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Interfaith event in Greensboro urges humane path to citizenship

The faithful from a variety of traditions recently held an interfaith vigil in Greensboro to press for comprehensive, humane reform of our nation’s broken immigration policies. The vigil, along with corresponding events in Durham and Goldsboro, urge leaders in both the North Carolina legislature and in Congress to work toward “moral immigration reform,” including the demilitarization of immigration enforcement and a rational path to U.S. citizenship for unauthorized immigrants.

“We believe that moral immigration reform means that one treats immigrants with dignity and respect, and doesn’t criminalize migrants or further divide families and communities,” said a spokesperson for the NC Justice Center, which helped publicize the events, which were organized by the American Friends Service Committee.

A variety of faith leaders shared personal stories about immigrants and the issues confronting them under our fractured and increasingly punitive immigration system. They then led prayers that our representatives will be moved toward, as the AFSC said in a statement, “a better path to safe, reasonable and just immigration policies" that include a fair opportunity for U.S. citizenship for the millions of unauthorized immigrants living in and contributing to our society.

"This event will exemplify that all faiths urge us to welcome the stranger,” the Greensboro-based group says.

According to the NC Justice Center, the groups applaud the immigration reform effort in the U.S. Senate but remain disturbed by its emphasis on border militarization and on tightening immigration laws to the point where no realistic path to legal status remains for millions of aspiring U.S. citizens. The groups rebuked the House of Representatives for stubbornly rejecting compromise and instead focusing on piecemeal efforts, such as the “SAFE Act,” which put the burden of immigration enforcement on local law enforcement, and other anti-family policies.

A spokesperson for the North Carolina Council of Churches agreed in the group’s own statement, adding that faith communities are the “first responders” in our current policy crisis and promising to continue to fight every day until comprehensive immigration reform is enacted.

“The status quo of broken immigration laws is harming families and churches,” the council contends. “We need humane reforms that keep families together and lift people out of the shadows.”

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