As I take time to reflect on what I am truly thankful for, my family certainly tops the list. I’ve just been out of the country for a week, so I will cherish the time sitting around the table with my kids, asking one another to share what we are most thankful for. And this year, my wife Joy will celebrate her first Thanksgiving as a U.S. citizen.
I am painfully aware that not every family is as fortunate as mine. The broken nature of America’s immigration system is deeply felt during the holidays by millions in the United States who long to be reunited with their loved ones.
Long backlogs in our nation’s family immigration system have kept families apart for years — even decades, in some instances. I was also shocked to learn that over the past ten years, more than 100,000 parents of U.S. citizen children have been deported by our government. Four million U.S. citizen kids live in “mixed-status families” — families comprised of both legal and undocumented residents who are fighting to stay together in the face of deportation and permanent separation. For us in the faith community who value and cherish families, this should not be acceptable.
In the coming months, you’ll be hearing a lot more from us about the broken U.S. immigration system and how you can advocate for just and humane immigration reform that builds up families. Sign up for our Christians for Comprehensive Immigration Reform newsletter and we promise to keep you up to date on ways you can advocate and engage in our work.
When you gather around the table with friends, family, and loved ones this Thanksgiving, remember the immigrant. Think of the empty seats at the tables of households across this nation. And join with me in imagining what next year’s Thanksgiving might look like if we are successful in reforming our nation’s immigration system with strong measures that reunite families. Now that would be something to be grateful for.
Jim Wallis is CEO and Editor-in-Chief of Sojourners.