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Catholic, Evangelical Leaders Release Open Letter to Congress on Immigration Reform

**For a recording of today’s call click here.**

WASHINGTON, D.C., FEBRUARY 26, 2014 — In an unprecedented showing of unity on the issue, evangelical and Catholic leaders are joining together to send an open letter to members of Congress, underscoring the urgent need for commonsense immigration reform this year.

On a press call today, Catholic bishops and national evangelical leaders announced the release of the letter and urged Congress to move forward on long overdue reform rooted in biblical principles.

The following are quotes from national evangelical and Catholic leaders on today’s call:

Leith Anderson, President, National Association of Evangelicals:
“Every day of delay is a vote for keeping immigration exactly the way it is right now. Since everyone seems to agree that our current immigration system is broken then everyone should be voting for change.”

Bishop Nicholas DiMarzio, Diocese of Brooklyn, N.Y.:
“In this debate, often the humanitarian consequences of our broken system are ignored. Families are ripped apart, migrant workers are exploited, and human beings continue to die in the desert. This suffering must end.”

Rev. Samuel Rodriguez, President, National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference:
“It’s a new day. Evangelicals and Catholic leaders join together in the spirit of the following proclamation: It is morally reprehensible and counter to the teachings of Christ to continue to sacrifice 11 million lives on the altar of political expediency. As Evangelicals, we join our Catholic brothers and sisters in affirming our conviction that this is the time to reconcile border security with the security of our values; values that include faith and family. For it takes conviction to speak truth, courage to do justice and spiritual fortitude to stand on the right side of history. Now is the time.”

Jim Wallis, President, Sojourners:
“When it comes to commonsense immigration reform, the Christian community strongly believes it is time to end the moral crisis created by our broken immigration system. We’re speaking with a unified voice today because all of us — Catholic and evangelical — believe immigration reform should not be a victim of our dysfunctional politics. In an era defined by partisanship, immigration reform should be the great exception, the great exemption, to politics as usual.”

Archbishop Thomas G. Wenski, Archbishop of Miami:
“There is more at stake in this debate than the next election. The outcome will set the tone for the rest of the century. Either we can choose to turn away from our heritage and our track record of integrating immigrants, or we can embrace it and use it to our advantage.”

South Carolina Congressman Mulvaney Attends Latino Town Hall

Congressman Gathers for His First Town Hall Conducted Solely in Spanish

GAFFNEY, S.C., FEBRUARY 18, 2014 — During a Latino Town Hall Monday evening, Republican Congressman Mick Mulvaney (SC-05) heard from his constituents that immigration reform is urgent this year.

At the event, believed to be the first town hall conducted in Spanish by a South Carolina member of Congress, Mulvaney answered questions and spoke to our current immigration system and the prospects for reform in 2014.

The town hall was co-sponsored by Periódico Latino, the Greenville Hispanic Alliance, the Fellowship of Upstate Baptist Latino Pastors and the Evangelical Immigration Table.

The following are quotes from local South Carolina faith leaders at Monday’s event:

Pastor Gregorio Castillo, Hispanic Minister, United Baptist Church, Spartanburg:
“The most important thing for me is to see that there is a group of people in Washington willing to move forward on immigration reform. Maybe it’s not always what we want to see, but we are moving in the right direction. Thanks to Congressman Mulvaney for interacting with us in Spanish — it means so much to our community.”

Dr. Victor Prieto, Hispanic Ministries Consultant, Spartanburg County Baptist Network; Professor of Linguistics and Spanish, North Greenville University:
“The first town hall meeting ever with Hispanics in the Upstate of South Carolina was a success regarding the discussion on immigration. Congressman Mulvaney met with close to 150 Hispanics, which shows two important things: the decision of Hispanics to make their presence felt and their voice heard on issues like immigration reform, and the willingness of Republic leaders to talk about such issues. These two facts give us hope of a sound immigration reform sooner than later. This is not the time to get discouraged or rest!”

Rev. Derrick Smith, Senior Pastor, Kaleidoscope Multi-Ethnic Fellowship, Spartanburg:
“This was the first event I have ever seen where Hispanics in the South finally feel represented by their legislators. Beginning tonight and moving forward, I’m optimistic that the urgent need for immigration reform will get through to our representatives and that it will pass this year.”

Prominent Southern Baptist Faith Leader Embraces Immigration Reform

More Than 200 Evangelical Leaders Have Signed Principles for Reform

WASHINGTON, D.C., FEBRUARY 18, 2014 — Support for immigration reform continues to grow within the evangelical community. Most recently, Paige Patterson, President of Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary and a prominent Southern Baptist leader, signed on to the Evangelical Immigration Table’s Statement of Principles on immigration reform.

“We do not need Congress to act in order to support any party, but in order to take care of those whom God has put in our care,” Dr. Patterson said in a sermon last week at Nueva Vida Baptist Church in Dallas. “God is going to have to change some hearts … A great movement of God is needed and He could do it now.”

Patterson joins more than 200 prominent evangelical leaders who have endorsed the principles. Prominent signatories in the past year include:
•    Jason Allen, President, Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary
•    Tony Evans, Senior Pastor at Oak Cliff Bible Fellowship in Dallas
•    Luis Palau, Founder and CEO, Luis Palau Association
•    William Robinson, Interim President, Council for Christian Colleges & Universities

The Table’s principles call for immigration reform that “respects the God-given dignity of every person, protects the unity of the immediate family, respects the rule of law, guarantees secure national borders, ensures fairness to taxpayers, and establishes a path toward legal status and/or citizenship for those who qualify and who wish to become permanent residents.”

In addition to the influential leaders who have signed on to the Table’s principles, the Evangelical Immigration Table has launched a successful #Pray4Reform campaign, mobilizing thousands of prayer partners across the nation. Op-eds from Table signatories have appeared in newspapers in 16 states and national outlets including FoxNews.com, Politico and the Christian Post.

The Evangelical Immigration Table is a broad coalition of evangelical organizations and leaders advocating for immigration reform consistent with biblical values.

 

ICYMI: Conservative Evangelical Leaders Underscore Urgency for Immigration Reform

WASHINGTON, D.C., FEBRUARY 14, 2014 — In an op-ed published this morning on FoxNews.com, influential evangelical leaders Rev. Samuel Rodriguez and Mathew Staver challenge those who would delay immigration reform and urge Congress to move forward this year.

“Getting to ‘Yes’ on immigration reform this year is urgent for many reasons. We need a system that restores the rule of law, that secures our borders, that jumpstarts economic growth, and that keeps families — including many within our local churches — from being divided,” write Rodriguez, president of the National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference, and Staver, chairman of the Liberty Counsel and Dean of the Liberty University Law School.

“We take our cues from Scripture, which makes clear both that we are to welcome and extend hospitality to immigrants and that we ought to respect and honor the law,” they continue. “Our current immigration quagmire fails on both counts … Across the country, we are praying that Congress will have the courage to do what is right: to get to ‘Yes’ on immigration this year.”

 

The Evangelical Immigration Table is a broad coalition of evangelical organizations and leaders advocating for immigration reform consistent with biblical values.

ICYMI: Evangelical Leaders Call on Congress to Act on Immigration Reform

WASHINGTON, D.C., FEBRUARY 7, 2014 — National evangelical leaders are encouraging movement this year on immigration reform legislation following House Speaker John Boehner’s comments on immigration reform Thursday.

In a Christian Post article today, top evangelical leaders underscored the moral imperatives for reform and the terrible costs of inaction.

“Right now, our nation’s leaders have a rare window of opportunity in which to pass a reform that is good for all Americans,” Dr. Russell Moore, president of the Southern Baptist Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission, says in the article. “I encourage our legislators to continue moving forward on the House Republican standards released last week and seize this moment to create an immigration system that works. We cannot keep putting off this issue that is so important to our churches, communities and economy.”

The Rev. Samuel Rodriguez, president of the National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference, adds, “This moment is unique, and it won’t last long. I am praying that [Congress] will not squander it. Our broken immigration system is causing harm in our churches and our communities today, and we need a new process today, not years down the road.”

“With a strong majority of Americans, including evangelicals, wanting leaders to fix our broken immigration system, immigration reform is going to happen,” says Jim Wallis, president of Sojourners. “The only question is how many families will be broken up and how much our communities have to suffer until Washington acts.

“My prayer is that Speaker Boehner and other leaders will be mindful of this reality and continue seeking a way forward. This is the year that commonsense immigration reform needs to pass.”

The Evangelical Immigration Table is a broad coalition of evangelical organizations and leaders advocating for immigration reform consistent with biblical values.

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ICYMI: National and Local Evangelical Leaders Applaud Republican Action on Immigration Standards

WASHINGTON, D.C. — Following Thursday’s release of House Republican standards for immigration reform, evangelical leaders from across the country have offered support for this step forward.

National Evangelical Immigration Table leaders praised the movement on immigration, while local leaders in states such as Texas, Georgia, Florida, South Carolina, North Carolina, California and Michigan offered local perspectives on why immigration reform must move ahead.

In addition, evangelical pastors from Florida, North Carolina, Texas and South Carolina joined national evangelical voices Monday on a press call applauding House Republicans’ efforts and highlighting the urgency for legislation this Congress.

Citing the moral imperatives for immigration reform, national and local evangelical leaders across the country are bolstering broad, bipartisan immigration reform rooted in the biblical values of welcoming the stranger and upholding the rule of law.

The Evangelical Immigration Table is a broad coalition of evangelical organizations and leaders advocating for immigration reform consistent with biblical values.

Florida Faith Leaders Applaud Republican Standards on Immigration Reform

Major Commitment from House Leadership Propels Reform Forward

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — On Thursday, House Republicans released their standards for immigration reform. The standards were met with broad support among top Florida faith leaders, who lauded the movement toward much-needed reform and called on Congress to pass reform this year.

The following are quotes from Florida faith leaders:

Kevin Johnson, Missions Pastor, New Life Christian Fellowship, Jacksonville:
“I am not a politician therefore I cannot write legislation, but I am a Christian therefore I can love. Something’s not right when 88% of white evangelicals say that their views on immigration are primarily influenced by concerns other than their Christian faith. If we’re not looking at people through the eyes of love, then we’ll never be able to make disciples of all ethnic groups.”

Darren Sullivan, Executive Pastor of Multiplication Chets Creek Church, Jacksonville:
“Immigration reform is not only a moral imperative but a Biblical one too. All Americans will benefit from our governmental leaders working together to fix this problem. A strong immigration policy leads to a strong economy for all to benefit from.”

David Tarkington, Pastor, First Baptist Church, Orange Park:
“When it comes to comprehensive immigration reform, political identifiers and lines are drawn immediately. This issue has been kicked down the road for generations and the time has now come to implement a workable, honest, and constitutionally sound solution…. While the standards the Republican leadership of Congress released for an overhaul of the nation’s immigration laws are not perfect (and neither is the Senate’s proposal) they mark the start of a discussion that will eventually lead to reform.”

Jose Vega, Pastor, Renacer Iglesia Bautista, Jacksonville:
“As a Hispanic pastor, I am pleased to see that the House Republicans are setting a pace towards immigration reform. My hope is that they will reflect biblical values. As a minister I experience with members of the church the sadness of the separation from their love ones and children. I am left to answer questions such as ‘where is my dad’ or a wife asking ‘what can I do now?’ Real immigration reform will bring peace of mind to many families in Jacksonville today and provide certainty of family unity tomorrow.”

Georgia Faith Leaders Applaud Republican Standards on Immigration Reform

Major Commitment from House Leadership Propels Reform Forward

ATLANTA, Ga. — On Thursday, House Republicans released their standards for immigration reform. The standards were met with broad support among top Georgia faith leaders, who lauded the movement toward much-needed reform and called on Congress to pass reform this year.

The following are quotes from Georgia faith leaders:

Dr. Shawn Duncan, Community Chaplain, EIRO, Atlanta:
“GOP Leaders, thank you for coming to the table to outline principles that offer a worthwhile place to begin. I especially am grateful for the respect and dignity extended to the undocumented youth among us. As a faith leader who is committed to the biblical command to welcome the stranger, I ask, and will continue praying, that you will stay open to dialogue so that a just and fair path forward can be created in 2014.”

Dr. David Gushee, Distinguished University Professor of Christian Ethics and Director of the Center for Theology and Public Life, Mercer University, Atlanta:
“I applaud the House GOP for releasing its standards for immigration reform. This is an important step toward reaching agreement on this critical issue.”

Rev. Jim Moon, Jr., Lead Pastor and Elder, Crosspoint Encuentro Church, Smyrna:
“It is time for America’s government leaders to work together to ensure life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. It is time to seek justice for the oppressed and improve liberty for all within our borders. It is time for immigration reform.”

Raymond Partolan, President, Student Government Association, Mercer University, Atlanta:
“Although there are some aspects of the House GOP’s document which I disagree, I do acknowledge that the establishment of these principles provides a framework for the Democrats and Republicans to work together in a bipartisan manner to bring about the necessary changes to our country’s broken immigration system. It’s pleasing to me, especially, to see that Speaker Boehner and his colleagues are willing to move forward with a pathway towards legal residence and citizenship for certain qualified youth.”

John Ward, Church Mobilizer, Encompass World Partners, Atlanta:
“My hope is that this is beginning of the end to a very long journey for millions of people who have been waiting for years to walk the path towards legal statues. The Republican standards for immigration reform are a way forward and a win for our friends in Atlanta and around the country. We are praying for the right outcomes in the days ahead.”

Jim Wehner, Founder and President, FCS Urban Ministries, Atlanta:
“I am glad to see the Republican standards for immigration reform in writing. Though there is much to work on to improve these standards, they form a solid starting place.  It makes me hopeful that we could be moving towards reforming a system that we all agree is broken.”

Texas Faith Leaders Applaud Republican Standards on Immigration Reform

Major Commitment from House Leadership Propels Reform Forward

AUSTIN — Last week, House Republicans released standards for immigration reform. The standards were met with broad support among top Texas faith leaders, who lauded the movement toward much-needed reform and called on Congress to pass reform this year.

In addition, on a press call today, Pastor David Galvan, Lead Pastor at New Life Baptist Church in Dallas joined local pastors from Florida, North Carolina and South Carolina, as well as national evangelical leaders, to speak about the standards and the momentum they create for immigration reform to pass in 2014. A recording of the call is available here.

The following are quotes from Texas faith leaders:

Pastor David Galvan, Lead Pastor, New Life Baptist Church, Dallas:
“Immigration Reform is overdue. I applaud the House GOP conference for opening the door to a hurting people and for laying out a framework for reform. Many people have been torn apart by a system in great need of repair and these principles are a positive move forward. I have great admiration for the tough choices that have been made by our leaders and know that this represents a bright future for many.”

Dr. Rick Hertless, Evangelist, Singer, Author, Radio Talk Host of “His Gospel Power”:
“I’m very supportive of the GOP Standards for Immigration Reform. And I think highlighting tighter border security and a functioning visa system are at the heart of most American’s concerns. If these can be addressed in a bi-partisan fashion, then true reform is likely. But it would be un-American if reform led the government to institute two classes of people in the US, a class with full rights and a lesser class without full rights.”

Pastor Marivel Reyes, Lead Pastor, El Shaddai Pentacostal Church, Austin:
“Everyone knows the administration has untapped authority to help undocumented immigrants. The release of the GOP Standards for Immigration Reform, I pray, indicates Speaker Boehner may have some untapped ability to build bipartisan support for reform in 2014. That would give real hope to millions who are caught in a system that is in great need of repair.”

Pastor Ademir Simões Ferreira, Music, Worship and Creative Arts Pastor, Bible Baptist Church, Pflugerville:
“The GOP Standards for Immigration Reform are a major step forward and I applaud their courage. They are major because if enacted into law they would likely take away the daily threat of deportation of the undocumented as long as they are law abiding in other ways; they would be authorized to work and they would have the ability to travel in and out of the United States. Those are critical first steps to a major overhaul of a very archaic, randomly enforced, outdated and broken immigration system. I pray Speaker Boehner continues to lead on this critical issue.”

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The Evangelical Immigration Table is a broad coalition of evangelical organizations and leaders advocating for immigration reform consistent with biblical values.

Local Faith Leaders Laud Republican Standards on Immigration Reform

**For a recording of today’s call click here.**

WASHINGTON, D.C., FEBRUARY 3, 2014 — Evangelical pastors from Florida, North Carolina, South Carolina and Texas joined national evangelical leaders today to highlight their support for the House Republican standards for immigration reform and discuss the path forward on immigration reform rooted in biblical values.

The standards discuss ways to reform our broken immigration system in a way that secures our nation’s borders, meets the needs of employers and addresses legalization, including citizenship for DREAMers.

The following are quotes from national and local evangelical leaders on today’s call:

Pastor Jason Lee, Oak Grove Baptist Church, Spartanburg, S.C.:
“As an evangelical pastor, I believe immigration reform is an urgent priority first because of a Christian commitment from scripture that repeatedly tells us to welcome and love the immigrants in our midst and seek justice in our cities. I am encouraged that the Republican principles announced last week for immigration reform will help move us closer to fix our broken and outdated immigration system and that there is progress to move forward. Our current system has led us to a moral crisis. The GOP’s principles are a step to move forward and have bipartisan solutions that will help protect the border, grow our economy and provide opportunities for undocumented immigrants to obtain legal status and provide a way for them to come out from living in the shadows.”

Pastor Evelyn Chaparro, The River Church, Tampa, Fla.:
“As evangelical leaders we call for a bipartisan solution that will help honor the God-given dignity of every human, keep families together, respect the rule of law, ensure fairness to taxpayers, and establish a path to legal status and citizenship for those who qualify and wish to become lawful residents. For me, the pain in the life of the immigrant is my motivation, and I believe that these biblical principles can unite us to come about with the best solution. We must move forward on what all of us care about: passage of comprehensive immigration reform.”

Pastor Alex Cosio, Apex Baptist Church, Apex, N.C.:
“I am thankful and hopeful for this major step toward immigration reform. A comprehensive reform will help our country to continue to enrich our cultural diversity. The U.S. is a country blessed with many cultures and national backgrounds all coming together as ‘one nation under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.’”
Pastor David Galvan, New Life Baptist Church, Dallas:
“Immigration Reform is overdue. I applaud the House GOP conference for opening the door to a hurting people and for laying out a framework for reform. Many people have been torn apart by a system in great need of repair, and these principles are a positive move forward. I have great admiration for the tough choices that have been made by our leaders and know that this represents a bright future for many.”

Noel Castellanos, CEO, Christian Community Development Association, Chicago:
“Today, it is significant that many evangelical leaders are speaking boldly in favor of fixing our nation’s broken immigration system. We will continue to pray for our elected officials, as pastors and Christian leaders across our nation, that we might work together at this critical time to pass bipartisan reform that will allow our nation to flourish for all.”

Galen Carey, Vice President of Government Relations, National Association of Evangelicals:
“We are pleased that the issue of immigration reform is being debated by both parties in the House and in the Senate. The details of legislation are still being worked out, but we commend the forward movement by both Democrats and Republicans to address the needs of immigrants and our country. In a very politically charged climate, immigration reform is one issue that does have true bipartisan support. We are pleased with the introduction of these principles and will continue to press for immigration reform that is consistent with biblical values. As evangelicals we will stand behind our leaders, and we will pray for them as they move forward on legislation that will allow us to reach our full potential as a nation.”

Find additional reactions to the House Republican standards from national evangelical leaders here, and from local evangelical leaders at the following links:
South Carolina
North Carolina
Southern California
Michigan

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