Christian Leaders Issue Call For Immigration Reform During Independence Day

As America celebrate its independence on July 4, prominent Christian leaders, including heavy-weight evangelicals, are calling on Congress to take action on immigration reform.

Faith Leaders for Immigration Reform has released a list of statements made by Christian and Jewish leaders in support of immigration reform by U.S. lawmakers.

Evangelical leaders Leith Anderson, president of the National Association of Evangelicals, and Dr. Richard Land, president of Southern Baptist Convention's Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission, are among those who issued statements.

On Saturday, thousands of people protested against Georgia's new immigration law that authorizes police to check the immigration status of any one they stop. House Bill 87, which took effect Friday, also makes it a felony to use false documents to obtain a job

Recently, messengers at the 2011 annual meeting of the Southern Baptist Convention approved an immigration resolution that called on the government to implement "a just and compassionate path to legal status" for undocumented immigrants in the United States.

The resolution also urged Southern Baptist churches to proclaim Christ and minister in His spirit to everyone, regardless of their "immigration status."

The following are statements by Christian and Jewish leaders calling for "just and humane immigration reform":

Leith Anderson
President of the National Association of Evangelicals

“Why is immigration policy important to evangelicals? Certainly because we believe what the Bible teaches about treatment of ‘aliens in the land.’ It is also because so many Hispanic, African and Asian immigrants are evangelical Christians who are in our denominations and churches by the millions. They are us.”

Rev. David Beckmann
President, Bread for the World

“A useful discussion of U.S. immigration policy should address the twin causes of unauthorized migration: first, poverty and inequality in Latin America, and second, the availability of jobs in the United States that Americans shun and that immigrants are eager to take on. The debate regarding more or less border enforcement is-at best-of secondary importance.”

Walter Contreras
Evangelical Covenant Denomination

“The question we are being asked by God in the midst of this immigration debate is the same question God asked Cain after he murders his own brother: ‘Where is Abel your brother?’ He responded: ‘I do not know. Am I my brother's keeper?’ It is my hope that when we are asked ‘Where are our immigrant families?’ We need to respond: ‘Yes, I am my immigrant brothers’, sisters’ and families’ keeper.’ We have heard for too long: ‘I do not know.’ Thank you for all those who are doing the best they can to answer this big question with integrity, truth and justice.”

Rev. Luis Cortes
President of Esperanza

“It is our continued prayer for the unity of the followers of Christ on the issue of immigration reform. I am convinced that, as Evangelicals continue to seek the Lord’s leading through prayer, we will unite under the leading of the Holy Spirit for a just resolution for the 11 million undocumented immigrants living in the United States.”

Rabbi Darryl Crystal

“The Jewish community has been blessed to find a home of freedom and prosperity in the United States. Based on our history of challenge and renewal there are issues which arise, such as the Civil Rights movement, Soviet Jewry, and Darfur which call on our conscience to act. Compassionate comprehensive immigration reform calls us to action today and we mustn’t remain silent.”

Rabbi Becca Gould

“As Jews, how can we stand idly by with a broken system that hurts those most vulnerable? More and more we are being asked to break the foundational law of Judaism, ‘To love your neighbor as yourself.’ We are being asked to see our neighbor as a criminal alien because they fled from poverty and danger and wish to work and support their families. Did our relatives, generations back, not do the same for us?"

Dr. Richard Land
President, Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission, Southern Baptist Convention

“The immigration crisis is tearing at the social fabric of the nation in ways that are far easier to rend than they are to mend. As a student of the Bible, I believe our country must and can find a way to accommodate both the Bible’s call to respect the rule of law and to treat the stranger in our midst with compassion and mercy. An immigration solution that secures the borders and the workplace first, then provides a path toward earned legal status for the undocumented in our midst is the fair and just way to proceed. Such a policy is achievable. A majority of Americans already support it. It is well past time for our elected representatives to enact such a policy into law. As we celebrate our independence this 4th of July, we should remember that the dictum on our national seal is E Pluribus Unum – ‘Out of many, one.’”

Rabbi David Saperstein

“[The current immigration system] is a system characterized by the way in which it keeps loved ones apart, when they should be together, celebrating holidays, birthdays, and every other day of the year that over the decades add up to a lifetime of memories for families, together. For too long, the problems of our immigration system have prevented those memories from taking shape.”

Most Reverend Jaime Soto
Bishop of Sacramento, California

“On this Fourth of July, as we celebrate our common values as Americans-such as hard work, opportunity, fairness, and a belief in God-we must not forget our immigrant roots. Like our ancestors before us, immigrants to this land continue to strengthen these values and enrich our country with their unique contributions. To turn our back on this new wave of immigrants would be to forsake our own heritage and undermine our prospects for the future.”

The Rev. Gabriel A. Salguero
President, National Latino Evangelical Coalition

“It is the right time to once again call for common sense and humane immigration reform. I stand together with thousands of faith leaders to call for us to remember the words of Emma Lazarus engraved on Lady Liberty, ‘Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free.’ Our national conscience requires a more just and effective immigration system. Silence is not an option.”

Rev. Samuel Rodriguez
President of the National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference

“The answer is a Just Integration Strategy that stops all illegal immigration, prohibits amnesty, deports those engaged in nefarious activities while facilitating an integration and legalization process for self sustaining hard working individuals…At the end of the day, immigrants will revitalize the American Church, reaffirm the values of faith, family and hard work while enriching the collective narrative of our American experience."

Dr. Warren H. Stewart, Sr.
Senior Pastor, First Institutional Baptist Church, Phoenix, AZ
 President, Paradise Missionary Baptist State Convention of Arizona, Inc.
 Treasurer, National Immigration Forum, Washington, DC

“On Sunday, June 26, 2011, as I was leaving South Carolina after preaching in its capital city, Columbia, my host took me to a monument to slaves brought to the United States via South Carolina from Africa. It was chilling. The next day I visited the original Capitol of North Carolina in Raleigh and therein I saw two bronze plaques dedicated to the adoption of the 13th Amendment of the United States Constitution abolishing slavery and the 14th Amendment granting citizenship to all born or naturalized persons in the United States. Both plaques reminded me of the fight for justice which has progressed over the 235 years of our nation’s history. Somehow someway the God of justice and liberty for all was allowed to work through strategic leaders of our nation to liberate persons unjustly treated in the 18th and 19th centuries. He did the same in the 20th century and He will do likewise in the 21st century as it relates to just, comprehensive immigration reform. There’s a saying well-known in the African-American Church that voices, “He may not come when you want Him, but He’s always on time!” And that is the faith with which I will celebrate July 4, 2011.”

Jim Wallis
CEO of Sojourners

“As we remember the birth of our nation, we must honor the energy, hope and cultural diversity of the immigrants who have shaped the land we now call the United States. Almost all Americans trace their ancestry back immigrants who took the brave chance of migrating to a new land in hopes of a brighter future. It is part of our Judeo-Christian heritage to welcome and defend immigrants because of clear scriptural commands to care for the “stranger” and show love to the “least of these”. Today, immigrants are the bedrock of our churches, businesses and communities and they continue to make us stronger as a nation.”

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