WASHINGTON, D.C. — Members of the Evangelical Immigration Table and other faith luminaries met with President Obama today to discuss the need for commonsense immigration reform and the building momentum for it in Congress. The meeting took place as evangelical leaders and pastors encourage their flocks to reflect on the Bible’s words regarding how we treat our immigrant neighbors and mobilize in support of a better immigration process.
Evangelical leaders continue to support broad, bipartisan action as leaders in the Senate — four Democrats and four Republicans — develop legislation that will modernize and strengthen our out-of-date immigration process. The 40-day “I Was a Stranger” immigration prayer challenge encourages evangelicals to read a passage of scripture daily that relates to immigrants and pray for immigrants in their communities — and encourage their members of Congress to do the same. In addition, pastors are planning media campaigns in key states such as South Carolina to emphasize the urgent need for reform in 2013, including an eventual road to citizenship.
The following quotes can be attributed to faith leaders who met with the president today.
Stephan Bauman, President and CEO, World Relief:
“In our meeting, we reiterated the importance of the faith community in not just advocating for immigration reform but in being a bridge to provide services to immigrants if immigration reform passes. We specifically encouraged the President to consider the implications of passage of reform and to partner with faith-based organizations in helping immigrants in the integration process, specifically by providing immigrant legal service, and English and civics classes.”
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.