Evangelical Pastors & Leaders Meet with U.S. Senators, Urge Bipartisan Cooperation on Key Immigration Reform Priorities
WASHINGTON, D.C. — Today and tomorrow, more than 200 evangelical pastors and leaders are registered to participate in approximately 50 meetings with U.S. Senators and/or their staff, occurring both on Capitol Hill and virtually.
These evangelicals’ advocacy is happening at a moment when key senators from both parties are reportedly meeting to forge bipartisan solutions to key immigration policy issues such as the pending legal challenge facing beneficiaries of Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) and high levels of apprehensions at the U.S.-Mexico border.
The leaders are urging Congress to forge solutions that include a path to citizenship for Dreamers, reforms to ensure a reliable, lawful agricultural workforce and improvements to border security and management. A recent poll finds that 82% of evangelical voters nationally (including 81% of white evangelicals) support legislation that combines these priorities.
This advocacy from evangelical Christians also occurs in coordination with other advocacy efforts by a broad range of faith, business, higher education and advocacy organizations who form the Alliance for a New Immigration Consensus.
These pastors and leaders will also be urging the rebuilding of the U.S. refugee resettlement program – including to better accommodate Ukrainian refugees – as well as legislation to ensure that Afghans resettled to the U.S. last year are able to apply for permanent legal status. That advocacy is particularly timely as the Biden administration just last week included a version of the Afghan Adjustment Act in its Ukraine supplemental funding request.
The following are quotes from several of the leaders who participated in a press conference this afternoon, a recording of which is posted here:
Galen Carey, Vice President for Government Relations, National Association of Evangelicals:
“Immigrants in our churches and communities, whom we know and love, are hurting. Individuals fleeing persecution are being turned away at our borders. We can be more secure and more compassionate by adopting common sense bipartisan reforms that modernize our border systems and offer a path to permanent status for Dreamers, farm workers, and long-term Temporary Protected Status holders. We have come to Washington to say to our leaders that it’s time to do your jobs. The time to act is now.”
Derwin Gray, Lead Pastor at Transformation Church in Indian Land, South Carolina and author, How to Heal Our Racial Divide:
“As the co-founder and lead pastor of an intentionally gospel-shaped multiethnic church, I am grateful for and celebrate the tremendous contributions of immigrants to the Carolinas and to our great nation. My heart is broken because so many immigrants, made in the image of God, suffer in unimaginable ways as they attempt to navigate our broken and unworkable immigration system. Our laws do not provide for orderly legal immigration that could reunite families and meet our nation’s pressing workforce needs. It’s time for immigration reform; for too long our political leaders have been paralyzed into inaction on immigration reform out of fear of those with extreme views. I came to Washington to let our political leaders know that the vast majority of Americans are reasonable, they want safe, secure system of legal immigration and an opportunity for the undocumented people who bear the image of God to make restitution and earn legal status. The time to act is now.”
Reid Kapple, Campus Pastor of Christ Community Church, Olathe, Kansas:
“Tens of thousands of Afghan refugees are caught in the liminal space of having no clear permanent pathway forward for citizenship or permanent protective status under their current status as parolees. Even though I am thankful for our military and government that worked to evacuate thousands of divine image bearers from Afghanistan, the unfortunate outcome of that expedited endeavor has left them with no permanent options for a future here in the states after their parolee status expires in less than two years. As an evangelical pastor who leads a congregation of people who are called to love God by loving their neighbors as themselves and who are called to seek the welfare of the city, we see the work of caring and advocating for immigrants and refugees as being integral to our calling as both Christians and citizens of our great nation.”
Kathryn Freeman, Texas Advocacy Mobilizer, World Relief:
“Dreamers are a very important part of the Texas economy, but more importantly they are valued members of the body of Christ. I believe there can be bipartisan agreement, just as there is broad theological agreement that children should not be punished for their parent’s decisions. Dreamers are an essential part of our churches and Congress should act to protect them by providing a path to citizenship.”
Manuel Mendoza, Pastor of the Spanish-language congregation, Morningside Baptist Church in Greenville, South Carolina:
“As a pastor of a Spanish-speaking ministry, this issue impacts me as I interact with it almost daily. I came to be a voice for those who are building homes or cleaning homes, picking food or preparing food, those who are existing in the shadows of society today. I came to express the urgency that is needed for compassionate immigration reform now.”