Evangelicals Mobilize to Capitol Hill on Immigration Reform
On the same day that the Senate introduced immigration reform legislation last week, hundreds of megachurch pastors, denominational leaders, heads of evangelical organizations and other leaders descended upon Washington, D.C.for the first-ever national “Evangelical Day of Prayer and Action on Immigration Reform.”
The Day of Action kicked off with a press conference on Capitol Hill and will continue with a morning worship service of hundreds of evangelical leaders from Arizona, Arkansas, California, Colorado, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, New Hampshire, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Virginia and Wisconsin.
Since its inception in June 2012, the Evangelical Immigration Table has released immigration ad campaigns in Christian radio in key states, led letter-writing campaigns, and launched national prayer challenges like the “I Was a Stranger Challenge” and the G92 Conferences at universities all over the U.S. The “I Was a Stranger Challenge” called on elected leaders to join over 10,000 Christians in reading a verse a day for 40 days and learn about God’s heart on immigration. The G92 Conferences have energized young evangelicals like never before. In this school year, 7 universities have hosted these conferences to discuss and plan for immigration reform.
Throughout the day, delegations of evangelical leaders are scheduled to meet with 80 Congressional representatives and their staff to discuss the evangelical support for fair and practical reform that includes an earned path to citizenship.
The following quotes can be attributed to evangelical speakers at today’s Capitol Hill press conference:
Rev. Gabriel Salguero, Pastor, The Lamb’s Church and President, National Latino Evangelical Coalition (NaLEC):
“The time for immigration reform is now. NaLEC remains hopeful that we will cross this rubicon with strong bi-partisan support. Now is the time for courageous leadership. The 7.8 million Hispanic evangelicals are looking to see real leadership not partisanship on immigration reform.”
Jenny Yang, Vice President of Advocacy and Policy, World Relief:
“We are encouraged that after months of careful negotiation and deliberation, a group of bipartisan Senators will soon introduce an immigration bill that reflects many of the principles World Relief has been advocating for. While the introduction of the bill is just one step forward in a long process, we applaud the actions taken by the Senate and believe such leadership from Members of Congress and the President will continue to be critical in the months ahead.”
Dr. Richard Land, President, Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission, Southern Baptist Convention:
“The contentious issue of immigration reform is rending the social fabric of the nation in ways that are far easier to rend than they are to mend. It is well past time for our elected representatives to quit behaving like politicians who are focused on the next election, and start focusing on the next generation as statesmen and deal with this issue in a fair and responsible way. Comprehensive immigration reform must secure the border, secure the workplace, recognize the dignity of each and every undocumented worker, and find a pathway to earned legal status and or citizenship for those who desire it. There should be no room for second class citizens in our democracy. Those who desire citizenship should be able to earn it.”
Timothy Goeglein, Vice President of External Relations, Focus on the Family:
“If our immigration challenges are to be effectively addressed, then we need a balance of compassion, respect for the rule of law, and common sense. We can find that balance, rooted in what is best for families, marriages, and kids. We at Focus on the Family are dedicated to keeping families together as they comply with entrance requirements.”
Bill Hybels, Senior Pastor, Willow Creek Community Church (South Barrington, Illinois):
“Immigration is an urgent issue that directly affects many individuals within Willow Creek Community Church and thousands of other local churches around the country. I’m encouraged that our elected officials are now coming together to address this topic. I join many within our local church family in praying that they find consensus.”
Kenton Beshore, Senior Pastor, Mariners Church (Irvine, California):
“The biblical mandate is clear that we are to love and care for the poor, orphaned, widowed and strangers; namely immigrants. For over twenty-five years, our church has cared for those on the margins of our society. It was through our work in one of the most impacted cities, west of the Mississippi, that we came face to face with the effects of our broken immigration system.”
Dr. David Uth, Senior Pastor, First Baptist Church Orlando:
“I’ve met so many families whose lives are broken by the system. I want to find a way to help them, influence the debate on immigrants and immigration, not to write it, but to bring it to a discussion. No matter their immigration status, if they are part of our community we will minister to them. We, as evangelical Christians, travel halfway around the world to bring hope to people. Why should we not reach out in our own neighborhoods?”
Dr. Barbara Williams-Skinner, Co-Chair. National African America, Clergy Network:
“The Black evangelical community stands in solidarity with our Latino brothers and sisters for comprehensive immigration reform that respects the dignity and right of every person to a better life.”
Dr. Carlos Moran, Board Member, National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference:
“As Evangelicals, as born again believers, as the spiritual heirs to the mantles of Billy Graham and Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., we affirm our conviction that it is the time to reconcile border security with security of our values; values that include faith, hope and charity. Values that prompt us to worship our Lord and welcome the stranger.For at the end of the day, passing immigration reform is not, as Rev. Samuel Rodriguez reminds us, about advancing the agenda of the donkey or the elephant. Immigration reform is about living out the agenda of the lamb.”
Former and current Attorneys General echo bipartisan call for immigration reform
After the second of many Senate Judiciary Committee hearings that have been scheduled to debate immigration reform, the Service Employees International Union (SEIU) Secretary-Treasurer Eliseo Medina released the following statement:
“Today we heard from immigration reform supporters, ranging from National Council of Farmer Cooperatives to the Champion Forest Baptist Church, underscoring the many valuable reasons and motivations to tackle our country’s immigration system with a commonsense solution. The magnitude of bipartisan support heard from the experts and Senators reflects the public’s readiness to pass immigration reform worthy of what Senator Dick Durbin described as ‘America’s story.’
“This is the consensus that continues to grow as demonstrated by 76 former state attorneys general who submitted a signed letter to the Senate Judiciary Committee and the National Association of Attorneys General’s letter to Congress. Like many on today’s panel, these bipartisan sets of attorneys general understand the need to improve our laws and pave a roadmap to citizenship for the millions of aspiring citizens who are eager to fully contribute to our nation and economy.
“As the debate moves forward in the coming days, we will be sure to hear more from Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach and others who ignore the American mandate for commonsense immigration reform and would rather maintain arguments for ‘self-deportation’ or obstruct fixing our immigration system once and for all. They are extremists and out of step with the American public.
“The opportunity is ripe to address the problems that have stemmed from our broken system. While there is still more to do, the immigration bill that now stands in the Senate is the right step forward. The American public will be vigilant and willing to work to pass a bill that fulfills our national values.”
Wade Henderson, president and CEO of The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights:
“Actual civil rights leaders view immigration reform as one of the defining civil and human rights issue of our time. The opinions expressed in today’s press conference are not shared by most African Americans, civil rights leaders, members of the Congressional Black Caucus, or any other significant constituency in the African American community. African Americans are certainly not monolithic in their thinking on this or any other issue, but we know that the nation’s immigration system is broken and that the status quo does not serve our economic or long-term interests. As a nation, we are stronger when we focus onreal solutions that work and on the values that unite us. Divisive and baselessrhetoric has no place in a serious national conversation about immigration reform.”
‘Immigration Reform Not a Threat to Social Security
The National Committee to Preserve Social Security and Medicare will join the National Council on Aging and the National Hispanic Council on Aging in a media teleconference to discuss immigration reform and its impact on programs serving seniors and people with disabilities. The National Committee will release its new analysis of immigration reform and Social Security on Wednesday.
“Comprehensive immigration reform is not a threat to Social Security. In fact, earlier comprehensive reform proposals moderately strengthened Social Security’s financing, and the bills under consideration today should do the same. By bringing undocumented workers out of the shadows of our economy and into its mainstream, immigration reform has the potential to strengthen Social Security and accelerate overall economic growth.” …Max Richtman, NCPSSM President/CEO
The National Council on Aging and the National Hispanic Council on Aging have also examined immigration reform’s impact on vital programs in their policy brief, “Immigration Reform: Key Issues for Older Adults and People with Disabilities.”, and will provide their findings in Wednesday’s teleconference.
NCLR Urges Congress to Press on Gang of Eight Bill
Janet Murguía, President and CEO of NCLR (National Council of La Raza), testified at a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing on comprehensive immigration reform legislation, the second time she has been asked to testify before Congress in recent months. Murguía restated her full support for moving forward with the immigration debate and thanked the bipartisan Gang of Eight for introducing the legislation last week. The legislation, although not perfect, is a strong starting point to work from in order to pass immigration reform this year.
“The majority of Americans across this country understand that fixing our current immigration system is vital to the health of this nation and that we cannot allow this opportunity to slip through our fingers once again,” said Murguía. “The bill introduced last week establishes a solid foundation for a modernized and effective immigration system that protects families and workers and provides a roadmap to citizenship for millions of aspiring Americans. Congress must put aside their partisan differences and capitalize on the fantastic work led by their colleagues to deliver a solution that serves our nation’s best interests.”
To read Janet Murguía’s full testimony, please visit www.nclr.org/immigration.
Immigration Bill Includes Important Worker Protections
“This bill comes at an historic moment,” said Sarah Rempel, policy attorney at CDM (Centro de los Derechos del Migrante), “Congress has the opportunity and the responsibility to create a just and fair immigration system that protects and promotes human dignity.”
For years, CDM has been working with migrant workers in Mexico and the United States to protect their labor and human rights. During this time, we have uncovered widespread abuses throughout the process, including in the recruitment of these workers. CDM has published several reports in the past few months documenting many of these abuses, including recruitment fraud, discrimination and wage theft, among others.
“This bill includes crucial provisions that address the widespread recruitment abuses that CDM has documented,” said Rachel Micah-Jones, CDM’s Executive Director. “The proposal introduced yesterday is a first step in ensuring that migrant workers’ rights are protected and defended.”
Read CDM’s analysis of the Senate’s Immigration Bill here.
Nearly eighty percent of Catholic voters support earned citizenship
A large majority of Catholics support immigration reform legislation that provides a path to citizenship for the 11 million undocumented immigrants in the country, according to a recent survey sponsored by the Office of Migration Policy andPublic Affairsof the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB).
Overall, 77 percent of Catholic voters support a proposal that allows earned citizenship through meeting requirements like registration, paying a fine, paying taxes and taking English classes, the survey shows.
Archbishop José H. Gómez ofLos Angeles, chairman of the USCCB Committee on Migration, embraced the results of the survey. “It is clear that Catholics understand the importance of this issue,” Archbishop Gómez said. “As an immigrant church, Catholics from all walks of life understand the migration experience and accept the Gospel’s call to welcome the stranger.”
Most Catholics support the bishops’ call for the creation of an immigration system that respects basic human rights and dignity while ensuring the integrity of our borders, according to survey results. As immigration reform takes center stage in the public square, this data makes clear that the Catholic population is behind current efforts to reform the broken immigration system.
Archbishop Gómez called upon Catholics to engage their elected officials on behalf of immigration reform. “I encourage Catholics across the nation to contact their legislators in support of humane immigration reform, which would help our brothers and sisters come out of the shadows and become full members of our communities,” he said.
More information can be found at www.justiceforimmigrants.org