, this is a bipartisan bill that all Senators can get behind. Faith communities are counting on the Senate to fix our broken immigration system, and we will continue to work with the House of Representatives to make this legislation the law of the land.”

The bill is likely to come to a vote on Thursday and includes key provisions that CWS has long-advocated for: a roadmap to citizenship, family reunification and increased protections for refugees.

“Voting ‘yes’ on comprehensive immigration reform is the right thing to do for American families across our country,” noted McCullough. “If this bill passes the full Congress, hundreds of thousands of families will be able to reunite and stay together after the pain of more than 1.4 million deportations in the past four years alone.”

A recent Congressional Budget Office report highlighted the positive economic impact of immigration reform. The report estimates that the Senate legislation will reduce federal deficits by about $197 billion in the next 10 years, and about $748 billion in the second decade. In addition, the report states that the S. 744 bill will strengthen Social Security and increase wages due to the economic growth from fixing our broken immigration system.

The Senate bill comes after years of advocacy by people of faith, refugee resettlement offices, labor and business groups, immigrant networks, border communities and impacted individuals from across the political spectrum. McCullough added, “Now is the time for us to make our voices heard. We call upon our congregations and partners to call their Senators every day this week and to urge their support until the Senate passes immigration reform.”

Although CWS does not support the additional border security provisions added to the Senate bill, and remains opposed to the changes regarding siblings and married children over 31, CWS does support the overall bill.

"We recognize that this legislation will reunite separated families, create a pathway to citizenship and improve the lives of refugees," said McCullough. "While the bill is not perfect, it is certainly an improvement from the status quo. This is an opportunity to make life better for our undocumented community members, and we ask every Senator to vote YES."

Although immigration reform will certainly face challenges in the House, CWS will work with Representatives, the conference committee, and the administration to see that the final legislation and its implementation take into account the needs of families and border communities. CWS will also continue to advocate for immigrants' rights on national, state and local levels, as this is a great step forward, but not the end of the road to justice.

CWS has a long history of serving refugees and immigrants, and is one of nine organizations working with the State Department to resettle refugees in United States. CWS advocates for immigration reform as part of its mission to build stronger, more welcoming communities.