Katharine Jefferts Schori

The 26th Presiding Bishop of The Episcopal Church

Presiding Bishop calls on people of faith to insist U.S. government refrain from ‘inhumane treatment’ of migrants

September 17, 2007
Katharine Jefferts Schori

Dear Sisters and Brothers in Christ,

Many remained hopeful that during the last session of Congress a long overdue immigration reform bill would pass, transforming our failed immigration system into one that is more just and fair. Regrettably, the process was stalemated by opponents of reform, leaving about 12 million migrant workers in limbo, without any hope of being brought in from the shadows and protected from the exploitation which has been their fate for far too long. Recalling our baptismal covenant to seek and serve Christ in all persons and the Gospel imperative to welcome the stranger, our Church has been persistent in our advocacy for a just and compassionate immigration system. 

In recent weeks we have witnessed an escalation of raids by the Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agency on job sites, community gatherings, and even the homes of persons presumed to be undocumented. Families have been separated with breadwinners being placed in detention or a parent deported; family ties have been suddenly ruptured. There are now many wrenching accounts of individuals not being able to connect with detained or deported loved ones. In addition to this egregious treatment, many communities in which members appear to be among the undocumented are being subjected to racial profiling. 

Some local and national political leaders are pressing for more robust enforcement measures, including increased troops along our borders and a more formidable wall to prevent those who seek to better themselves by migrating to the United States from doing so. While the hoped-for legalization of the undocumented or the creation of a practical and fair mechanism for allowing workers to enter the U.S. legally to work did not happen, the enforcement side has moved forward aggressively to enact measures that punish and restrict without acknowledging the humanitarian and economic considerations that are fundamental to a truly reformed immigration system. This imbalance has resulted in endless tales of suffering and injustice; and this we must oppose.

I would urge our government, in the strongest terms, to cease these incursions into work places, homes and other venues where migrants gather until we have comprehensive immigration reform. This one-sided approach to addressing our immigration problems neglects the tenets of justice and compassion which define us as Christians and as a church which embraces the marginalized and the defenseless. I call on all people of faith to vehemently insist that migrants be protected from inhumane treatment. It is long past time for our government to establish immigration policies which respect the rights and gifts of those among us, now living in fear, whose contributions to our communities and economy are so valued. 


The Most Rev. Katharine Jefferts Schori
Presiding Bishop and Primate
The Episcopal Church


Bishop Jefferts Schori


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