An open letter on a broken immigration system
To: The Honorable Janet Napolitano, Governor, Senate President Tim Bee, House Speaker James Weiers, and the Arizona State Legislature:
As pastoral leaders in Arizona, we express to you our deep concern over the broken immigration system facing our state and our nation. Because of Congress's failure to pass immigration reform last year, we have seen this debate spill over into our state, and public servants have been forced to respond to community concerns over immigration.
Unfortunately, a number of local and state officials have responded by engaging in a public conversation that is dividing our community, confusing enforcement procedures and creating an unwelcome spirit for many seeking to make Arizona their home. The debate continues to focus on broad fears and assumptions concerning the complex issue of immigration and is made even more complex by less tangible aspects such as racial differences, community identity, and unrealistic assumptions pertaining to the reach of current immigration laws.
As followers of Christ we find in scripture over-arching values that guide and direct the way we form our communities and live within our society. Among the most important of Jesus' teachings was: "Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.' This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.' All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments."
Based on our belief in these commandments, we call upon our public servants to work constructively to address the challenges and complexities of immigration. We urge our elected officials to find new, creative ways to answer public concern with legislation that supports the moral fabric of our community, seeking to uphold the dignity and rights of all people while finding proactive solutions to local problems. In seeking such solutions, we willingly offer our time, energy, and ideas, so that the current discussion might move toward greater understanding and respect within our community.
We invite our local officials to work together with the community to embrace our state's diversity, maintain an equitable rule of law, and provide tangible solutions to local issues so that our shared sense of community might be restored. We also urge our national representatives to re-engage the immigration reform debate in a civil and respectful manner. We must restore the rule of law in this country, but we must also look with compassion upon the immigrants who are here, working in our restaurants, fixing our homes and caring for our children. In Arizona, we recognize the critical need for a national solution that will unite broken families, invigorate our economy and effectively enforce our borders. We look forward to working together to find common ground on this critical issue.
Rev. Kevin Anderson, Pastor, OnePlace Church; Phoenix
Ian Danley, Youth Pastor, Neighborhood Ministries; Phoenix
Kit Danley, President, Neighborhood Ministries; Phoenix
Dr. Darryl DelHousaye, President, Phoenix Seminary
Rev. Rick Efird, Lead Pastor, Desert Springs Bible Church; Phoenix
Orbi Gonzalez, Associate Regional Director for the Southwest, Young Life; Mesa
Rev. William E. Good, Interim Associate Pastor, Mountain View Presbyterian Church; Scottsdale
Rev. Jim Graham, Senior Pastor, Valley View Bible Church; Paradise Valley
Rev. Arnold L. Jackson, Executive Director & C.O.O., Tanner Community Development Corporation; Phoenix
Dr. Tim Kimmel, President, Family Matters; PhoenixDr. Gary Kinnaman, Pastor at Large, Word of Grace Church; Mesa
Rev. Michael Ledner, Senior Pastor, Desert Streams Chapel; Scottsdale
Rev. Jorge Macias, Senior Pastor, Neighborhood Ministries; Phoenix
Rev. Sandy Mason, Senior Pastor, Desert View Bible Church; Phoenix
Rev. Bill Hamilton, Minister; Phoenix, AZ
Rev. Gary Nelson, Senior Pastor, Vineyard Christian Fellowship of Scottsdale
Rev. Tom Parker, Director, Fuller Theological Seminary - Southwest Campus; Phoenix
Rev. Vermon Pierre, Lead Pastor, Roosevelt Community Church; Phoenix
Rev. Mark Roberts, Pastor, OnePlace Church; Phoenix
Rev. Dr. Benjamin N. Thomas, Sr., Senior Minister, Tanner Chapel African Methodist Episcopal Church; Phoenix
Rev. William Thrall, Senior Pastor, Neighborhood Ministries; Phoenix
Environmental and Financial Roadblocks to the South Mountain Freeway
The Loop 202 freeway construction through South Mountain Park/Preserve is a violation of federal environmental rules and regulations and an exception would have to be granted provided there are no feasible alternatives. There is only a slim chance that the Federal Highway Administration would grant an exception and that decision would certainly be challenged in court. An unsuccessful court challenge could still delay construction several years. Completion of construction could then be 12-15 years from now. The opposition of the Gila River Indian Community to construction through South Mountain Park/ Preserve only further decreases the chances of approval of an Environmental Impact Statement.
The second issue is the $1.7 billion freeway cost is escalating. The cost of oil may have already driven up the cost by $200 to $300 million and inflation over time will add another $300 million to the cost.
Can we afford to continue to pursue this project or would we be better off using the scarce resources to address immediate needs such as the Broadway curve? I would hope most folks would agree that the South Mountain Freeway needs to be stopped!