The time has come to resist our nation's immigration system: we cannot justify a system which deports 400,000 people per year, even while there is widespread agreement that the system is broken. I call on people of faith and conscience to join us.
Such acts of resistance should never be taken lightly, and should only follow all other courses for correcting wrongs. In our struggle, we have met many times with our elected representatives, we have marched, we have prayed -- and we will continue doing so.
But our actions up to this point have not been sufficient to stop an immigration system which is tearing at the very fabric of our community. We still see the tears of the children left behind from deportations. We still pray with those who live in fear every day. We still read the breathtaking statistics: 18 billion taxpayer dollars were spent on immigration enforcement in FY2012, more than all other federal criminal law enforcement agencies combined. Over 5,000 children are in foster care following a parent's deportation. Only 10.8 percent of immigration detainers issued by local law enforcement agencies in the first half of 2103 were for serious public safety or national security threats. The New York Times highlighted the Obama administration's disastrous immigration enforcement policies with a timely editorial entitled, "Not One More."
I call on elected leaders to be courageous: Representative Boehner, our country is counting on you to let comprehensive reform legislation move forward in the House. Representatives Roskam and Lipinski, you have special roles to play as the only Chicagoland representatives who have yet to support reform efforts. President Obama, your administration is responsible for more deportations per year than any other in history.
I call on clergy and laity to join us. Over 100 faith groups and leaders have already signed on to our Declaration of Repentance and Resistance, drafted by the Chicago New Sanctuary Coalition. We repent as a nation yet to correct its own broken system. We pledge resistance to that system as long as record deportations continue and our leaders in Washington are gridlocked.
The civil rights movement, the fight for women's rights, the struggle to end slavery, and other achievements were made with the help of those who were willing to resist the unjust laws of their times. We find ourselves again at a time of moral crisis. Let us all act prophetically, that this time may be remembered as a time of courage and commitment to our values and our communities.
Rev. Dr. Jorge L. Morales
Conference Minister, United Church of Christ Illinois Conference
Member of The Chicago New Sanctuary Coalition