Is there religious leadership on immigration?

As immigration becomes the hottest issue in the presidential campaign — “He is much nicer to immigrants than I am!” — one must wonder whether religious leaders have provided, well, leadership on what is, in part, a moral debate.

The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops have issued numerous pro-immigrant statements, but it’s not clear that their positions have seeped down to the parish level.

In June 2006, the bishops released a “statement”:http://www.usccb.org/bishops/immigrationreform.shtml calling for immigration reform that closed with this:

In the end, our immigration laws should be just and humane and reflect the values—fairness, opportunity, and compassion—upon which our nation, a nation of immigrants, was built.

Are priests talking about this — agreeing or disagreeing — from the pulpit?

Mainline Protestant leaders in New York can be expected to take pro-immigrant stances, as well, if asked. Episcopal Bishop of New York Mark Sisk has taken to saying and writing “We are an immigrant church.” But are they speaking out forcefully enough to be heard?

This week’s “Jewish Week”:http://www.thejewishweek.com/viewArticle/c37_a1489/News/National.html writes that most Jewish groups have been “mute” on the immigration debate. Colby College political scientist L. Sandy Maisal tells the paper:

What I fear is that on this issue, the Jewish community, which has taken such important principled stands in the past, has left some of those stands behind in favor of crasser politics. You don’t want to be on the side of an issue like this that is going to create enemies for you. And that’s very sad.

I mentioned a couple of weeks ago that I had heard that religious leaders in New York were preparing a statement on immigration. It is coming, but not yet. Looks like we’ll have to wait for the new year to see what they might say.

Gary Stern

Gary Stern covered education in the Lower Hudson Valley for several years during the early 1990s. Now's he back on the beat. He believes that schools are one of the main reasons that people live around here and that educational issues -- from curriculum to financing -- are among the most challenging things that journalists can write about. He continues to be amazed by the complexity of educational jargon. Gary got his B.A. at SUNY Buffalo and his M.A. from the University of Missouri Journalism School (where his master's thesis was about the best ways to cover education). He lives in White Plains with his wife and two sons, who attend public schools.