(Photo: The Christian Post / Mark Hensch)
WASHINGTON – Evangelicals from across the political and racial spectrum have come together to voice their support for comprehensive immigration reform.
As part of the "Evangelical Immigration Table," evangelical leaders met at the Rayburn Office Building in a crowded meeting room on a rainy Tuesday morning. Political opposites like Jim Wallis and Richard Land were among those gathered together in support of the "Evangelical Statement of Principles for Immigration Reform."
The statement calls for an immigration reform that includes secure borders, a path to citizenship for those who qualify, and respect for American immigration law.
Stephen Bauman, president and CEO of the Baltimore-based charity organization World Relief, said in his opening remarks that their vision is a biblical one.
"Where do you see the stranger? Jesus of Nazareth answered, 'whatever you do to the least of these, you do to me.'"
Bauman explained that around 140 leaders from evangelical organizations and churches across America have agreed to the principles laid out in the immigration reform statement.
"We call for a bipartisan solution for immigration that respects the God-given dignity of every person, that protects the unity of the immediate family, that respects the rule of law," said Bauman.
"We call upon members of Congress, we call upon the ddministration to take a step of courage, moral courage, to rise above the fray of the left and right, the rhetoric, the polarization that simply does not need to be there."
Dr. Carlos Moran of the National Hispanic Leadership Conference told those gathered that "justice will always speak for those who cannot speak for themselves."
"We are evangelicals. We stand committed to the Good News. We stand convicted by the mandate to do justice, love mercy, and walk humbly with our God," said Moran. "[We want] justice that will secure our borders, our families, our values, hardworking God-loving immigrants and the Image of God in every human being."
In an interview with The Christian Post, Dr. Richard Land of the Southern Baptist Convention's Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission explained how the evangelical American community could be an influential force in the immigration issue.
"The largest voting bloc in the country, 29 percent of the people who actually vote are evangelicals and that's a crucial constituency to anyone who wants to get anything done," said Land, who also serves as executive editor of The Christian Post. "So I think it's absolutely critical and can be critical as long as it's united."
Other speakers at the press conference included Leith Anderson, president of the National Association of Evangelicals; the Rev. Gabriel Salguero, president of the National Latino Evangelical Coalition; and Noel Castellanos, CEO of the Christian Community Development Association.
Other signers of the statement included Max Lucado, author and preacher at Oak Hills Church in San Antonio, Texas, and Jim Daly, president of the Colorado-based Focus on the Family.
"I signed on to this statement because immigration reform is more than an 'issue' to families – it profoundly affects their stability, structure and quality of life," said Daly in a statement.
"It's a tough challenge, but our nation was built on and has been sustained by meeting tough challenges."