Pass Immigration Reform This Year, Catholic and Evangelical Leaders Ask Congress

Leaders from the Evangelical Immigration Table and U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops joined in a letter to Congress asking for passage of a bill this year that fixes the immigration system.

"Common sense fixes to our immigration policies are long overdue. As a nation founded upon the principles of the rule of law and the centrality of family, we can no longer delay fixing this system," the letter states.

The leaders note that they encounter the difficulties caused by the nation's immigration system through interactions they have with people in their faith communities.

"As leaders in our respective faith communities, we live every day with the reality that our immigration system does not reflect our commitment to the values of human dignity, family unity and respect for the rule of law that define us as Americans. Each day we witness the human tragedies created by our current system, including the separation of families and the violation of basic human dignity," they wrote.

Besides passage of a bill this year, they ask that the bill "respects the God-given dignity of every person, protects family unity, respects the rule of law, guarantees the integrity of our national borders, ensures fairness for taxpayers, and makes it possible for undocumented immigrants who meet the requirements to become citizens if they desire."

Earlier this year, House Republican leaders announced that they would pursue immigration reform based upon a set of principles they agreed to. Later, though, Speaker of the House John Boehner announced that passage of a bill would be unlikely this year because his caucus did not trust President Barack Obama to faithfully implement the law.

The evangelical and Catholic leaders urged the GOP not to back off their plan to pass reform this year.

"It's a new day," the Rev. Samuel Rodriguez, president of the National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference, said on a Wednesday press call. "Evangelicals and Catholic leaders join together in the spirit of the following proclamation: It is morally reprehensible and counter to the teachings of Christ to continue to sacrifice 11 million lives on the altar of political expediency.

"As Evangelicals, we join our Catholic brothers and sisters in affirming our conviction that this is the time to reconcile border security with the security of our values; values that include faith and family. For it takes conviction to speak truth, courage to do justice and spiritual fortitude to stand on the right side of history. Now is the time."

Leith Anderson, president of the National Association of Evangelicals, emphasized that delayed action is a vote for the status-quo.

"Every day of delay is a vote for keeping immigration exactly the way it is right now. Since everyone seems to agree that our current immigration system is broken then everyone should be voting for change," he said.

The letter is signed by 11 Catholic leaders and eight evangelical leaders, including, Stephan Bauman, president and CEO of World Relief, Eusebio Elizondo, chairman of the USCCB Committee on Migration, Russell Moore, president of the Southern Baptist Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission, Mat Staver, founder and chairman of Liberty Counsel, Jim Wallis, president and founder of Sojourners, and Thomas Wenski, archbishop of Miami.

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