Leaders from 20 faith traditions ― including the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.)’s Presbytery of New York City― have launched a statewide effort  to call on President Obama and the U.S. Congress to “enact comprehensive, just and humane reform of our nation’s immigration system.”   

The group of leaders was joined by Congressman Charles Rangel (C-NY) at a press conference last week for the campaign kick-off  and to reiterate his commitment to do his part in Congress to make just and humane immigration reform a reality.

The group calls itself the New York State Interfaith Network for Immigration Reform. It includes the Rev. Arabella Meadows-Rogers, executive presbyter for New York City Presbytery.

This week, the leaders ― representing Buddhist, Christian, Hindu, Jewish, Muslim and Sikh faith traditions ― will be meeting with members of Congress across New York State to discuss the need for immigration reform.

“Faith leaders have come together to make an important and unified call to fix our nation’s broken immigration system,” said Diane Steinman, co-coordinator of the network and executive director of the American Jewish Committee - New York Chapter. “We look to our faith traditions to call for a new immigration law that enables 12 million undocumented immigrants to earn legal status and eventual citizenship, and so come out of the shadows; that makes family unity a key priority; that provides due process protection and reforms detention policies; that protects workers from abuse; and that protects refugees and asylum seekers. Only through such reform will America live up to its promise of liberty and justice for all.”

Bishop Jeremiah Park of the United Methodist Church’s New York Conference affirmed the group’s call. “Communities are living in fear, families are being torn apart, and immigrants are being kept from contributing to our nation. We call for a humane and just law that lives up to the demand of our faith traditions to welcome the stranger,” said Park.

Imam Al-Hajj Talib ‘Abdur-Rashid of the Mosque of the Islamic Brotherhood said, “We of the Muslim community in America recognize that federal inertia creates local injustice. We are here in solidarity with other people of faith to stand for justice.” 

“Hope stirred in the hearts of my grandparents, a hope so powerful that it moved my grandparents to traverse dangerous borders, to board ships for a distant land,” said Rabbi Douglas E. Krantz, Rabbi of Congregation B’nai Yisrael of Armonk, NY. “That same hope stirs in the hearts of God’s good children in distant lands. We cannot criminalize hope for opportunity. We cannot criminalize hope for freedom.”

Information for this story furnished by Annie Rawlings, Presbytery of New York City.