(Photo: Reuters/Jason Reed)
A number of Christian and immigration reform advocacy groups have expressed hopes that legislation on the issue will move forward following President Barack Obama's State of the Union address Tuesday.
Ali Noorani, executive director of the National Immigration Forum, commented that Obama's remarks are an "encouraging sign" toward immigration reform this year.
"Immigration holds a unique space in today's Congress as one of the few issues with such unparalleled bipartisan support," Noorani noted. "On the heels of tonight's encouraging remarks from both sides of the aisle, we look forward to a productive 2014 for immigration reform."
At his State of the Union speech, Obama took time to talk about immigration reform.
The president said that a number of business, labor and faith leaders have all called on the government to fix American's broken immigration system, and noted that there has been strong bipartisan support for the issue.
"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.
"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 Senate has passed its version of an immigration reform bill that includes a path to citizenship for illegal immigrants. The House of Representatives will not vote on that bill or conference with the Senate on its bill. Instead, the House is working on at least four separate bills dealing with immigration. While those bills contain many provisions favored by immigration reform advocates, none currently contain a special path to citizenship for current unauthorized immigrants.
Many Christians have called on politicians to work together and make immigration reform a reality. In light of the SOTU, the Evangelical Immigration Table posted an ad addressing House GOP members, announcing that they will be praying for them.
"We're encouraged by signs that you will soon move forward with reforms that will fix our country's immigration system," the ad states. "We pray that your principles will lead to meaningful and urgently needed reform."
The ad, signed by such Christian leaders as Leith Anderson of the National Association of Evangelicals, Russell Moore of the Southern Baptist Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission, and Gabriel Salguero of the National Latino Evangelical Coalition, calls on the House Republicans to both honor the rule of law, but also to welcome the stranger, as Jesus Christ commanded.