ISAIAH Urges Removal of Unnecessary Obstacles to Citizenship; Protection of Family Visa System

ST. PAUL, MN – The Campaign for Citizenship, a project of PICO National Network and ISAIAH responded to the bi-partisan immigration legislation with a statement from Rev. Paul Slack, Pastor of New Creation Church in North Minneapolis and President of ISAIAH:

“This proposal is a start, but it doesn’t go far enough to protect families and ensure that all 11 million aspiring Americans are included in a pathway to citizenship. But the fact that there is a pathway to citizenship in this bill shows that Senators have taken notice of the broad public support for an approach to immigration that honors American history and values.

Photo from ISAIAH’s Immigrant Stations of the Cross public action held in downtown Minneapolis, May 2006.

Now it is important that we make sure the path to citizenship is real – that it includes all 11 million undocumented immigrants; that it doesn’t have arbitrary barriers that exclude people or delay the process for more than a decade; and that it protects and reunites families.

We will be pressing members of the Senate Judiciary Committee to strengthen the bill before it goes to the floor – by shortening the length of time to become a citizen so that no one waits longer than a decade; removing barriers that could exclude immigrants in our communities; and protecting the family-based visa program.”

ISAIAH has urged faith leaders across the Twin Cities to call their members of Congress and ask them to support a direct, inclusive and accessible pathway to citizenship and keeping families together. Those interested in doing so can be connected to their members of Congress by calling the Campaign for Citizenship Hotline 1-888-979-7506.

The Campaign for Citizenship has determined that there are five essential elements for a reform bill:

  1. Seven Years: The path to citizenship should be direct and take no longer than seven years. The current backlog of immigration cases should be processed expeditiously.
  2. Citizenship for 11 Million: All 11 million undocumented Americans should be able to come out of the shadows to receive legal residency and begin moving down the path to becoming citizens without unnecessary obstacles.
  3. Freedom of Movement: People approved for the first phase of legal residency should be able to work, drive, attend school and travel out-of-country for family or educational purposes.
  4. Cost Savings from Ending Needless Detention and Deportation: As the country brings people in from the shadows and maintain border security, the government should be able to reduce the enormous sums spent detaining and deporting hundreds of thousands of immigrants who pose no danger to the community.
  5. No Permanent Underclass: Policies designed to increase the opportunity for immigrants to legally enter the United States should reunite families, protect labor rights and avoid creating a class of residents without access to a path to citizenship.

A more detailed version of these principles is available here.