Support Immigration Reforms and Citizenship Path for Immigrants

After decades of missed opportunities, Congress is on the verge of passing immigration reforms, including a pathway to earn citizenship. Urge a principled approach based on fairness and compassion.

Immigrants make up a significant share of the U.S. population, accounting for just below 14% of the total population. While many immigrants in the U.S. have some form of legal status, an estimated 11 million do not—individuals without legal status are sometimes referred to as undocumented. For many, there is not yet a viable path to adjust status and obtain permanent residency and citizenship.

Legal status affects everything from the ability to obtain a driver’s license to access for federal means-tested public benefits, diminishing the opportunity for individuals to live into their God-given dignity and potential. While recognizing the rule of law, the ELCA social message “Immigration” urges “leaders and citizens to seek flexible and humane ways for undocumented persons who have been in this country for a specified amount of time to be able to adjust their legal status."

President Biden has called on Congress to enact a sweeping immigration bill that would, among many other things, establish a path for eligible undocumented people to adjust their status and apply for citizenship within a few years. Immigration reform is a priority for Congress this year since the House and Senate are each expected to consider a variety of immigration bills in the coming months. This leaves an unmistakable opportunity to affect policy changes to our nation’s immigration laws.

Policy must reflect life’s realities.

  • Immigration status affects the family:  5 million children under 17 have a parent who is undocumented; most are themselves U.S. citizens. 16.7 million people nationwide live with a family member who is undocumented. The impact and outcome of immigration policies have become inseparable from the family unit and wider community.
  • Immigrants are more than their labor: Immigrants, including those with temporary status and without one, pay into the tax system, strengthening the solvency of federal programs that Americans rely upon, as well as work critical jobs driving the economy. Foreign-born workers, particularly undocumented workers, have made important contributions to the national recovery during the COVID-19 pandemic—74 percent of undocumented workers are essential infrastructure workers. Despite these efforts, most undocumented people have had less support to weather the economic impacts of the pandemic simply because of their status. Immigrant workers bring tangible benefits to U.S. communities that would only multiply if they were fully able to participate in society.
  • Families live in worry: Undocumented immigrants live in constant fear of being detained and permanently separated from their loved ones. Fear of separation can have deep consequences, with one analysis finding that deportation can have long-lasting irreparable psychosocial and economic consequences for children and family members impacted. The emotional toll of separation and the fear of separation are weights no family should have to bear.

“As we journey together through the time God has given us, may God give us the grace of a welcoming heart and an overflowing love for the new neighbors among us” (ELCA social message on “Immigration”).

Tell Congress: Pass legislation to modernize and humanize our nation’s immigration system, including creating an earned pathway to citizenship. Use your words and experiences to customize the following message.

Recipients

  • Your Senators
  • Your Representative

Message

Dear [Decision Maker],

Sincerely,
[Your Name]
[Your Address]
[City, State ZIP]

Contact

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