Last night, President Obama issued an Executive Order to address the United States' broken immigration system by protecting several million undocumented immigrants from deportation. Rev. Dr. William J. Barber, II, who co-authored a letter to government leaders last week asking for more sensible and compassionate immigration legislation, has issued the following response to the president's address:
The President's decision to issue this Executive Order signals great progress. We wish that the Congress would join with the President and work with him and not against him -- particularly those members who hold extremist views in the Republican Party. But President Obama decided to stand tall on his constitutional authority and to grant undocumented immigrants the best conditions he can without cooperation from Congress.
We, in the Forward Together Moral Movement and HKonJ People's Assembly, have stood with our immigrant brothers and sisters in the call for immigration reform for more than seven years. Every Christmas, we have held a rally called "No More Room at the Inn", to challenge America, to challenge the state, to not be like those who would not allow Mary and Jesus in the inn.
Last night, President Obama did something else that was very powerful. He framed his message and his position in the moral language of the Scriptures, which say that we are to treat the stranger with dignity and to ensure that the stranger -- or the immigrant -- has the same rights as his brothers and sisters. Or as Jesus said, we must do right by the least of these.
After the President spoke, I heard an angry commentator say the President had no constitutional basis for his Order, so he was forced to use a mere "Moral Argument." Lord, have mercy on us. Our current immigration 'system' is immoral. Not treating people with dignity is immoral. Calling fellow members of the human race "aliens" is immoral.
As Thanksgiving approaches, let us be thankful that President Obama stood in the deepest moral tradition of our greatest spiritual and constitutional traditions which both call for Justice and Love. Let us turn our Thanksgiving into action, pushing our own Representatives to do what is right and pass fair immigration reform.