Immigration Reform Has 'New Opening,' Says Evangelical Leader

An evangelical leader in the Southern Baptist Convention has stated that there is a "new opening" for immigration reform at the federal level since last week's election.

Dr. Barrett Duke, vice president for Public Policy and Research at the Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission of the SBC, told The Christian Post about this on Tuesday in an interview. "I think that there has been a new opening come in Congress at this point for a solution to the immigration dilemma that we've been speaking to now for years," said Duke

"There's definitely movement on both sides of the aisle. It's going to take both sides of the aisle to reach a solution that can be passed and we have a unique moment right now to achieve this goal."

Duke's remarks were part of a press call organized by the Evangelical Immigration Table, a bipartisan evangelical effort to push a multipoint immigration reform. The Rev. Gabriel Salguero, president of the National Latino Evangelical Coalition, moderated the press call and gave the opening remarks.

"The evangelical community has been united for some time to call on President Obama to fulfill his campaign promise to make immigration reform a top legislative priority in 2013 and to call on both the House and the Senate leaders to pass immigration reform legislation," said Salguero.

"In open letters to each of these three audiences, faith leaders, evangelical leaders are sending a strong message to Washington."

Available at the EIT's website, all three letters were sent out on Tuesday to the aforementioned parties, congratulating them on their electoral victories and asking that they work on fixing the immigration system.

"As evangelical leaders, we live every day with the reality that our immigration system doesn't reflect our commitment to the values of human dignity, family unity and respect for the rule of law that define us as Americans," reads the letter to President Barack Obama in part.

"We respectfully request that you meet personally with leadership from the Evangelical Immigration Table in the first 92 days of your administration to introduce bipartisan immigration reform legislation…"

According to Salguero, the EIT chose the number 92 because it is the number of times the Hebrew word for "stranger" or "foreigner" appears in the Old Testament.

In addition to Duke and Salguero, other speakers on the press call included Dr. Danny Carroll, immigration spokesperson for the National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference (NHCLC); Leith Anderson, president of the National Association of Evangelicals (NAE); and Jim Wallis, president and CEO, Sojourners.

When asked by CP as to what was different between Obama's first term and his second term on the immigration issue, Carroll of NHCLC explained that the change was coming from the ground up.

"We need to remember that this is not only a Washington issue, but it's also local and state. What we're seeing in Colorado is church groups and leaders who would be naturally inclined to vote Republican are coming on board and coming behind this," said Carroll.

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