While we spend millions of dollars to invite people from around the world to enjoy our climate and our hospitality, the message we send is quite different when it comes to immigration and those who make their way into this state in a desperate effort to feed and care for their families. Focusing exclusively on border security postpones the search for long-term, comprehensive solutions to our broken immigration system and places millions across this country in a state of limbo.
We know there are border issues that must be addressed. The fact that there are criminal cartels that run drugs, weapons and people into our state and country is without question unacceptable. We need to do everything we can to stop these organized criminal activities.
We also need a compassionate system to immigrate those who seek personal safety or remain separated from their family. These people are willing to risk their lives in the desert for the chance to dwell among us and be fully engaged in contributing to the communities we call home.
Regardless of your political persuasion, our country’s current immigration policy represents a broken system urgently needing reform. But those entrusted to enact such reform have chosen to postpone rather than respond now to the needs of those families impacted by this issue.
We need our elected leaders to lead. We need to provide a legal pathway to allow those who are already here to continue to contribute to the well-being of both their families and our state. We need to do what is morally right and reverse the tragic results of a broken system that cries out for reform.
Nearly 400 Arizona community leaders representing education, law enforcement, business, religion, health care and social services met simultaneously in four cities — Tucson, Phoenix, Yuma and Sedona — on Nov. 21 at “Arizona Speaks.’’ These community leaders called for our congressional delegation, House Speaker John Boehner, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid and President Barack Obama to begin working on immigration reform. As a group, we issued a powerful and urgent call for both parties and the president to address immigration reform now.
We also invite others to join in this appeal, to urge our leaders to act now rather than wait for some more politically convenient time. Arizona — it’s your turn to speak. The human cost is simply too high to silently sit back and do nothing.
— The Rev. Stephen Talmage is bishop of the Grand Canyon Synod of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America. Denise Resnik is a business leader and Real AZ Coalition co-founder.