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Faith, Labor Communities United in Family-Focused Immigration Policy Reform

Photo courtesy of the We Belong Together campaign Facebook page.

With reports that comprehensive immigration reform legislation being shaped by the U.S. Senate’s “Gang of Eight” may reduce the number of family visas for aspiring citizens, AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka and a group of faith leaders today reiterated that family reunification is a core tenet of creating a commonsense immigration process.

Bishop Minerva Carcano of the United Methodist Church of the Los Angeles Episcopal Area told reporters in a telephone news conference:

We stand together in support for comprehensive immigration reform and we stand together on the reunification of immigrants and families….To depend on immigrants who do some of the hardest work in this country at the expense of being separated from their families is nothing less than a sin.

Trumka, whose immigrant grandfather endured a long separation from his family when he came to the United States in the early 1900s, said.

From the beginning labor has made family unification a core tenant of our immigration policy—including in 2009 when we laid out a framework for reform. The labor movement along with our allies in the faith community believes that commonsense immigration reform should work to unite families not divide them. And that’s why the entire labor movement is united behind a common commitment to maintain family reunification as a central goal of immigration policy.

Kevin Appleby, director of Migration Policy and Public Affairs for the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, said:

The Catholic Bishops strongly believe family unity should be the cornerstone of this [immigration] system….We need to be mindful of the fact that family unity strengthens the social backbone and fabric of this country.

While Bishop Kirk Smith of the Episcopal Diocese of Arizona spoke of the religious and moral underpinnings for family reunification, he also pointed to an economic benefit.     

Immigrant workers send large amounts of money back home to support their families. It would be better for the economy to have them spend that money here.

Trumka explained how his grandfather worked for two year in the coalfields of southwestern Pennsylvania, “before he could send for my grandmother.”

He worked even longer before he could send for his daughters, including my mother. That separation is something that shouldn't happen to any family.

The united labor movement’s immigration principles are straightforwardly pro-family: “Family reunification is an important goal of immigration policy and it is in the national interest for it to remain that way.”

Audio of the press conference will be available online later today at www.FaithInPublicLife.org

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