November 22, 2010

“The alien who resides with you shall be to you as the citizen among you; you shall love the alien as yourself, for you were aliens in the land of Egypt: I am the Lord your God.” Leviticus 19:34

This Thanksgiving season I have been challenged to remember our immigrant heritage in a new light.  I have been able to participate in several forums in which undocumented immigrants told their story and their hopes for a fair path to citizenship.  Most recently, a young man in high school desiring to go to college talked about the struggles of not being a legal US resident and the way that impacts his options for pursuing education and career.  His dream is to be an engineer with Ferari.

The glimmer of hope for him and other young people like him is a piece of legislation called the DREAM Act.  This bi-partisan bill (Senate Bill 729 and House Bill 1751) would create a pathway to citizenship for young people who were brought to the US as children but remain undocumented.  Youth 16 years or younger who have been in the US at least five years would qualify to begin a process toward permanent citizenship that would allow them to pursue life goals – to their own benefit and that of the country.  It’s not comprehensive immigration reform, but it’s a start.

The word out there now is that the DREAM Act will be coming up for a vote in the US Senate and House the week of November 29th.  Word is being put out to all faith communities to contact Senators and Representatives to urge them to vote Yes.

Go HERE for information about the bill from Church World Service and some helpful info and suggestion for what to say to the person who picks up the phone.  You first call the Capitol switchboard number 202/224-3121, and ask for the office of Senator Brown and/or Voinovich and/or your Representative. 

A personal confession is that calling a Representative is not something I enjoy all that much.  It takes willpower and some discipline to dial the number and give the brief appeal to the staffer who answers the phone.  I actually consider it a spiritual discipline – not that I do it all that regularly, but this is a good time to do it, maybe even make it a family holiday activity.

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