As a member of the Evangelical Covenant Church, I am proud that my church is among the evangelical denominations taking the lead to engage on immigration and care for immigrants with compassion and justice - and to encourage long overdue immigration reform.
As an immigrant myself, I am encouraged when I read articles like Marlen Garcia's Sept. 13 piece, "Latinos creating jobs at a rapid pace," in which she addresses how much buying power and entrepreneurial spirit immigrants contribute to our economy, creating jobs and fueling economic growth.
Garcia's article resonates with me on a personal level because as a child, I saw how hard my parents worked. Like many immigrants, my parents did not want to leave their home country, Egypt. They were both successful doctors, active in their churches, and surrounded by family and friends. For them, it was persecution that pushed them out; for others, it's extreme poverty, or war, or government suppression. more >>
President Barack Obama and evangelical leaders have pledged to make the issue of immigration reform the top national priority following months of delays due to the Syria crisis and government shutdown.
"President Obama is not alone in making immigration reform a top priority. Across the country, local and regional conservative leaders continue to showcase their considerable support for members of Congress who back commonsense and bipartisan reform," Ali Noorani, executive director of the National Immigration Forum, said in a statement.
Obama pledged on Tuesday in an interview with Univision that "the day after" the fiscal crisis has been resolved, he will push for a vote on immigration reform. On Wednesday, political leaders finally reached an agreement on a temporary government funding bill and a temporary extension of the nation's debt limit, which will at least delay further decisions on the topic until the beginning of 2014. more >>
WASHINGTON – About two dozen hecklers interrupted Senator Ted Cruz (R-Texas) while speaking at the conservative Values Voter Summit, but rather than step down, apologize, or speak quieter, Cruz raised his voice, incorporated their complaints into his speech, and challenged President Obama to a new type of discussion.
"It seems that President Obama's paid political operatives are out in force today," Cruz quipped. In an effort to explain why, the senator proclaimed that "the men and women in this room scare the living daylights out of them."
While the hecklers caused a stir, Cruz quickly addressed them and moved on. The audience cheered and applauded him for doing so. The first person to interrupt him asked, "Senator Cruz, why won't you support a pathway to citizenship for immigrant families?" Immediately, the senator thanked him for his presence, even while the audience jeered him. more >>
Even though the government is shutdown and political leaders appear to be unable to work together, evangelical leaders say that immigration reform is moving forward.
While the recent government shutdown has slowed the actions of the federal government, highlighted Congress' polarization, and dominated the domestic agenda, Jenny Yang, the Vice President of Advocacy and Policy and World Relief, said that now was still an important time for the church to act.
"Just because the government is shutdown doesn't mean that the work of the church has stopped. In fact, every day that immigration reform doesn't happen, the consequences of inaction are felt throughout all of our communities," said Yang in a press conference on Oct. 9. more >>
A new poll revealed that a religious transformation is underway among Hispanics in the United States, with fewer who are maintaining their Catholic faith while more are becoming religiously unaffiliated and evangelical.
The poll released last month by the Public Religion Research Institute (PRRI) gauged the political and religious opinions of more than 1,500 Latinos and the findings indicated that the growing amount of Hispanics who are not connected with any religion rivals the rise in numbers of Latino evangelicals.
Out of those surveyed, 53 percent of Hispanics identify themselves as Catholics, compared with 69 percent who say they were raised Catholic as children but left their faith. In addition, 12 percent of those surveyed said they are not affiliated with a religion compared to 13 percent who said they were raised and continue to be evangelical. more >>
Fixing our immigration system will strengthen the U.S. economy, create jobs for American workers and cut the deficit according to an August White House report describing the economic benefits of immigration reform that includes an earned path to citizenship. As the push for immigration reform charges into the fall, a diverse coalition of religious leaders is also calling attention to the moral aspects of this debate. Their efforts remind us that the immigration system is designed to do more than strengthen our economy and national security: it also serves to protect those who aspire to live, work and thrive in this great nation.
Catholics leaders and organizations are among those playing a leading role in making this case.
In a recent piece featured in New York Daily News, Cardinal Dolan, president of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, wrote, "We cannot let this opportunity pass. Immigration reform would help families, it would help our economy and it would improve our security. Most importantly, it's the right thing to do." Cardinal Dolan announced that dioceses across the country will hold events to stress the need for commonsense immigration reform. From California to Florida, at Masses and at marches, Catholics have stressed the urgency of the issue as well as the broad support for a path to earned citizenship. Bishops, diocesan officials and parish representatives are meeting with their Members of Congress to show a strong, unified stance in favor of immigration reform. Kevin Appleby, the director of immigration policy for the organization, explained why Catholics are multiplying their efforts in September: "It's a critical time. We need to get the Senate bill through the House. It needs a push. We're doing everything right now to keep the pressure up." more >>