Evangelical Pastors: Deportations are Devastating to the Families We Serve
Pastors Share Personal Stories, Urge Congress to Vote on Reform
**For a recording of today’s call click here.**
WASHINGTON, D.C., APRIL 3, 2014 — On a press call today, evangelical pastors from Arizona, Florida, Illinois, Michigan and New Yorktold stories of their congregants’ separation and hardship due to immigration enforcement and deportations. Citing these unnecessary human costs, the pastors called on Congress to vote this year on immigration reform that strengthens families while reaffirming the rule of law.
The press call coincides with a 24-hour #Pray4Reform virtual Day of Prayer for Immigrant Families, and speakers also looked ahead to an April 29 #Pray4Reform fly-in as an opportunity to pray, meet with their members of Congress and push for a vote on reform in the House.
The following are quotes from speakers on today’s call:
Rev. Randy Buursma, Senior Pastor, First Christian Reformed Church, Grand Rapids, Mich.:
“Immigration reform must respond to mothers and fathers who live daily with the threat of deportation and separation from their families. Immigration reform will send a message as to the type of nation we are becoming. Will we be guided by the legacy of our own families who have experienced the gift citizenship or will we become a frightened and self-centered people who turn their backs on the needs of others?”
Dr. Kit Danley, President, Neighborhood Ministries, Phoenix:
“Arizona remains a punitive state both in prosecution and deportations of immigrants. This breaks our hearts as we stand alongside our families that are affected in our community, but it also leads us to action. We learned long ago that our silence indicts us, so we get involved. Today’s story of one of our families is devastating. Mom, in detention, has fourth-stage breast cancer and needs surgery to remove a cancerous lump. Her crime: She used a girlfriend’s ID to get a job at Kentucky Fried Chicken to feed her family. We know that one day, there will be immigration reform. Until then, there are terrific stories of pain and fear. May the church arise!”
Rev. Mike Langer, Pastor, Glen Ellyn Evangelical Covenant Church, Glen Ellyn, Ill.:
“We’re an affluent evangelical community and often work with our immigrant neighbors, but even with the visibility we have as a church, there’s still so much blindness to the immigrants in our community. Many are refugees, many are undocumented, but there’s still a need for the reminder of the presence of these immigrants in our midst. I have walked an undocumented congregant through the moral, the spiritual, the emotional processes of what his deportation would mean. That’s part of my job as a pastor: to walk people through the most painful and vulnerable times of their lives. And that’s one of the things that drive me to speak out and give a voice to the voiceless on this issue.”
Rev. Gabriel Salguero, Pastor, Lamb’s Church of the Nazarene, New York City; President, National Latino Evangelical Coalition:
“As evangelicals, we feel a fierce urgency for calling the vote on immigration now. Our churches and our families are being adversely affected. These men and women, these clergy are committed to pastoring and telling these stories of separation to show why we need immigration reform so urgently. For us this is a moral issue, but this can only be solved by legislation. We are calling for congressional action this year to keep our families together and stop the suffering of so many families who want to contribute to our communities and our economy.”
Rev. Jose Vega, Senior Pastor, Renacer Iglesia Bautista (Renacer Baptist Church), Jacksonville, Fla.:
“Immigration is about people, it’s about family — kids, wives, husbands — who are being separated. That has been my experience in this process as a pastor. And the church is trying to do its best, but the system doesn’t really help us; sometimes it’s just hard for us to do our job as pastors. I just try to help. My request for Congress is to try to pass a law together that will help the people, the families, that are here, that are working hard, and just try to do the best for them and end their suffering.”
Jenny Yang, Vice President of Advocacy and Policy, World Relief:
“The high number of deportations underscores the moral urgency to fix our broken immigration system. Every day that we do not have immigration reform, it’s families, children and our communities that suffer the most. Evangelicals continue to pray and believe that Congress has an opportunity to address immigration reform this year. We hope they will transcend politics and pass immigration reform for the sake of our families, our communities and our country.”
Join the conversation on Twitter using #Pray4Reform.