On Saturday, August 24, more than 400 ISAIAH clergy and members from the Twin Cities faith communities rallied in Chaska for comprehensive immigration reform and called on Minnesota Congressman Erik Paulsen to publically support a direct, inclusive and affordable roadmap to citizenship for 11 million aspiring Americans.

Imm. Pic 2Despite several invitations by Bishops from two major denominations, public officials and other faith-based organizations, Rep. Paulsen declined to attend and address the pressing issue with his constituents and those who are facing separation or deportation. Although local religious, civic and business groups continue to encourage him to take a stand, he has so far declined to discuss whether he will publically support immigration reform that includes a pathway to citizenship.

“It’s clear to see where people of faith are on this issue,” said the Rev. Paul Slack, President of ISAIAH and pastor of New Creation Church in Minneapolis. “But it is hard to see where Rep. Paulsen stands at a time when we need bold leadership and courageous action. August is a time when members of Congress are supposed to be hearing from their constituents. We are disappointed that Congressman Paulsen is refusing to talk to us. The children and families in our communities cannot wait for immigration reform any longer.”

The group assembled to worship; to hear from community and religious leaders, to listen to heartbreaking deportation stories by those left behind by our broken immigration system and to pray for all American immigrant families.

The crowd heard from public officials, such as former Chaska mayor Bob Roepke, the Chaska Chief of Police Scott Knight and Carver County Commissioner Randy Maluchnik, who emotionally recounted that his Polish grandparents were not considered criminals when they immigrated to the United States.

“Why is anyone who is willing to work for a better life for their children and their family a criminal?” Maluchnik asked. He believes that the 11 million currently undocumented immigrants need a similar path to citizenship and he called for immigration reform that lives up to our true American values.Imm. Pic 3

“By coming together in prayer we are making the most powerful statement that people of faith can make, lifting up our struggles to God; trusting in God’s protection for families who are facing separation,” said Bishop Ann Svennungsen of the ELCA Minneapolis Synod. “We are sending a message today, that the faith community stands with immigrant Americans. We are asking our political leaders to stand with them too and to publically support a pathway to citizenship that is fair, direct and inclusive of all our brothers and sisters who aspire to become citizens in the country they love.”

Bishop Lee Pichè of Catholic Archdiocese of St. Paul & Minneapolis added, “We must continue to urge our public leaders to consider every aspect of immigration reform that will keep families together.”

The group announced their plans to continue their campaign for citizenship with phone bank programs, public meetings and petition drives. Organizational leaders invited members of the Twin Cities faith communities to be part of a process of gathering 10,000 signatures and to host a congregational event that will give people the opportunity to talk about immigration reform through their family values. (You can find a congregational toolkit available on the ISAIAH website on August 6th).

They will also continue to encourage Rep. Paulsen to take a public stand on immigration reform and to support a comprehensive bill.

“To everyone in this room we need you to reach out to Paulsen until we have his commitment to stand with the 11 million immigrants who have been living in the shadows and to create a pathway to citizenship now! The time is now,” proclaimed the Rev. Paul Slack.

View more pictures and quotes on Twitter: @ISAIAHMN • #citizenship2013