Religious leaders call for immigration reform

January 11, 2010 4:42:50 PM PST
Local religious leaders are coming together for a cause. It's a call for reform when it comes to the nation's immigration system which they call broken and inhumane. The call for immigration reform is not new, but it is considered a priority for the religious leaders in Houston. Learning English is one of the most popular classes at the Family Community Centers. The eastside service center helps over 15,000 people a year, and over 80 percent are immigrants like Connie Gutierrez.

Gutierrez said without papers it's very difficult, but with papers it's very good. Gutierrez had proper documentation to become a citizen yet the process for her was difficult taking several years and costing thousands of dollars.

"Our effort here is to bring morals and ethics into the political arena," said Reverend Mike Cole of Presbytery of New Covenant.

Pushing for a change in immigration reform, religious leaders from all over Houston took part in Monday morning's conference, calling for these specific reforms:

  • To uphold family unity, meaning not to separate families during the immigration process
  • Protect workers and provide efficient channels of entry
  • Facilitate immigrant integration by reducing costly fees and cutting down on wait time
  • Reform detention centers
  • Add humanitarian values, meaning treat immigrants with respect and dignity

Admittedly, these are lofty goals these religious leaders say can be met.

"Education formation on our part as faith leaders is certainly an important dimension of our own people, of having our own people recognized that those people in our midst are human beings and the more we can integrate them into society, the better," said Cardinal Daniel DiNardo of the Galveston-Houston Archdiocese.

The religious leaders will bring their message to the congregation who in turn will bring it to lawmakers.