News & Media

Faith Communities Respond to President’s Immigration Speech, See Hope for Roadmap to Citizenship

PICO National Network

January 29, 2013


January 29, 2013

CONTACT: Meredith MacKenzie, Rabinowitz/Dorf Communications, office: (202) 265-3000, cell: (202) 427-2007; meredith@rabinowitz-dorf.com


Faith Communities Respond to President’s Immigration Speech, See Hope for Roadmap to Citizenship

Newly launched “Campaign for Citizenship” will organize faith community in support of citizenship for 11 million new Americans


LAS VEGAS, NV—President Obama’s speech officially marks the starting bell for the immigration reform debate to begin in Congress. Now that the president has made clear that immigration is a top priority in his legislative agenda, we expect the president to stay engaged and for members of Congress from both parties to move forward without delay to ensure that 2013 is the year for immigration reform that gives full citizenship to 11 million aspiring Americans to become law.

“We are encouraged by President Obama’s commitment to creating a roadmap to citizenship for our neighbors, friends and parishioners who are aspiring Americans,” said Fr. Jesús Nieto-Ruiz a Roman Catholic priest from Oakland, California who is part of PICO's Campaign for Citizenship and who attended the president’s immigration speech in Las Vegas today. “Too many families are suffering after having been separated from their loved ones and are living in fear. A roadmap to citizenship is the only way to stop the pain and suffering of immigrant American families. We are hopeful that the president’s remarks today signal a fundamental understanding that citizenship is the only solution that is consistent with American values and the beliefs of every religious faith.”

PICO National Network is organizing the faith community to ensure that full citizenship is the main focus of immigration reform legislation. On January 17, PICO kicked off its national Campaign for Citizenship with visits to 62 Congressional offices and an event demonstrating the impact of current policies on immigrant families. The “Separated Family Supper Table” event, which featured the testimony of families torn apart by the nation’s broken immigration system, showed the urgent need for citizenship to be the focus of reform legislation.

During February and March, PICO will deploy 65 community organizers and train 2,500 grassroots citizenship champions in 15 states and 45 congressional districts to organize their neighbors and friends to push for immigration reform that includes citizenship provisions.

“The Campaign for Citizenship will work with both Republican and Democratic members of Congress to make sure they hear loud and clear that citizenship is a litmus test for Latino voters and all people of faith committed to immigration reform,” said Bishop Angel Marcial, Administrative Bishop for the Southeast Hispanic Region of the Church of God and a leader of PICO United Florida, who was also in Las Vegas for President Obama’s address.

As a multi-faith network of clergy and people of faith, PICO believes that citizenship is the only moral response to the current, broken immigration system – a system that has had disastrous impact on immigrant families. With more than 410,000 deportations last year, immigrant families have been torn apart and forced to live in fear and uncertainty. Millions of new Americans currently live separated from loved ones and at risk of exploitation from unscrupulous employers, lawyers and vendors.

Today’s announcement comes after a massive organizing effort during the 2012 election cycle through which the immigrant community and its allies, including people of faith, made it clear that immigration is a personal and moral issue – and that the president must lead to create a clear roadmap to citizenship.

“Now that both Democrats and Republicans are coming to a consensus on addressing the urgent need for immigration reform, we expect that the dialogue will focus on creating a roadmap to citizenship for the 11 million aspiring new Americans in our midst,” said Gordon Whitman, policy director for PICO. “The majority of Americans support immigration reform, and it is up our elected officials from both parties to move swiftly and with determination.”



PICO National Network is the largest grassroots, faith-based organizing network in the United States.  PICO works with more than 1,200 religious congregations through 60 local federations and state networks. More information at www.piconetwork.org.