Dear President Obama:
As the presiding bishop of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA) and a member of the Advisory Council on Faith-based and Neighborhood Partnerships, I write to lift up the support of our national church body for comprehensive immigration reform and the DREAM Act.
We are a church that belongs to Christ, and we believe God calls each of us by name. Therefore, the ELCA has repeatedly affirmed the biblical witness and our shared experience of working with and on behalf of America’s newcomers through our ministry with Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Service.
The 2011 Churchwide Assembly of the ELCA voted overwhelmingly in support of immigration reform and the DREAM Act. The churchwide assembly is the ELCA’s highest legislative authority serving on behalf of 4.2 million baptized ELCA members.
The biblical call to hospitality also inspired Lutheran congregations across the country to discuss transforming communities into centers of hospitality through relationship building and advocacy. In addition, congregations are holding DREAM Act Sabbaths to lift up the experiences of undocumented youth and encourage broader public support for the legislation.
The need to overhaul the U.S. immigration system is becoming ever more urgent. In the absence of comprehensive immigration reform, states have felt compelled to write their own immigration laws, which are often shortsighted and misguided. The ELCA needs your leadership. We urge you to continue to speak to Congress and the American public to take action on comprehensive immigration reform and the DREAM Act and to explore other compassionate policy reforms that advance the common good.
As a national church body, the ELCA — our congregations, bishops, schools and millions of individual members — continues to preach, teach, advocate and work with and on behalf of America’s newcomers. This nation has achieved such greatness due to the resilience, labor and intellect of immigrants. We will roll up our sleeves and work tirelessly until this nation is once again a place of welcome and justice for newcomers.
In God’s grace,
The Rev. Mark S. Hanson
Evangelical Lutheran Church in America