‘Standards of Immigration Reform’ fall far short of what’s needed

church_and_society_ZB3GPNQMWASHINGTON, D.C. — The United Methodist General Board of Church & Society (GBCS) has issued a statement declaring the Standards for Immigration Reform released Thursday by Republicans in the House of Representatives falls far short of the solutions needed to reform U.S. immigration laws.

“In fact, the standards are a step in the wrong direction, according to Bill Mefford, GBCS’s director of Civil & Human Rights., who issued the statement.

A draft of the proposed “Standards for Immigration Reform” was released at the House Republican Issues Conference in Cambridge, Md. The standards would allow many undocumented immigrants to live legally in the United States if they meet a set of stringent requirements and if tough border-security triggers are achieved.

United Methodists have “eagerly anticipated legislative progress for quite some time,” according to the statement, because they witness the impact the broken immigration system has had on families, congregations and entire communities. The statement stresses that “real solutions are needed” as immigrant families face the crisis of an uncertain future, possible deportation and family separation.

“The Standards fall short because they fail to see that immigration is innately a human rights issue,” the statement points out. “More than an issue of national security or economic prosperity, immigration is about immigrants: individuals and families who have bravely sojourned to the United States in search of basic human survival, safety, and freedom.”

The statement says it is “a privilege and responsibility” to ensure the U.S. ideal of being a place of freedom, equality and justice is a reality for native born and immigrant alike.

“We encourage House Republican leaders to continue to work on these Standards,” the statement says. “And as they are perfected, we stand ready to work with them to bring solutions that are genuine and lasting to the U.S.’s broken immigration system.”

GBGS’s statement on the Standards for Immigration Reform follows:

Statement on Standards for Immigration Reform
United Methodist General Board of Church & Society

The General Board of Church & Society of the United Methodist Church acknowledges the release of the Standards for Immigration Reform by House Republicans on Thursday. United Methodists have eagerly anticipated legislative progress for quite some time as we witness the impact the broken immigration system has had on families, congregations and entire communities.

Real solutions are needed as immigrant families face the crisis of an uncertain future, possible deportation and family separation. The Standards fall far short of the solutions that are needed, and at present are a step in the wrong direction.

The solution-based reforms The United Methodist Church advocates for include:

  • Citizenship for undocumented migrants, with any process or “pathway” created having minimal obstacles and maximum accessibility,
  • Reunifying families separated by migration or detainment,
  • Protection of the basic civil and human rights of all migrants, especially the preservation of due process and the rights of migrant workers.

The Standards for Immigration Reform seem to deny undocumented immigrants any kind of “pathway” to citizenship and in addition, create significant hardship for immigrants to even attain legal status. The Standards hold that immigrants must “pass rigorous background checks, pay significant fines and back taxes, develop proficiency in English and American civics, and be able to support themselves and their families (without access to public benefits).”

Further, before undocumented immigrants can obtain legal status the Standards state that “enforcement triggers” must be fulfilled. A possibility exists that legislation in keeping with the Standards would keep immigrants in legal status without full benefits of citizenship, in essence making them permanent second-class citizens. The intention of the Standards seems to make any process of legality as inaccessible as possible, with citizenship potentially impossible.

We do strongly endorse the Standards’ call for citizenship for DREAM Act students. At the same time, however, the Standards mandate that available visas would no longer be used to reunite families. This would dismantle the emphasis on family reunification that has been the cornerstone of the U.S. immigration system for almost fifty years. Instead, visas would be used solely for “individuals to help grow our economy.”

The Standards call for a “step by step process” and refuse to consider conferencing with the Senate legislation. The only steps, though, the Standards identify towards reform include border security and interior enforcement. With no accessible process to attain citizenship spelled out and the dismantling of the family immigration system, the Standards fail to bring forth the solutions our immigrant sisters and brothers genuinely need.

The Standards fall short because they fail to see that immigration is innately a human-rights issue. More than an issue of national security or economic prosperity, immigration is about immigrants: individuals and families who have bravely sojourned to the United States in search of basic human survival, safety, and freedom. If we believe that the United States is a place of freedom, equality, and justice, then it is our responsibility and privilege to make those ideals a reality for native born and immigrant alike.

We encourage House Republican leadership to continue to work on these Standards and as they are perfected, we stand ready to work with them to bring solutions that are genuine and lasting to the broken immigration system.

The General Board of Church & Society is one of four international general program boards of The United Methodist Church. Prime responsibility of the board is to seek implementation of the Social Principles and other policy statements on Christian social concerns of the General Conference, the denomination’s highest policy-making body. The board’s primary areas of ministry are Advocacy, Education & Leadership Formation, United Nations & International Affairs, and resourcing these areas for the denomination. It has offices on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C., and at the Church Center for the United Nations in New York City.

For more information, contact Bill Mefford, director of Civil & Human Rights at the General Board of Church & Society, (202) 488-5657 orbmefford@umc-gbcs.org.

General Board of Church & Society

The United Methodist General Board of Church and Society, headquartered in Washington, D.C., is that agency of the church charged with promoting the church’s social witness, and to help all United Methodists connect their faith with the broader society.

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10 Comments on "‘Standards of Immigration Reform’ fall far short of what’s needed"

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The United Methodist Reporter wants to encourage lively conversation about The United Methodist Church and our articles in the belief that Christian conversation (what Wesley would call conferencing) is a means of grace. While we support passionate debate, we cannot allow language that demeans or demonizes others, and we reserve the right to delete any comment we believe to be harmful or inappropriate. We encourage all to remember that we are all broken and in need of Christ's grace, and that we all see through the glass darkly until that time we when reach full perfection in love. May your speech here be tempered with love, and reflection of the fruits of love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. After all, "There is no law against things like this." (Galatians 5:22-23)
 
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Wes Andrews
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And I’m curious. At the top of the right column I seen what looks like an ad for Frank Schaefer. Is that a paid add or is UMR freely promoting the Frank Schaefer Road Show. First D.C and now Dallas. I’m just curious.

Jay Voorhees, Former Executive Editor
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Wes, that is a paid ad. Any thing showing up in those boxes or in the banner is paid advertising.

Wes Andrews
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Thanks Jay V, for the clarification. They are certainly free to pay for advertising.

Wes Andrews
Guest

All the more reason to pass a resolution that each church owns its property. Pass another resolution that all clergy and hired staff be required to uphold the BOD. And yes, another resolution that sanctions agencies that attempt to speak for the UMC, better yet, abolish the GBCS, because it really doesn’t promote justice, it promotes a political agenda, and it wastes funds that can be used for true mission opportunities.

Tim Conover
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We are told to be conectional through our apportionment dollars and special giving efforts. That seems to be non negotiable. It seems every day to be feeding the behemoth that continues to shove social causes down our throat. Since when have illegal and justice co-mingled. If I were to walk into a Bishops house and decided to make it my home, would the standards be the same? Same as being Illegal, let’s not forget that word when describing them. It gives a bad name to those that have gone about it correctly.

Wes Andrews
Guest

Pretty amazing how the GBCS pretenses that they speak for the UMC. They don’t only General Conference does. And of course, they sound like they have a show on MSNBC…. (sigh)…

james
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“United Methodists have “eagerly anticipated legislative progress for quite some time,” according to the statement, because they witness the impact the broken immigration system has had on families, congregations and entire communities.” Most, if not all, agencies in the umc make blanket statements like the one quoted above with little thought or regard to the possiblility that many members of the umc may have a different outlook/opinion. A seminarian has told me that if one does not believe or espouse the very liberal ilk of seminaries apporved by the umc one must keep the mouth shut or suffer consequences from… Read more »
lgjhere
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Let’s face it, this immigration thing is a 20th century issue that has slopped over into the 21st century. The time has come to finally resolve it in an intelligent fashion, as three-fourths of Americans favor and Obama confronts head-on. A new award-winning worldwide book/ebook that helps explain the role, struggles, and contributions of immigrants and minorities is “What Foreigners Need To Know About America From A To Z: How to Understand Crazy American Culture, People, Government, Business, Language and More.” It paints a revealing picture of America for anyone who will benefit from a better understanding. Endorsed by ambassadors,… Read more »
DL Herring
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The “progressive” General Board of Church and Society will not be satisfied until the US/Mexico boarder is wide open and unmonitored. Our border with Mexico is: 1) A major national security issue, 2) A major drug trafficking and cartel issue, 3) A public safety issue, 4) A national sovereignty issue, 5) An economic and taxation issue. It is not a violation of human rights to deny citizenship to anyone who has broken our Federal laws by crossing the border illegally. Granted, children who were brought here when they were young had no choice and we are addressing that with the… Read more »
MethodistPie
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‘National security and economic prosperity’, seemingly dismissed here by the Board, strike me as pretty important.

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