FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: February 4, 2021
CONTACT: Alexa Lamanna | email@example.com | (202) 320-2766
Leaders with Faith in Action’s LA RED campaign urge Congress to include a path to citizenship and protections for immigrants in COVID-19 relief bill
WASHINGTON — Today, a coalition of more than 1,600 faith leaders and immigrant advocates issued a joint call for congressional leaders to include a path to citizenship for essential workers and prioritize protections for essential workers’ families, DACA recipients and Temporary Protected Status (TPS) holders.
The coalition letter, led by the LA RED campaign, iterates the need for the next COVID-19 relief stimulus package to provide (1) work authorization and a path to citizenship for essential immigrant workers and their spouses and children; and (2) protections for essential immigrant workers, their families, Dreamers and TPS holders.
The letter also stresses the “moral obligation” America owes to its essential workforce, who have worked to “sustain our economy and maintain the flow of food, other goods and basic services to every corner of our country” throughout the pandemic.
Leaders of LA RED have long been advocating for federal relief of essential workers. In May of 2020, LA RED launched a fundraising initiative specifically focused on raising money for immigrant relief funds and amplifying visibility of the impact the COVID-19 crisis has had on immigrant communities. Donations were distributed to immigrant relief funds established across the Faith in Action network, including Arizona, Nevada, California, Massachusetts, Minnesota, the District of Columbia, Maryland and Virginia.
“As people of faith, we are called to serve those most in need, those who have been left behind by the exclusionary systems that persist in this country,” said Rt. Rev. Dr. Shannon MacVean-Brown, Bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Vermont. “Immigrants are the backbone of this country, and the exclusion of undocumented immigrants – many of whom are working on the frontlines of this public health crisis – from COVID-19 relief is a severe moral failing on the part of our leaders.”
“Every person, regardless of who they are, is deserving of dignity and security,” said Pastor Julio Hernandez, director of family ministries at the Christ Crossman United Methodist Church in Virginia. “I have witnessed the incredible sacrifice these individuals have made to work to provide for their families. It is imperative that Congress recognize not only the contributions, but the humanity of immigrant essential workers by ensuring them relief, security, and a path to citizenship. It is our responsibility to stand with all members of our community as we call on our elected leaders to act in the name of what is right and just.”
“Now is the time to take the moral imperative! As we, as a nation, struggle to surmount the devastating effects of the pandemic through another Covid-relief stimulus, let us not leave our essential workers and their families behind,” said Fr. Julian S. Jagudilla, OFM, of The Migrant Center of New York at the Church of St. Francis of Assisi in New York City. “Leaving them out of this stimulus relief is tantamount to burying their voices, dreams and aspirations in perpetual oblivion – a real death blow. Our clarion call at this time of crisis is: ‘save life, not to destroy it.’ I pray that our elected officials will join this call to save lives.”
Today, Faith in Action federations in Vermont and New York will be delivering the letter to their senators. Clergy members and immigration leaders of Vermont Interfaith Action (VIA) will march to the Burlington district offices of Senator Patrick Leahy and Senator Bernie Sanders. Faith in New York (FINY) will hold a virtual vigil, during which they deliver the letter to Majority Leader Chuck Schmer’s district office.
If you’d like to speak further with LA RED leaders and immigration advocates, please contact Alexa Lamanna at firstname.lastname@example.org or (202) 320-2766.
Below is the full letter text.
To Members of Congress,
As leaders from a broad range of faith traditions across our nation, we share core convictions around justice, the bonds of family and community, and the dignity of every person. During the Covid-19 pandemic we have been navigating as a nation for nearly a year now, we have seen the ways in which all Americans have relied on essential workers to sustain our economy and maintain the flow of food, other goods and basic services to every corner of our country.
And we are reminded of the words of Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., who observed in his Letter from a Birmingham Jail: “All men are caught in an inescapable network of mutuality, tied in a single garment of destiny. Whatever affects one directly, affects all directly.”
We owe a debt of gratitude and bear a moral obligation toward these workers, now deemed “essential” but for too long treated as “expendable” within our economy. This has never been more true than in this season of the pandemic. Workers in meatpacking, agriculture, warehouse and delivery services, cleaning services, health care, childcare, public transit and other industries have provided the basics needed to sustain families and communities across the United States. Workers in these roles during the pandemic have exposed themselves and their loved ones to Covid-19, and have disproportionately experienced illnesses and deaths wrought by the coronavirus. The risks they have borne and the contributions to the common good they have made have yet to be fully acknowledged by our society.
Many of our nation’s essential workers are immigrants, compelled to run these risks to keep their families fed, clothed and sheltered while being excluded from health insurance, affordable healthcare and unemployment relief. The impact of the coronavirus has forced them to incur lost income, unexpected medical bills, and the searing burden of funeral expenses. All this, while we as a nation have left them out of any financial relief provided under the federal stimulus programs. This is an injustice that must and can be righted.
We urge you, within the Covid-relief stimulus bill to be considered by Congress in the coming weeks, to include an amendment that will:
- Provide work authorization and a path to citizenship for essential immigrant workers and their spouses and children; and
- Include protections for essential immigrant workers, their spouses and children as well as Dreamers and TPS holders.
By taking these steps, we can begin to meet our moral obligation to recognize and include immigrant essential workers who have helped America make its way through the pandemic. In this way we can take one important step toward building, out of the horror of the pandemic, a more just and equitable nation, one which recognizes and strengthens the web of mutuality which binds us all to one another.
Faith in Action, formerly known as PICO National Network, is the largest grassroots, faith-based organizing network in the United States. The nonpartisan organization works with 1,000 religious congregations in more than 200 cities and towns through its 46 local and state federations. For more information, visit www.faithinaction.org.
Faith in Action is a 501c(3). Faith in Action and its affiliates are non-partisan and are not aligned explicitly or implicitly with any candidate or party. We do not endorse or support candidates for office.