SALT LAKE CITY — Faith leaders and representatives of the League of United Latin American Citizens called on members of Congress Monday to pursue immigration reform that is humane and preserves families.
Following a brief ceremony outside the Wallace F. Bennett Federal Building that included prayer and the Pledge of Allegiance, the group presented letters to staff members of Sens. Orrin Hatch and Mike Lee, R-Utah.
Rolando Murillo, representing grassroots Latino organizations, said immigration is primarily a "human issue."
"That is our main concern, the division of families and preserving the concept of humanitarianism that built this great nation of ours," he said.
The event began and ended with prayers, "because this is a spiritual activity as we see it," Murillo said.
The ceremony came a day in advance of the expected release of immigration reforms proposed by the so-called "Gang of Eight," a bipartisan group of senators. The proposal will include a 13-year path to citizenship for the 11 million illegal immigrants already living in the country.
The four-page letter from the League of United Latin American Citizens says immigration reform must also include restructuring the immigration system, preserving family unity, ensuring due process and civil rights, and humane enforcement of immigration laws.
"Many of us are active members of our communities of faith. The Lord Jesus Christ taught that meaning of 'neighbor' includes all of God's children, in all places, at all times. It is with this spirit that many of the stakeholders in this campaign have come together to collaborate to square our unauthorized brothers and sisters with the law," the letter states.
The letter speaks of families of mixed status who have been imperiled by a broken immigration system. "The tragic separation of American families has been lost in the anti-immigrant rhetoric and the polarized political environment."
The letter notes many people involved in lobbying the federal government on immigration reform have never before been involved in the political process. "More than ever, we have become acutely aware of our voting power."