A prayer vigil between faith leaders, members of Congress and others was held on Tuesday this week in Washington, D.C. as a "call for an end to hateful rhetoric in immigration debate," the Episcopal News Service (ENS) reported.
Organized by the Interfaith Immigration Coalition, the vigil was held as a response to the Federation for American Immigration Reform's (FAIR) annual talk radio rally and lobby efforts held from Sept. 14-16, which one vigil member claimed made, "no distinction between documented and undocumented [immigrants]."
"Immigrants both undocumented and documented are part of the backbone of what makes American great," Democratic Representative Jared Polis of Colorado told ENS. "And there should be no misconceptions [about the] people … who are lobbying today … FAIR makes no distinction between documented and undocumented [immigrants]."
Bishop John Wester of the Catholic Diocese of Salt Lake City and chairman of the Committee on Migration for the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops stated, "We're a great nation. A nation that has welcomed immigrants to her shores for more than 200 years. Yet we are currently experiencing a political environment fueled by anti-immigrant rhetoric, rhetoric which dehumanizes our fellow human beings and also reduces and diminishes us as a nation."
Joining Polis and Wester at the vigil were Diocese of Rochester Bishop Prince Singh, Bishop Minerva Carcaño of the Desert Southwest Conference of the United Methodist Church; Dale Schwartz of the Hebrew Immigrant Aid Society; and Democrat Representative Luis V. Gutierrez of Illinois.
Schwartz, an immigration attorney of more than 40 years, said that, "We must not stand for the hate crimes and hate rhetoric that we hear today -- immigrants also are people of faith. Immigrants want a better life for their families. Immigrants are part of our churches, synagogues, mosques and communities. Immigrants also work hard to overcome tremendous odds."