Challenging Harsh Immigration Rhetoric

February 14, 2012

A group of faith leaders in Tennessee has issued a letter challenging Republican presidential candidates to avoid using harsh, divisive, and inaccurate rhetoric on the issue of immigration. With a presidential primary election on March 6, the campaign will head to the Volunteer State soon. The letter, which went to the various campaigns last week, was initially signed by nearly fifty Christian, Jewish, and Muslim leaders. Now that the letter has been released publicly, others in Tennessee are encouraged to sign it. The letter is the latest effort in a broader campaign by faith leaders in Tennessee to encourage immigration policies and discussions that advance the common good. Although faith leaders in other states have denounced harsh immigration laws after the legislation was passed, Tennessee faith leaders are setting a proactive example by addressing the issue now as they hope to prevent legislation similar to what was passed in Arizona, Alabama, and Georgia. Here are a few excerpts from the letter:

We teach the Golden Rule and seek to treat others as we would want to be treated. We believe all people of faith and goodwill must welcome the stranger, protect the vulnerable and seek justice for the poor. As such, we have taken a number of initiatives to address the issue of immigration, challenging the negative and untruthful narratives that generate bigotry and falsehoods. ... We are concerned that campaign rhetoric may result in unjust laws for the undocumented. We are dismayed by the destructive discourse of American politics in general and toward the undocumented in particular. ... Please keep the highly charged and negative campaign rhetoric, advertisements and promises on immigration out of Tennessee. Please do not inject our state with the language of 'illegals,' the unworkable ideas of deporting millions of individuals and thereby destroying families, and the heated claims that characterize the undocumented and their children as a class of criminals.
Amen! Immigration has already sparked clash at Republican presidential debates, so toning down the rhetoric would be a good start.

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