(Photo: Reuters/Gary Cameron)
Evangelical groups are asking how many more families will be broken apart due to lack of action on immigration reform in Congress, after House Speaker John Boehner said on Thursday that such reform will have a tough time going forward due to Republican distrust of President Barack Obama.
"With a strong majority of Americans, including evangelicals, wanting leaders to fix our broken immigration system, immigration reform is going to happen. The only question is how many families will be broken up and how much our communities have to suffer until Washington acts," Sojourners President Jim Wallis, who is part of the Evangelical Immigration Table, told The Christian Post on Thursday.
While immigration reform groups praised Obama's call to action on the issue at the State of the Union last week, and have urged bipartisan support to fix America's broken immigration system, such legislation has stalled in Congress.
The Senate has passed its own version of an immigration reform bill that includes a path to citizenship for illegal immigrants, but the House of Representatives has refused to vote on that bill, instead suggesting at least four separate bills of its own.
"There's widespread doubt about whether this administration can be trusted to enforce our laws, and it's going to be difficult to move any immigration legislation until that changes," Boehner said on Thursday, according to Fox News.
While the Republican said he has called on Congress and the Obama administration to work together for immigration reform, senior GOP sources apparently told Fox that the House Speaker is "putting a stop sign" on such legislation.
"Tap the brakes on immigration reform," the anonymous aide said. "Just don't say dead."
Wallis told CP that although immigration reform is a complicated issue, too many people are being hurt by the status quo to justify inaction.
"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 common sense immigration reform needs to pass," the Sojourners president urged.
Dr. Russell Moore, president of the Southern Baptist Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission, also weighed in, commenting: "Right now, our nation's leaders have a rare window of opportunity in which to pass a reform that is good for all Americans. 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, meanwhile, called on House leaders to turn their vision for immigration reform into a reality.
"This moment is unique, and it won't last long. I am praying that they 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," Rodriguez stated.
Last week, Obama noted that both major political parties want to work together for immigration reform.
"I know that members of both parties in the House want to do the same. Independent economists say immigration reform will grow our economy and shrink our deficits by almost $1 trillion in the next two decades," Obama said in his SOTU address.
"And for good reason: when people come here to fulfill their dreams – to study, invent, and contribute to our culture – they make our country a more attractive place for businesses to locate and create jobs for everyone. So let's get immigration reform done this year."
The Evangelical Immigration Table had posted an ad addressing House Republican members in light of the SOTU, saying that Christians will be praying for them to move forward with legislation.