Praying the House Will Support Bipartisan Immigration Reform

With members of Congress home for the August recess, they are hearing from constituents across the political spectrum - including evangelical Christians - that we need immigration reform after they return to Washington.

I don't know a single person who thinks our immigration system works, and we must come together to reach a solution. Each day we fail to replace our broken system is a day of missed opportunity, a day without the kind of broad reform that we so clearly need.

Republicans and Democrats must continue to put their partisan differences aside and work for broad immigration reform, including an opportunity for aspiring Americans to earn citizenship.

The attitude of the majority of House Republicans on this issue has been simultaneously promising and worrisome - promising because they have agreed they must do something; worrisome because they have shown little urgency.

As the CEO of the largest Evangelical Christian community development association in the nation, I see firsthand the suffering in immigrant families that are torn apart and workers who are trapped in the shadows and robbed of their wages.

I know it takes a community working together to solve problems. For decades, churches and community groups have worked together across cultural divides on issues facing immigrant communities. 

The Lawndale Christian Health Center, where I served as president of the board for many years, is one such example. Not only has it provided excellent healthcare services for many uninsured, undocumented residents of the west side of Chicago, but it's also one of the rare places in our city where African-Americans, Latinos and others work side by side to serve the needs of the community.

The same spirit of collaboration and community is evident in the immigration reform debate. As a leader of the Evangelical Immigration Table, I stand alongside Latino, white and African-American clergy who have myriad differences of opinion and conviction but are united in our commitment to a new immigration process that honors American values and reflects biblical values.

Just last month, we stood together in Washington. During the Evangelical Immigration Table's Day of Prayer and Action, we once again asked our representatives to work together to repair our broken system.

At a key moment during our ongoing Pray for Reform campaign, we brought our prayers and support to more than 110 congressional offices, most of them Republican, and stressed the urgency for broad reform based on Biblical values.

We've also joined forces with other community leaders, such as business executives and law enforcement officials. When leaders who hold Bibles, wear badges and own businesses are united with others across the political spectrum, it's fair to say that our country is united as never before on a political issue.

Growing up the son of Mexican migrant worker parents, I know how meaningful and arduous it is to pursue the American dream. As a Christian, I want my neighbors who aspire to become American citizens to have the same opportunities I had. 

With the Senate's strongly bipartisan passage of immigration reform in June, that dream is one step closer to reality for 11 million people. Republicans and Democrats worked together to move our country forward. The House may follow a different path, but they must move forward - if the Senate can do it, I know the House can too.

It just takes the courage to do what is right and the wisdom to do what is practical: come together and pass broad, commonsense immigration reform that honors our values and strengthens our communities.

Noel Castellanos of Chicago is the CEO of the Christian Community Development Association.

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