Immigration Reform is a Christian Issue

On Friday, June 19th, over 750 influential Latino Evangelical clergy and leaders converged on Washington, D.C., to pray for our … Continued

On Friday, June 19th, over 750 influential Latino Evangelical clergy and leaders converged on Washington, D.C., to pray for our country and its leaders, talk with our members of Congress about immigration reform, housing, etc, and hear from our President and Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano.

Latino/a evangelicals where lead by the Rev. Luis Cortés, the president and founder of Esperanza. By all accounts Esperanza is the largest and most active Latino evangelical organization in the country and has hosted the National Hispanic Prayer Breakfast for the past 6 years. The leadership of Esperanza has over 12,000 congregations and over 500 not-for-profit faith organizations in its network. In the last several years the National Hispanic Prayer breakfast has been attended by President Obama, President George W. Bush, Senator John McCain, Secretary Hilary Clinton, and members of Congress from all sides of the political spectrum.

This year one message was made clear at the breakfast. What is that message? The millions of Latino/a evangelicals are calling for fair and humane immigration reform now. This is not just a political issue this is a moral, spiritual issue that cannot wait.

Over 2/3 of Americans agree that the immigration system is broken and is in need of reform. Evangelical clergy are asking for a workable reform that respects the law and conserves human dignity. Not reforming is not a viable option; people will remain in the shadows and families will continually be separated. A way has to be made for people to earn a path to citizenship; even if this means paying a fine, and creating a line for the close to 12 million undocumented immigrants.

The clergy gathered at the Esperanza National Hispanic Prayer Breakfast are people of faith and compassion. We believe in finding a balance between justice and mercy. There is a way forward that respects the law, and honors human dignity. The voices who say that this is not possible have not understood U.S. ingenuity and our incredible capacity to find workable solutions. Moreover, voices that argue for a reform that does not provide a path to citizenship underestimate this countries’ incredible legacy and capacity for welcoming the stranger. This welcoming the stranger has always honored existing citizens while creating paths that are true to Emma Lazarus’ claim, “Bring me your poor,your tired, your hungry….” It is also part of the ancient Christian ethics of hospitality and generosity.

We heard President Obama commit to immigration reform as a Presidential candidate. We know heard him repeat that commitment at the breakfast. Our prayer now is for legislative action. The Hispanic Congressional Caucus and leaders like Congressman Luis Gutierrez have led a tour around the country emphasizing the impact of this issue for thousand of U.S. citizens. While we understand the need for dealing with the economic crisis, health care reform, and the challenges to totalitarianism all over the world. We believe that this Administration and Congress have the capacity to enact comprehensive immigration reform while responding to these issues responsibly. We earnestly expect that this will not be delayed nor denied.

Future generations and millions of people of faith committed to loving our neighbors and welcoming the stranger pray for comprehensive and humane immigration reform now.

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  • sturun

    Please, quick, where do I click for comments that are incomprensible as well as offensive?

  • Farnaz1Mansouri1

    I’m sure there is some reason why we must be forever harangued with evangelical opining. Just wish someone would explain the motive for this continual verbal spillage.Is there no way to stop this blather? How do you know what Jesus wants? Did he tell you? Do you have it in writing?Puhleeez.

  • quietpilgrim

    America needs to face up to the disconnect between its popular self image (Statue of Liberty, give me your tired, your poor,…) and the treatment of immigrants, especially hispanic immigrants. People of all faiths, but especially those who serve Christ, should see the pain caused by the current immigration laws and ask themselves whether their values are set by the law of God or the law of man.Not the self-righteous, “God has given me a message and license to ram it down your throat.” law of God, but the gentle, feeling love of God, both love of the believer for God and God’s love for the all people. Our hispanic brothers and sisters took great chances, sometimes risking death, to be here, for jobs and living situations often stripped of the basic rights we as Americans say belong to all. Where is out compassion? Are we so insecure that we cannot share?A responsible immigration policy with documented entry using modern identity tracking techniques would allow those who come to work and be responsible members of our society to come in at the front door, leaving the back door of the desert and cargo container to those who would come to do harm. Enforcement and border security would be simplfied – anyone entering “through the back door” would almost certainly be trying to evade the accountability of the open front door.It’s time to move ahead with meaningful reform – all people of all faiths, and those of no faith, should unite to address this basic human rights issue. Greed and self-centeredness may be basic American behaviors, but we cannot let them become basic American values.