Faith Groups Make The Religious Argument For Immigration Reform

shutterstock_2997388As the focus on immigration reform turns to the House of Representatives, faith leaders continue to push for members of Congress to support a comprehensive measure to improve immigration policies. In late May, evangelical groups launched a $250,000 national ad campaign that featured pastors urging people to support congressional immigration reform efforts. And after the Senate passed S. 744, four religious organizations sent letters to House members pushing them to act on comprehensive immigration legislation.

According to Politico, the groups—Sojourners, National Association of Evangelicals, the Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission of the Southern Baptist Convention, and the National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference—emphasized compassion in their appeals. “For those of us who are Christians, we must heed the direct commandment of Jesus to welcome the stranger,” wrote Jim Wallis, the president of Sojourners.

At the National Hispanic Prayer Breakfast in June, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi argued for the compassionate case on immigration reform, referencing Hebrews 13:2 and saying people should show hospitality to strangers. When it comes to the political disagreements, “Faith overcomes even political differences,” she said. And Russell Moore, the Southern Baptist Convention’s chief ethicist, told USA Today in June that fixing the nation’s broken immigration system is not a partisan issue:

“Our involvement signals the fact that we don’t see this as a blue state, red state, culture war question,” Moore said. “When you have people of courage and goodwill, such as Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.), who is heroically working to craft legislation that is fair and just, I think it’s very difficult to pigeonhole this into the easy left-right categories we’re accustomed to.”

He added recently that immigrants are part of their communities. “These are our church members,” he said.

The presidents of 88 Catholic universities and colleges are pushing for immigration reform. “We urge lawmakers to adopt immigration reform that will both give aspiring Americans a path to citizenship and to becoming full contributors to our society, and to treat them with the dignity every human being deserves,” said Rev. John Jenkins, president of the University of Notre Dame.

And Cardinal Timothy Dolan, archbishop of New York and president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, wrote in June that the bishops call for “practical and humane immigration reform grounded in the Catholic experience.” Dolan added that parishes and groups welcome new immigrants into their communities with job training, English classes, and basic assistance. And he said they also see the suffering caused by deportations that separate families. “With the stakes so high, it’s important that Congress craft legislation that balances the legitimate needs of security with our heritage of welcoming immigrants and the gifts they bring to our country,” Dolan wrote.

This is not the first time faith leaders jumped into the immigration debate. Back in January 2010, Evangelical groups signed onto a national religious effort to “act on the Biblical mandate of compassion and justice toward immigrants” and call for reform of our broken immigration system. But they add to the chorus of voices asking the House of Representatives to act on legislation—including a path to citizenship—and address the nation’s broken immigration policies.

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