Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Senator Murray and Immigration Reform

Last Thursday I had the exciting opportunity to attend a meeting that had been put together by Senator Patty Murray's office to discuss comprehensive immigration reform (CIR). This is an issue that is relatively new to me, but is something that The Church Council of Greater Seattle has been involved in for a number of years, and so I have been to several meetings about the hopes for getting CIR on the legislative agenda for this year. Of course, this has been complicated by the prolonged negotiations regarding the federal budget, as the continue into 2013, but there are many individuals, organizations, and politicians who are still moving forward. 

I ended up sitting right across the table from the Senator, and she opened with her own priorities and why she believes that our broken immigration system needs to be fixed in a comprehensive way. She spoke about keeping families together and the importance of the DREAM Act, among other priorities, and said that we need to get it done, and we need to get it done right. We then heard from five individuals whose lives have been dramatically impacted by our current immigration laws, in destructive and long-term ways. Even though there were at least fifteen other people in the room representing organizations, nothing speaks as powerfully as a personal story. 

In due course, I had my two minutes to explain the priorities of The Church Council directly to the Senator, and wow was that something! I've never met a Congressional representative and was so appreciating that Kathryn had put the image in my head of the "mom in tennis shoes" which Murray had used a lot during her first campaign. The Church Council's message was essentially that the Christian community is standing united with the immigrant community; that families are the backbone of our communities and that we need principled legislation that provides a pathway to citizenship and protections that lead to family reunification. There was so much more to say on the issue (visit http://www.washingtonsanctuary.webs.com/ or http://www.interfaithimmigration.org/ for more information about what The Church Council supports) and it was amazing to hear the unique perspectives that each individual and organization brought to the discussion. 

At the end I was able to shake Senator Murray's hand and get a picture with her!


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