New York Interfaith Leaders Call for Comprehensive Immigration Reform

Yesterday the Sikh Coalition joined with diverse faith leaders as well as Congressmember Charles Rangel to announce the creation of the New York State Interfaith Network for Immigration Reform.Just before Holy Week, Passover, and Vaisakhi, we came together to call on President Obama to enact comprehensive, just, and humane immigration reform.

The Sikh Coalition joined this newly formed coalition a few weeks ago partly because so many members of our community here in the U.S. are immigrants who face many barriers and struggles in their daily lives because of their immigration status. Indeed, as the press advisory for yesterday’s event stated,

only comprehensive reform can fix a broken immigration system that separates families and sows fear in immigrant communities, forces 12 million undocumented immigrants to remain in the shadows, and fails to address employers’ needs for labor and preserve the rights of American workers.

We are a part of this movement for immigrant rights and justice not only because it affects our own community but also because of our responsibility as Sikhs to be putting sarbat da bhala into practice and fighting for the rights and welfare of all. What was so powerful and moving about this press conference was that leaders from so many different religious backgrounds came together to call for comprehensive immigration reform because of their commitment to their faith. They (and we) see fighting for social justice for ALL people as a spiritual duty.

I hope you’ll get a sense of the significance of this interfaith movement that is building from this short clip from the press conference, which includes remarks from Dr. Diane Steinman from the American Jewish Committee, Sister Ellen Patricia Finn from Catholic Charities of Brooklyn and Queens, Congressmember Charles Rangel, Dr. Uma Mysorekar from the Hindu Temple Society of North America, and Rev. Bob Coleman from Riverside Church, as well as an interfaith prayer led by Rabbi Michael Feinberg from the Greater NY Labor Religion Coalition and myself.

Let’s use this Vaisakhi season as an opportunity to reflect on sarbat da bhala and join with other faith communities to work for social justice for all people.

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