Hispanic Evangelicals Press Pelosi on Immigration Reform

Leading Hispanic evangelical groups have issued a letter to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi calling on the new Congress to approve comprehensive immigration reform.

The letter is sponsored by the National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference (NHCLC), which is a sister organization of the National Association of Evangelicals, and the National Hispanic Coalition for Comprehensive Immigration Reform. The letter is signed by more than 25 pastors and community leaders.

Hispanic Christian leaders voiced concern in the letter that Hispanic American communities face “racial profiling, discrimination and a hostile ethnically polarized environment” because of the immigration issue. They called on Congress to pass a comprehensive immigration reform legislation that will: protect the borders, end all illegal immigration, create a market-driven guest worker program, and create ways for the millions of families without legal status already in America to gain legality.

“The current state of immigration in this country is a complex situation; nevertheless, we as Americans have the intellectual wherewithal, the political acumen and the spiritual fortitude to reconcile the principles of law and order with a pathway to citizenship for those that seek to live the American dream,” stated the letter.

Immigration policies divide not only politicians but also the Christian community. The United Methodist Church’s General Board of Global Ministries, although supporting the necessity of just U.S. immigration laws, emphasized that lawmakers should avoid passing laws that would divide families or make felons out of millions of illegal workers currently in the U.S.

Ken Connor, the chairman of the Center for a Just Society and former president of the conservative Family Research Council (FRC), supports strong immigration laws.

“Americans should never forget that we are at war with evil people committed to our destruction. Terrorists will use any means necessary to enter our country and wreak as much havoc as possible,” wrote Ken Connor in a column last year. “National security imperatives dictate that we know who is crossing our border and why. Therefore, border control is essential; everything else comes second.”

However, he concluded by calling for balance by providing an “opportunity for redemption.” Connor said most immigrants come to America to feed their family and work hard, rather than to hurt anybody. He suggested the illegal immigrants already in the country be charged illegal immigrants fines and pay back-taxes, but allowed “the opportunity for a legal future in America [to] demonstrate that America is still the land of opportunity, where past mistakes can be redeemed.”

There is an estimated 10 million illegal immigrant population in the United States, according to Wayne Cornelius, director of the Center for Comparative Immigration Studies at the University of California at San Diego.

The National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference serves about 14.5 million Hispanic Americans in issues relating to family, immigration, economic mobility, education, political empowerment, and spiritual/moral enrichment.