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Prominent inter-religious leaders decry Arizona’s anti-immigrant law
and call for comprehensive immigration reform

Chicago, IL (May 12, 2010) – Catholic priests, religious sisters and brothers, along with representatives from Christian, Muslim and Jewish faith communities held a press conference at Holy Name Cathedral Chapel this morning and issued statements to bring the moral voice of Chicago's inter-faith community to oppose the enactment and implementation of Arizona SB1070, which criminalizes undocumented immigrants, and to call on the Federal Government to freeze non-felony deportations and move swiftly toward passing compassionate, comprehensive immigration legislation. 

Participants in the press conference included Most Rev. Gustavo Garcia-Siller, Auxiliary Bishop of Chicago; Rabbi Joshua Salter, Associate Rabbi of Beth Shalom B'nai Zaken Ethiopian Hebrew Congregation in Chicago; Priests for Justice for Immigrants (network of 200 priests); Sisters and Brothers of Immigrants (representing 47 religious orders); representatives of the Council of Religious Leaders of Metropolitan Chicago and of the American Jewish Committee; and interfaith representatives of the Pastoral Care Ministry at detention centers.

The press conference began when participants stood together in solidarity as leaders from local Christian, Jewish, and Muslim communities and offered prayers for their immigrant brothers and sisters. Three sponsoring organizations issued statements that voice concerns of their faith communities regarding immigration law.

Regarding SB1070 in Arizona, the Priests for Justice for Immigrants and Sisters and Brothers of Immigrants through a joint statement said, “The passage of such legislation that will inevitably increase an already scandalous amount of profiling of Latino men and women in Arizona reflects a greater frustration with our Congress and Federal Administration. We are compelled by moral imperative to go beyond the law, to know the person and the pain. We call on all people of good faith to immediately join with us to reject laws such as SB1070 and demand that our legislators halt all non-criminal deportations until they fix our long-broken immigration system.”

In its statement, the Council of Religious Leaders of Metropolitan Chicago said, “We are deeply concerned that this largely immigrant nation, representing the world’s rich diversity of cultures and religions, should be found indicting the broad base of today’s immigrants as threats to the nation’s security, economic health, and character. The time for national, comprehensive immigration reform is long overdue. We call upon political leaders to act. We urge members of our religious communities to bring the social and moral values from their religious heritage to the public discussion and decision making. People of faith cannot be silent.”

During the press conference, three prominent Catholic, Jewish and Muslim faith leaders in attendance shared their own stories and fears of racial profiling.

Most Rev. Garcia-Siller said, "We are concerned about real people here in the U.S. and are totally in disagreement with the Arizona ruling. There are serious concerns regarding law enforcement based on suspicion of legal status. There is so much fear and anger sometimes in those who interpret and enforce the law, fostering racism and discrimination. Let us not allow our fears define us, let us come together with our strengths. People are suffering, and we all are suffering with them. We need comprehensive and compassionate immigration reform.”

Rabbi Salter said, "Historically racial profiling has been a sad part of our nation's history. Recent events in Arizona recall the day when African-Americans were profiled by law.  This is what we are approaching now." 

Following the personal stories, each participant held up an empty photo frame, saying, “This could be me.” The frames were created by youth of St. Pius V Casa Juan Diego Youth Center in Pilsen, a Chicago neighborhood that has historically had one of Chicago’s heaviest concentrations of immigrants.  

For more information contact Elena Segura, Director, Archdiocesan Office for Immigrant Affairs & Immigration Education, 312-534-5333, esegura@archchicago.org.

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