Presiding Bishop on president’s immigration plan

Posted Nov 21, 2014

[Episcopal Church Office of Public Affairs press release] Episcopal Church Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori has issued the following statement on President Obama’s recently announced immigration policies:

Together with families and communities across the United States, I give thanks for President Obama’s announcement that nearly five million undocumented immigrants will soon be eligible for relief from the threat of deportation. Too many families have lived for too long continually worried about parents being separated from children, wage-earners and caregivers from those who depend on them, and unable to participate fully in their communities and the nation’s economy.  Permanent and comprehensive reform of our broken immigration system through congressional action is still urgently needed, but the President’s action is a constructive step toward a system that honors the dignity and intrinsic value of every human being.  It will immediately strengthen our nation’s communities by allowing immigrant families much fuller participation in American civic and economic life.  

The Episcopal Church will work with Congressional leaders and the White House to press for implementation of the President’s plan as quickly, fairly, and inclusively as possible.  The President’s plan is not perfect.  Some deserving persons and families are excluded, meaning that additional work lies ahead.  All persons equally deserve the ability to pursue their dreams and contribute to their communities and families with liberty, dignity, and freedom.  I pray that the President’s action will lead our nation toward a future in which those sacred possibilities are open to all.

The Most Rev. Katharine Jefferts Schori
Presiding Bishop and Primate
The Episcopal Church


Comments (34)

  1. Joe Parrish says:

    This is a good first step, but it only relieves a quarter of the people under constant threat of deportation. Children born in a foreign country who have grown up their whole lives in the United States are being deported, and this new order does not give them any relief. Can you imagine having to be deported to a country you never remember and whose language you may have never heard? And how about those who escaped dire poverty who are now being deported right back into the subhuman existence they managed to escape, without food or water, just dumped back into an airport in their former land, hundreds or thousands of miles from any relative. Fix this!

  2. Ann Fontaine says:

    Thanks to our Presiding Bishop for speaking out. Yes we need more – but good first step.


    Immigration reform is certainly necessary. I sure wish we had a president who does not trample over the Constitution to achieve his goals. There was a time in our country when politicians forged compromises and not dictates. President Obama may be a lawyer but he is far from a man of the law. Long range out country will suffer from his pig-headed ways.
    -F. W. Thewalt

    1. Carla Price says:

      I agree with F. William Thewalt.

  4. Judith Bartels says:

    Our PB makes me proud to be both a Christian and an Episcopalian! Thank you for your fine response to President Obama’s leadership concerning the desperate situation all too many face because of our country’s lack of a workable immigration policy.

  5. Jeffrey Knox says:

    “The hopes and fears of all years are born in thee tonight.” Thank you Katherine for reminding us He shows us that together we can, we will , we are respecting the dignity go every human being….

  6. jan Rogozinski says:

    I must agree with Mr Thewalt. Like all too many “progressives,”Schori wants what she wants when she wants it. And she doesn’t care how she gets it. She forgets that in Christian theology, one sins by committing evil deeds, even if one’s intentions are not evil.

    Like all dictators, Obama acts arbitrarily and illegally. The constitution says that only the congress can define who is a citizen, not O. But Schori and other radicals forget that the next president could be a Republican from the right wing of that party.

    Obama says he can ignore Congress and rule on his own because he has “prosecutoral discretion” to decide which law breakers to prosecute. Using EXACTLY THE SAME LOGIC, the Rep. President could refuse to prosecute rapists and folks that bomb abortionaries. In that case, Schori would howl.

    1. William J. Adams says:

      On the other side of the coin there are all too many who want to name a sin when they want it to be a sin, whether they have their facts straight or not.

    2. Joseph Mazza says:

      Have we totally forgotten civility in our discourse? Demeaning, disgraceful references to people of good will!

    3. It is not ” progressive ” to be compassionate. It is mandated if you call yourself ” Christian “.
      As usual, the PB is right on target. I have my problems with President Obama. As far as his
      alleged pigheadedness in dealing with this Congress ( who you in your wisdom or lack of it
      elected, the biggest bunch of do=nothing legislators in American History, who deserve no
      accolades for the past 8 years of trying to teach the first African American President ” his place ” which is what this is all about ) other Presidents have dealt with them in like or far more strident manner….. President Roosevelt ( FDR ) trying to ” pack ” the Supreme Court; President Johnson lying to the American People about the so called ” Gulf of Tonkin Incident ” which NEVER OCCURRED; and of course there’s always Harry Truman trying to nationalize the steel industry. So don’t get all touchy feely for a try-partite system of government….. we haven’t had one since 1776. We just choose which branch should be the current monarchy. I choose the Executive; I didn’t elect the Supreme Court and GOD Herself knows I am not responsible for the idiots in Congress.

    4. Linda Selover says:

      The President is not changing how someone becomes a citizen – these people will not automatically become citizens — it just allows them to live without threat of deportation.
      Also even Republican presidents in the past have made similar proclamations concerning immigrants.

    5. Carla Price says:

      I agree with Jan Rogozinski.
      The purpose of bringing in 65,000 illegals last summer had nothing to do with Christian belief, because the President of the United States does not honor Christianity. He is a diehard socialist, probably worse. He wants to lower all standards: educational, health, moral, and political awareness. He is giving illegals the right to vote, and an income tax return, whether they worked here in the USA and paid taxes or not. The illegals will become dedicated Democratic voters….as the so-called Democratic Party moves so far left that it ventures into dictatorship and Communism. President Obama has a solid reputation for alienating other democracies and embracing dictatorships….such as Cuba. He should be removed from office by Federal Marshalls and tried for treason.

  7. Nancy Wyant says:

    Thank you, Bishop, for your support and words about this important issue. I am most thankful that SOMEONE, (thankfully, The President) has begun an active process and movement to address immigration reform! So sick & tired of all the positional political rhetoric on this matter. Analysis paralysis! What has happened to our humanitarian efforts in the Democratic process. So happy you have expressed the Church’s position. God’s abundant blessings.

  8. Sharon M. Dame says:

    Yes, I agree with all of you! and well done! but isn’t there a big, glaring, important “something” missing from the President’s plan? Did you know, that while this may be a good start, that no matter what, these poor people will never see citizenship?!
    How fair is that?
    Sharon M. Dame – Florida

  9. Richard Craig says:

    I need some help. I did not want to comment until I had gotten a chance to read the U.S. Constitution. I did not find any provision that granted Congress the exclusive right to determine who would be a citizen. I read the document and much of the explanatory information, particularly in reference to separation of powers of the three branches of the government. Perhaps some of you on here can point out the specific Article and Section for my edification. Thanks in advance.

    1. Glenn Horton-Smith says:

      I am not a lawyer, but I believe you’re looking for Article I section 8, which grants Congress the power “to establish an uniform Rule of Naturalization”. No similar power is granted the President as far as defining the naturalization process in law, i.e., “path to citizenship”.

  10. Joseph F Foster says:

    The road to Hell is paved with good intentions.

    And often the road to a dictatorship.

  11. Frank Bergen says:

    How many of you who criticize our President and our Presiding Bishop have at any time in the past several years spoken, written or emailed your Representatives in the Congress urging them to take action and create legislative solutions to our broken immigration system? How many of you have berated former Presidents for determining that similar decisions taken on behalf of undocumented immigrants were in the public interest? How many of you have ancestors who knowingly, willingly violated the law in order to assist runaway slaves? And how many of you can state with absolute confidence that none of your ancestors came to this country without entry visas, or remained here once temporary authorizations expired? And how many of you even counted to ten before writing your intemperate remarks?

    1. Stephen Mosman says:

      VERY WELL SAID. Thank you, thank you, thank you.

    2. John Neir says:

      Well stated Frank !

  12. Bill Harrison says:

    I believe that, with so many important issues facing us, it would have been better for the President to have given the newly elected congress 100 days to get something done or else . . . My big concern is that nothing will get done or worse because of this blatantly (why not before the election if it is so imortant?) political act. The facts seem to indicate that we’re losing the wars on poverty and terror. What about some real positive leadership away from confrontation and toward workable compromise solutions? We need to be praying and asking for the new congress and the President to work together to solve more than immigration issues.

  13. Rev. Steven Hagerman says:

    I support the action of President Obama and the Presiding Bishop in offering the support of The Episcopal Church.

  14. Barbara McCaughey says:

    I do not agree that this is good. President Obama is not the King of this country, he’s the President. He was elected to represent all people and uphold the Constitution, not trample on it.
    Do I feel bad for these people. Yes and no. Yes because they are living here illegally and are being used as pawns by our President and no because they are living in this country illegally. There are many people in line to enter the United States legally and instead of hastening the process for them, we now will encourage those who are here illegally to stay. What’s wrong with that picture?!
    I have a friend who is Canadian and a nurse. She had a Visa to stay here and during that time applied for permanent residence. She did this following the law. She was rejected and received a notice to leave the country. Here was a person who had a badly needed profession and would be self sufficient and she is denied. Yet, we have thousands who got here by illegally walking across our southern borders and are being rewarded.
    We have a Constitution and we have laws regulating immigration and good bad or indifferent, they are to be enforced until Congress revises them.

    1. Carla Price says:

      I support the posting of Barbara McCaughey.
      What a pity that an English -speaking nurse from a friendly country, and our neighbor, was denied the opportunity to reside in the USA and work, when hordes of uneducated, ill, and opportunistic people are coming here to work the system.

  15. elizabeth Barns says:

    I’m pleased that our president has started the movement forward on the immigration problems here in this country. Also equally pleased to here from our bishop. What I wish to hear is a congress that is willing to do something beside stopping every movement forward for this country. I’m really ready to have time limits. Congress was never meant to be a career but a gift given to the country of time, talent and work. We don’t seem to have that anymore. I pray for Congress, the President and our country every day.

  16. Sally Benton says:

    I believe the President had no choice but to start this process if anything is to be accomplished. It is a fact that Day One -Mitch McConnell and others set out to deliberately block everything – even when Pres Obama tried to work with Congress ( review clear audio of the conversation of McConnell warning that agreement with the President may bolster Democrat candidates in the future). The Presidency has been made difficult from the start – those refusing to work together in my opinion have greatly hurt our country. So, even tho there are issues to be addressed in the immigration plan set out – truth is there would be NOTHING if the issue were left to try to work out. There was no other way.

  17. Clark Lemons says:

    The church must support the downtrodden and those who suffer. One can claim that those who suffer suffer by their own fault, but that can only, at most, be partially true. No one choses to suffer. My thanks for a quick and unequivocal statement of grace go the Presiding President and to President Obama.

  18. Pierre Auguste says:

    They are right the actions of President Obama and the position of the Presiding Bishop. A lot of my people need these efforts for them all. A lot of Haitians are separated and need to join together. I personally thank the Presiding Bishop to be someone who will engage the whole Episcopal Church to work with the Congress for the implementation of this measure so quickly as soon as possible . Thank you so much. The Haitians will remember of your contribution during this historical moment.

  19. Peter Sherwood says:

    The statement from the Presiding Bishop raises some very important issues for Episcopalians. The first paragraph of the statement expresses the opinion of Bishop Jefferts Schori regarding the President’s recent executive order regarding undocumented immigrants in this country. I respect the right of Bishop Jefferts Schori to express her personal opinion on this matter. It is the first part of the second paragraph that raises some very important issues:
    “The Episcopal Church WILL work with Congressional leaders and the White House to press for implementation of the President’s plan as quickly, fairly, and inclusively as possible.”
    When the Presiding Bishop makes a statement like this there are important implications:
    • The action of the President is a political action, and as with all political actions it may be controversial and will not necessarily have the support of all in the population. I do not believe that there is anyone who would say that this particular action is without controversy. The Anglican Communion is largely located in countries with a democratic form of government and the people thus have the right to vote for the candidates of their choice. While I recognize that there are Episcopal clergy, including the Presiding Bishop, who feel it appropriate to express their opinion of political issues from the pulpit, this is the first time that I can remember a leader in the Anglican Communion stating that members of the church are expected and indeed are supporting the political action of a particular party and leader.
    • The Episcopal Church represents the clergy and laity of the church. No member of the church, including the Presiding Bishop, and church bodies or assemblies has the right to instruct the members of the church to support a particular politician or political policy.
    • If the Episcopal Church is giving active support of a particular political party or position this raises important issues such as:
    o The Episcopal Church should be inclusive and should never require its members to support a particular political position. The statement that “The Episcopal Church WILL……press for the implementation of the President’s plan” is a clear and unambiguous statement requiring all members of the Episcopal Church to support the President’s plan. The statement also implies that all members of the Episcopal Church support the President’s plan – which is clearly incorrect.
    o If the Episcopal Church is to provide active support for a particular political party then it is hard to see how financial contributions to the church could be considered to be a charitable contribution. Even if these contributions are considered to be charitable those who give may have serious concerns about their financial contributions being given in support of a particular political party or political position. It is therefore important that the Presiding Bishop informs members of the Episcopal Church if money given to the church is being given to or providing support to a political party or organization.

    Thus I feel that Bishop Jefferts Schori has the right to express her own personal views but does not have the right to direct the members of the Episcopal Church to support a particular politician or political view. To do so is not only inappropriate but potentially damaging to the future of the church as well as being incompatible with the practice and teachings of the Anglican Church over the past nearly 500 years.

  20. The Rev. Charles H. Morris says:

    Thank so much and Godspeed to leaders like our P. B., Katharine Jefforts Schori and our President, Barack Obama! They are taking action and actually DOING, beginning, something about a problem that has seen the real hurting of millions in our country for too long already. We need more BEGINNERS and fewer “AG’INNERS.” It is clear that many in Congress (especially the House) have been against any sensible and compassionate immigration reform for years now, while so many millions in our country suffer so much, and therefore it is not at all likely that the next Congress, with even more “Ag’inners,” would do anything meaningful or comprehensive about this problem for the first 100 days–or even 1,000! Thank you to our courageous and compassionate Presiding Bishop for reminding us all of a statement of determination we make in our Baptismal Covenant expressing our call “to respect the dignity of every human being” as we “strive for justice and peace among all people,” with the firm response: “I will, with God’s help.” (The Book of Common Prayer, p. 305)

    It is so easy for those of us who have not walked in others’ shoes or even known anyone suffering from this Nation’s lack of such a policy that’s now proposed by the President, to ignore their needs and suffering. I have found in other areas of injustice in our society, such as racial and sexual orientation bias and prejudice (and ignorance) that once I have come to know and especially become friends with suffering individuals in such situations, I have gained understanding and enlightenment that allow me to work for justice in those areas, which I have for years now. I have not, however, been blessed with knowing personally many who have suffered in the matter of injustice and suffering in terms of immigrant status. But I think we can all by imagination “put ourselves in their shoes” enough to do something for justice, with God’s help, especially through the church and political advocacy.

  21. The Rev. Dr. Elaine McCoy, PhD says:

    Thank you +Katherine for speaking in support of President Obama’s recent executive order that seeks to promote reform of our nation’s immigration policy. Your compassionate words well represents the Church. For those who would refuse our President’s actions and your support, I would counsel some quiet reflection regarding what it is that really angers you all. If you cannot find the spiritual maturity for such reflection, I recommend volunteering at an immigrant shelter or migrant worker camp so you can get beyond the hurdle that blocks your compassion. At the very least, pray for an open heart. Someday you, too, may he a stranger and in need of an open heart from one who can shelter you. Imagine what that would feel like.

  22. Kenneth Knapp says:

    I think the Lexington column in the Economist probably expressed my opinion pretty well: “The right thing, done the wrong way.” Having said that, I think this is an issue where reasonable people can disagree and still be good Christians and good Episcopalians. Most Episcopalians are reasonably well-educated and perfectly capable of expressing their opinions directly to their elected representatives. I’m not sure we need the church speaking out on our behalf. Especially when it is only speaking on one half’s behalf. Surely, some things can be left to individual conscience.

  23. Joe Barker says:

    Given the Presiding Bishops stance on the immigration situation and her obvious support for Obama’s plan, coupled with her recent statement on the situation in Ferguson, MO; I am becoming very concerned on the direction of our church. We seem to be leaning left at almost every opportunity and I am not a progressive nor do I desire to see my church take the lead in moving is to the left on social issues. Perhaps it would be good for our church to remain a place where we can worship our Lord and not have to chime in on every social issue that is hot at the time. I do not look for our PB nor our Bishops to have to make statements on every hot button news issues, but rather to be the teachers and leaders of the flock in our parishes. I fear that this continued involvement with social issues is going to continue to hurt and divide our church.

  24. Mike McLane says:

    I had to smile when I read the above comments. As I recall, Jesus was often involved with “social issues’ and that seems to have been a foundation of our church. Of course, he did have a bit more “authority” than the PB. 🙂

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