Readout of the President’s Meeting on Commonsense Immigration Reform

This morning, the President, joined by members of his senior staff, met with leaders from the faith community to discuss the need to fix the broken immigration system so that everyone plays by the same rules.  The President thanked the leaders for their support and reiterated his strong commitment to working with Congress in a bipartisan manner so that they can swiftly pass and send a commonsense immigration reform bill to his desk. The leaders expressed their concerns over the impact the broken immigration system is having on families throughout their congregations. The President and the leaders discussed the pillars the President has put forward for reform, including that any bill must include a pathway to earned citizenship, as well as measures to crack down on employers who game the system and exploit both American and immigrant workers, continuing to strengthen our border security, and strengthening the legal immigration system for families, employers, and workers. The President noted that there is good progress being made by a bipartisan group in the Senate, but urged the leaders to continue to make this important issue a priority. The President and the leaders agreed that the diversity of faith communities represented around the table was indicative of the growing consensus across America in support of fixing the broken immigration system. The leaders thanked the President for his leadership, offered a prayer, and agreed to continue working together to move the immigration debate forward in Congress.

Participants in the meeting included:

•         Leith Anderson, National Association of Evangelicals

•         Stephan Bauman, President and CEO, World Relief

•         Bishop Minerva Carcaño, United Methodist Church

•         Rev. Luis Cortés, President, Esperanza

•         Barrett Duke, Southern Baptist Convention

•         Bishop Orlando Findlayter, Senior Pastor, New Hope Christian Fellowship

•         Archbishop José Horacio Gomez, Archdiocese of Los Angeles

•         Mark Hetfield, President and CEO, Hebrew Immigrant Aid Society

•         Rev. Kathryn Lohre, National Council of Churches

•         Imam Mohamed Magid, President, Islamic Society of North America

•         Rev. Samuel Rodriguez, President, National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference

•         Rev. Gabriel Salguero, President, National Latino Evangelical Coalition

•         Dieter Uchtdorf, Second Counselor, Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints

•         Jim Wallis, President and CEO, Sojourners
The following quotes can be attributed to faith leaders who met with the president today.

Dr. Barrett Duke, Vice President for Public Policy and Research, Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission of the Southern Baptist Convention:

“I was very encouraged by the immigration reform meeting with the President today. He spoke clearly about his desire to see us achieve passage of legislation this year. While many details remain to be worked out, the big pieces are in place. Secure borders, workplace enforcement, legal status for undocumented immigrants who qualify, and a citizenship process for those who desire to be U.S. citizens are all within reach.”

Jose Gomez, Archbishop of Los Angeles and Chairman, USCCB Committee on Migration:
“Our collective faith groups are prepared to support just and humane reform of a broken immigration system. With the president’s leadership and cooperation between both parties in Congress, we can achieve this goal within the year. We agree with the president and bipartisan Senate leaders who are stressing the importance of a path to citizenship for the undocumented. We should not sanction a permanent underclass in our society.”

Rev. Samuel Rodriguez, President, National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference:
“Today’s meeting invigorated me with hope and optimism. The president’s resolve in conjunction with evangelical support facilitate the prescription for a comprehensive resolution addressing America’s immigration crisis. I am convinced that with prayer and prophetic activism we will live out Matthew 25 and welcome the stranger in the name of Jesus. The collective commitment to incorporate a pathway to citizenship as an integral part of any legislative solution secures a complete integration process. Both the president and faith leaders understand that citizenship must be earned, yet denying it will create a two-tier society attempting to live one dream: the American dream.”

Rev. Gabriel Salguero, President, National Latino Evangelical Coalition:
“Today’s meeting with President Obama is a clarion sign for Latino Evangelicals that immigration reform is possible. We need strong bipartisan leadership from Republicans and Democrats that finally creates a just and humane solution. Latino Evangelicals stand committed to see this through in ways that provide an earned path to citizenship while addressing any security concerns. Immigration reform now!”

Rev. Jim Wallis, President and CEO, Sojourners:
“The building momentum for immigration reform is proof that it’s still possible to lift up the common good, and not just political ideology, in Washington, D.C. The faith community has called for political action on immigration for years and is encouraged to see the leadership the president is taking. President Obama made clear how high a priority immigration reform is for him and the White House and that the involvement of the faith community will be an integral part of ensuring it passes. If the bully pulpit of the White House and the pulpits of the faith community speak to the moral issues at stake in this debate, we can accomplish a genuine, bipartisan solution to fixing our broken immigration system. I’m leaving the White House today encouraged that it can and will happen.”


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