A coalition of religious, business, and community groups called for immigration reform at a news conference today inside Central United Methodist Church in Detroit.

Members of the Detroit-based Metropolitan Organizing Strategy Enabling Strength (MOSES) declared their support for an immigration bill introduced this morning in the U.S. House of Representatives that would give visas to hundreds of thousands of undocumented immigrants per year and toughen border security.

U.S. Reps. Luis V. Gutierrez, D-Illinois, and Jeff Flake, R-Arizona, introduced the bill, called the STRIVE Act — Security Through Regularized Immigration and a Vibrant Economy.

It would allow about 400,000 undocumented immigrants per year to become U.S. citizens, provided they go through certain requirements, such as paying back taxes, a fine, and going through a criminal background check.

With millions of undocumented immigrants in the U.S., supporters of the bill say a solution is needed.

“We have a broken immigration system,” said Noel Saleh, president of the board at the Dearborn-based Arab Community Center for Economic and Social Services.

“The reason we have 12 million undocumented aliens in the U.S. is because our economy is basically sending out an invitation to them to come here and keep our economy moving…,” he said. “We wouldn’t have orange juice on the table if it wasn’t for our undocumented workers in the fields.”

Father Tom Sepulveda, pastor of Saint Anne de Detroit Catholic Church, where the majority of worshippers are immigrants, said that immigration reform is needed to help many in metro Detroit and the economy.

“It will help strengthen the city…by keeping a labor force that has done an awful lot of work to keep the city going,” Sepulveda said.

“Immigration reform is extremely important,” to metro Detroit, given its large Latino and Muslim immigration communities, said Dawud Walid, head of the Michigan branch of the Council on American-Islamic Relations.


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