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Fixing our Immigration System: A Proposal from the Sioux County 100

Our experiences and conversations with many of our Anglo and Hispanic neighbors in northwest Iowa convince us that the current set of federal immigration laws is dysfunctional and incremental steps can be taken immediately to improve our current laws, in the absence of comprehensive reform.

We affirm the Christians for Comprehensive Immigration Reform Statement of Principles which say:

  • We believe all people, regardless of national origin or citizenship status, are made in the "image of God" and deserve to be treated with dignity and respect (Genesis 1:26-27, 9:6).
  • We believe there is an undeniable responsibility to love and show compassion for the stranger among us (Deuteronomy 10:18-19, Leviticus 19:33-34, Matthew 25:31-46).
  • We believe that immigrants are our neighbors, both literally and figuratively, and we are to love our neighbors as ourselves and show mercy to neighbors in need (Leviticus 19:18, Mark 12:31, Luke 10:25-37).
  • We believe in the rule of law, but we also believe that we are to oppose unjust laws and systems that harm and oppress people made in God's image, especially the vulnerable (Isaiah 10:1-4, Jeremiah 7:1-7, Acts 5:29, Romans 13:1-7)
  •  We believe that biblical teachings relative to “justice” must be balanced by the biblical call to “show mercy” (Matthew 23:23)

Our conversations with our Hispanic neighbors in northwest Iowa revealed that the most negative effect of current immigration laws on Hispanic immigrants has been the destructive effects on the unity of their families. This leads us to affirm the central importance of the goal of fostering family unity and the flourishing of families as we seek reform in immigration laws, a goal that we believe can be embraced by persons of good will on both sides of the political aisle.

We support the following three goals:

·      Protect Families and Children -- Reform immigration law to be more “family friendly” – enabling immigrant families to stay together or reunite, and enabling immigrant families to flourish

Possible steps to consider for accomplishing this goal include:

o   Eliminate the caps on visas for family members of legal immigrants to the US in order to facilitate the legal reunification of a husband and wife, or a parent and child

o   Reduce the waiting time for separated families, including elimination of the problem of an immigrant who leaves the US to visit family having to wait an inordinate amount of time (sometimes 6 to 10 years) to be able to return to the US, with no guarantee of re-entry

o   Maintain the constitutional rights of birthright citizenship

o   Revise immigration law to avoid the deportation of parents that effectively abandons their children who are U. S. citizens

o   Reintroduce in Congress a revised version of the Dream Act that addresses some of the perceived deficiencies in the original legislative proposal, and provides the US citizen children of illegal immigrants the same rights, privileges and responsibilities as the children of legal US citizens

·      Grow Small Town Economies -- Expand legal avenues for workers to enter our country and work in a safe and legal manner with their rights and due process fully protected, and for workers who are already contributing to our economy through employment to continue to work while applying for legal status that reflects their contribution to our communities

Possible steps to consider for accomplishing this goal include:

o   Provide a one-time opportunity for illegal immigrants to come forward and earn a path toward permanent legal status by satisfying specific rigorous criteria, to include evidence that they have been employed and have not broken the law before or since their illegal entry

o   Establish a viable “guest worker” program in that will be fair to both American workers and immigrant workers, creating legal avenues for workers and their families to enter our country and work in safety with their rights and due process fully protected

o   Extend Worker visa programs beyond “temporary employees” (as in agriculture) to include “non-seasonal” employees (issuing visas for up to 3 years)

o   Change the procedures by which illegal immigrants with American family members apply for legal status (obtaining a “green card”), allowing a crucial early step to take place in the United States rather than in the immigrant’s home country

o   Institute sufficient punishments for employers who take advantage of the unprotected status of immigrant workers to violate laws regarding wages, benefits and working conditions

·      Practice Smart Law Enforcement Implement smart immigration law enforcement initiatives consistent with maintaining human dignity and respect that includes fostering positive relationships with all local residents while deterring and punishing criminal activity

Possible steps to consider for accomplishing this goal include:

o   Consider ways in which law enforcement officers can engage members of the immigrant community in “non-official” capacities for the purpose of fostering trusting relationships

o   Revise the Secure Communities Program to foster more effectively its purpose of capturing convicted criminals and persons deemed as security threats, without the present unintended consequenceof driving immigrants “deeper into the shadows” and deterring them from helping law enforcement officers combat crime

o   Embed any improved E-Verify system for insuring that immigrants have authorization to work in the US within an established path toward permanent legal status       

Local petition signers

There are currently 814 signatures
Name City Comment
Valerie Stokes Orange City
Tim Schlak Orange City
Margo Vanderhill Alton
Sara Tolsma Orange City
Ron Juffer Orange City
Peg Juffer Orange City
John Buntsma Orange City
Michael Andres Orange City
Laurie Daily Orange City
Sherri Langton Orange City
Joe Heitritter Rock Valley
Jeff VanDerWerff Orange City
Judy Hauswald Sioux Center
Harold Heie Orange City