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PRESS RELEASE: Evangelical Leaders Applaud Senators’ Immigration Reform Framework

  PRESS RELEASE For Immediate Release                                                             CONTACT: 202-347-0040 Evangelical Leaders Applaud Senators' Immigration Reform Framework Bipartisan Accord Reinforces Faith Values WASHINGTON, D.C., JANUARY 28, 2013 — This afternoon, a bipartisan group of senators released a framework for broad immigration reform that includes a conditional path to citizenship for undocumented immigrants. The Senators' framework emerges two weeks after the Evangelical Immigration Table, an unprecedented coalition of evangelical leaders across the political spectrum that launched in June 2012, launched the “I Was a Stranger” immigration prayer challenge. These statements can be attributed to Evangelical Immigration Table leaders: Leith Anderson, President, National Association of Evangelicals: "Now is the time for immigration reform. We've settled too long for a broken system, and now the nation is ready for changes that are just, reasonab le and compassionate. Let's make immigration the issue where our political parties can come together and do what is right." Stephan Bauman, President and CEO, World Relief: “We applaud the Senate’s courage and bipartisan nature in proposing a set of principles for immigration reform legislation. The principles include much-needed reforms to our outdated immigration system, and we urge the Senate to pass reforms that include an earned pathway to eventual citizenship, strong support for family unity, and provisions that would facilitate the integration of immigrants into our society in partnership with the faith-based community.  We hope this step forward by the Senate today will lead to a robust and open political process for immigration reform, one we can celebrate within the greater evangelical community. We look forward to working with members in both the Senate and House in coming months to address this critical issue.” Noel Castellanos, CEO, Christian Community Development Association: "The leaders of the Christian Community Development Association (CCDA), which represents hundreds of local organizations working in immigrant communities throughout the nation, applaud the principles released by Senate leaders working to fix our broken immigration. The faith community is ready to stand by a proposal that respects the dignity of the 11 million men, women and children trapped in our current system, provides a fair integration into our U.S. society, and assures the security and prosperity of our nation. We are ready to work together to get immigration reform passed!" Reverend Luis Cortés, President, Esperanza: "We find ourselves in a defining moment, a moment when people of all backgrounds, political persuasions and religious convictions are acknowledging that we must solve this civil and human rights crisis in our country once and for all. We support this bipartisan effort and the immigration reform principles put forth in the senators' proposal, and we thank those who are leading the effort for doing their part. May they experience the full support of a nation and a government ready to fix the broken system we have lived with for far too long." Robert Gittelson, President, Conservatives for Comprehensive Immigration Reform: "It is encouraging that the set of principles released by this important and influential group of senators is very much in line with the principles that we have long been advocating for them to advance. Their outline is balanced and just. While we acknowledge that the 'devil is in the details,' we are optimistic that these reasonable principles will serve as a fair and broad outline that should hopefully lead to solutions that will once and for all solve the very intractable problems inherent in our broken and antiquated immigration system." Dr. Richard Land, President, Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission of the Southern Baptist Convention: "Congress does not often exceed my expectations. But these principles, and this demonstration of bipartisanship by our leaders, certainly have. The senators have introduced principles for a bill that has a true chance of passing. I think they sense this is a real opportunity. Not only should we be encouraged but we should understand that this is truly what St. Paul would call a 'kairos,' or propitious, moment to be seized. The momentum needs to be used to pass significant and helpful immigration reform." Rev. Samuel Rodriguez, President, National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference: "The National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference commends and applauds the principals proposed by United States Senators committed to finding a solution to the immigration crisis. As a member of the Evangelical Immigration Table, the NHCLC stands committed to an outcome that reconciles conviction with compassion, security with integration, all while recognizing the image of God in citizen and immigra nt alike. Accordingly, while we continue to engage in prophetic activism, we also continue in our 'I Was a Stranger' prayer challenge. For we understand that prayer and activism result in one thing: justice in the name of Jesus!" Dr. Carl Ruby, Vice President for Student Life, Cedarville University "What excites me about this moment is the momentum that I see among evangelical university students. All across the country, young evangelicals are rallying around this issue. They see it as an act of living out their faith and honoring Christ's call to minister to the marginalized. They view it through the lens of civil rights and they don't want to be on the wrong side of history, as many white evangelicals were during the civil right movement. This is their moment to get an issue right, and that energizes their support for comprehensive immigration reform." Rev. Gabriel Salguero, President, National Latino Evangelical Coalition: “The National Latino Evangelical Coalition (NaLEC) and its 3,000 congregations are hopeful that the principles for immigration reform laid out in a bipartisan manner provides real hope to the 11 million women, children and men who remain undocumented. This legislation is an honest compromise that can move the nation forward in healthy ways.” Mat Staver, Founder and Chairman, Liberty Counsel, and Chief Counsel, National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference: "I applaud the bipartisan group of Senators working together to reform our broken immigration system. We need to secure our borders, enforce our laws, and provide opportunities for undocumented immigrants to come out of the shadows and participate in the American dream." Rev. Jim Wallis, President and CEO, Sojourners: “A bipartisan group of Senators has spoken: No legislation can be called immigration reform without a roadmap to citizenship. Creating a just and compassionate immigration system that meets the needs of the 21st century won’t happen overnight and it won’t be easy. For years the faith community has been calling for change, and we will be watching every step of the way to ensure that families are protected and the dignity of every one of God’s children is respected. We expect and demand nothing less. For us, this isn’t just a matter of politics, but one of faith and obedience to Jesus’ call in Matthew 25 for his followers to ‘welcome the stranger.’”  

PRESS RELEASE: Evangelical Leaders Launch Immigration Prayer Challenge

PRESS RELEASE For Immediate Release                             CONTACT: 202-347-0040 Evangelical Leaders Launch “I was a Stranger,” Immigration Prayer Challenge and Video National Leaders, Local Pastors Ask Lawmakers to Consider Immigration through Biblical Lens **Listen to a recording from today’s press call at http://tinyurl.com/iwasastranger.** WASHINGTON, D.C., JANUARY 14, 2013 — As we prepare for a national debate on immigration policy, the Evangelical Immigration Table launched an effort on Monday to encourage Christians to think about immigration from a distinctly biblical perspective. The diverse coalition of influential evangelicals will reach out to political leaders and more than 100,000 churches for their “I Was a Stranger” immigration prayer challenge. Leaders announced the launch of a promotional video featuring high-profile evangelical leaders reading from the 25th chapter of Matthew, from which the challenge gets its name. This coordinated effort of churches and Christian ministries summons legislators to allow biblical teachings to inform their views on immigration. The challenge invites individual evangelical Christians, church congregations, and legislators to read 40 verses of Scripture that relate to immigration and to pray that these passages will evoke the political will to create a just immigration system that better reflects Christian values. The statements below can be attributed to the following evangelical leaders: Stephan Bauman, President and CEO, World Relief: “For years, many people have asked whether evangelicals care about immigration. The “I Was A Stranger” Challenge mobilizes thousands of Christians to take action on immigration reform. Evangelicals are serious about Scripture and its command to take special care of immigrants living among us. As people all across our country put immigrants first, we believe our elected officials will understand reform is urgent, moral, and biblical, and that they must tackle it early this year.” Jo Anne Lyon, General Superintendent, The Wesleyan Church: “The church was birthed in diversity 2,000 years ago and for 2,000 years God's people have been speaking and acting on behalf of the vulnerable. God's call compels us to action today on behalf of immigrants in our congregations and communities.” Taylor Bell, Student, Samford University (Alabama): “This prayer challenge brings us evangelicals back to the scripture, reminding us that we are called as members of the community of God to welcome the stranger among us. I know from my own experience as a student in Alabama that we have a long way to go as evangelicals on the issue of immigration, and this prayer challenge will provide the biblical foundation we need to get there.” Noel Castellanos, CEO, Christian Community Development Association: “Today, we are launching a campaign to explore the teaching of God's Word regarding our call to love the stranger in our land. Join thousands of Christians over the next 40 days to discover God's heart for our immigrant brothers and sisters.” Dave Gibbons, Pastor and Founder of Newsong Church and XEALOTS.org (California): “Loving God and Loving Neighbors is the same as Loving Immigrants. They are all symbiotically related.” Dr. Bill Hamel, President, Evangelical Free Church of America: “As an evangelical, I am committed to not missing this moment in history where we can lead a movement for Biblical justice and compassion. Evangelicals sat on the sidelines in the civil rights discussions but we must not this time!” Dr. Joel Hunter, Senior Pastor, Northland Church (Florida): “As a pastor, I want my congregation to have a Biblical framework for addressing challenges, not a primarily political one. The most powerful motivation for us to find a good way to include people who are marginalized is to read scripture and try to follow its guidance.” For more information about the challenge, please visit: http://evangelicalimmigrationtable.com/iwasastranger/ Follow the conversation on Twitter at #IWasAStranger or text Immigration to 877877 to connect to the Evangelical Immigration Table and sign up for the I Was a Stranger challenge. ###  

PRESS RELEASE: Evangelical Leaders Call for Immigration Reform

For Immediate Release                                CONTACT: 202-347-0058 Evangelical Leaders Call for Immigration Reform in First 92 Days WASHINGTON, D.C., NOVEMBER 13, 2012 — Leaders from across the evangelical community came together today to release open letters to President Obama and to the House and Senate leadership, seeking action on immigration policy. On a press call this morning, leaders discussed the implications of the 2012 election and their plans for harnessing the growing consensus in the evangelical community around reform. The letters highlight why evangelical leaders are concerned about the current immigration system, lay out moral principles for reform and explain why leaders have called for reform in the first 92 days of President Obama’s second term. The letters state: We are driven by a moral obligation rooted deeply in our faith to address the needs of immigrants in our country. Compassionate and just treatment of immigrants is a frequent topic in scripture. The Hebrew word for immigrant, “ger,” occurs 92 times throughout the Bible. The letters call for balanced immigration reform that respects the God-given dignity of every person, guarantees secure national borders, protects the unity of the immediate family, ensures fairness to taxpayers and respects the rule of law, but also establishes a path toward legal status and/or citizenship for those who qualify and who wish to become permanent residents. The Evangelical Immigration Table, which launched in June 2012, represents diverse evangelical leaders from across the political spectrum, including The National Association of Evangelicals, Sojourners, the Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission of the Southern Baptist Convention and the National Latino Evangelical Coalition. A full list of partner organizations is available at www.evangelicalimmigrationtable.com, along with a list of more than 150 prominent evangelical leaders who have endorsed the Table’s principles for reform. The group discussed their legislative and campaign priorities. The letters read, “We stand ready to support legislation that reflects Christian values and builds the common good.” Full quotes from the members on the call can be read below: Rev. Gabriel Salguero, President, National Latino Evangelical Coalition (NaLEC): “This election season split our country, but today we come together in an unprecedented show of unity within the evangelical community: black, white, Hispanic and Asian. Our country needs a just immigration system, and Congress and President Obama must act this coming year.” Leith Anderson, President, National Association of Evangelicals (NAE): “Immigration is not just a Hispanic issue. Immigration is not just an Asian issue, European or African issue. It is a Christian issue. It is a moral issue. And how our country chooses to handle our immigrants reflects the character of our entire nation. As a Christian, my faith calls me to be concerned for all my neighbors, whether or not they look like me, talk like me or even believe like me. My mother was an immigrant — we are a country of immigrants, and many of us are just a few generations separated from our families arriving on this nation’s shores. Immigration is an issue close to my heart because it is close to the heart of God. It is of concern to me because it is of concern to my neighbors.” Dr. Danny Carroll Rodas, Immigration Spokesperson, National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference (NHCLC) and professor at Denver Seminary: “There is a movement spreading and a new consensus on immigration is growing. The Evangelical Immigration Table has organizers across the country with CCDA, World Relief, NaLEC, Esperanza, and NHCLC working in states such as Colorado, Florida, North Carolina and Texas who are all building out an infrastructure of advocates who are passionate about immigration reform. This work is built on the premise of relationships that cross ethnic lines and denominational differences. When people get to know their neighbors, they come to know the concerns and the struggles their neighbors face. As Christians, we are called to bear one another’s burdens. And that is what is happening.” Dr. Barrett Duke, Vice President for Public Policy and Research, Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission of the Southern Baptist Convention: “The Evangelical Immigration Table is politically diverse. Not everyone on this call voted the same way on Election Day. But, we share some core convictions about the values our nation should reflect. We are united in the belief that all people are created in the image of God and worthy of respect and dignity, regardless of country of origin. We are fighting for the right of families to stay together, for business owners to have the ability to hire the workers they need and have a system that ensures fairness to taxpayers. We don’t need to choose between American security and treating immigrants who are already here with respect and dignity.” Jim Wallis, President and CEO, Sojourners: “During the election we heard the media talk a lot about “evangelicals,” and what they were normally referring to was a political term. But when we use the word “evangelical” we are using it as a theological term. We are all united by shared belief the Christ has come, Christ has risen and Christ will come again — and that is good news for us all and the world. We stand ready and willing to work with both Republicans and Democrats who are committed to fair and just immigration reform. The country is hungry for its political leaders to tackle this challenge. They want to see a bipartisan win that shows we can work together as a country and move mountains.” Full text of the open letters is available here. Audio of the call is available here. www.EvangelicalImmigrationTable.com  
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