Over 220 pastors in state of Texas have drafted and signed a statement expressing their support behind what they believe to be the best balance between justice and compassion in regards to border security and immigration issues.
"In the course of our history as a nation, challenges and crisis moments have arisen that required principled leadership and the laying aside of partisan politics," the pastors state in the preamble of their Declaration on Border Security and Immigration Reform. "Such is the need before us in our day regarding the escalating illegal immigration crisis and the security of our national borders."
According to the pastors, it is "clear and evident" that the "crisis" regarding the state of the nation's border security and immigration system "must be addressed rapidly, justly and humanely with equal regard to both rule of law and God-given value of every individual."
"Holy Scriptures demand that justice and compassion be balanced with neither improperly dominant over the other in our hearts and our laws," the pastors say.
Though the immigration issue had faded into the background for many after Congress failed to overhaul the immigration system in 2007, it was revived with the signing of Arizona's contentious new law, which instructs police to demand proof of a questionable person's legal status.
More than 20 states are discussing efforts similar to Arizona's. An Associated Press-GfK poll last month, meanwhile, found that 85 percent of people now rank immigration as an important issue.
"[T]he majority of people ... demand secure borders, credible enforcement of our current immigration laws by our federal government, reforming the broken immigration system, and humanely addressing those who have entered the country illegally," argue signers of the pastors' declaration.
That given, the ministers are calling upon elected state and national leaders to stop their political bickering, engage in genuine dialogue, cooperate with one another, and pledge to resolve the crisis by taking the three steps detailed in their declaration.
The pastors aim to see the national borders first secured, the immigration system then reformed, and a just process to legal status for specified illegal immigrants then implemented.
"We the undersigned pastors declare our commitment to using our voice and influence in every way possible to support these principles," the pastors conclude in their declaration. "We will also publicly hold accountable those who choose to remain silent, who are divisive for purely political purposes, or who act in opposition to these principles."
Signers of the declaration so far include over 220 pastors in Texas and around 50 pastors from other states in the nation. Some of the most notable names include megachurch pastors Robert Koke of Shoreline Christian Church in Austin, Steve Riggle of Grace Community Church in Houston, and Kirbyjon Caldwell of Windsor Village United Methodist Church in Houston.