DREAM Act students, immigration advocates and community leaders have turned up the heat on Congress and the Obama administrative in recent weeks to do something, anything, about our nation’s immigration problems. Yesterday, Evangelical leaders—including the National Association of Evangelicals, and Focus on the Family—joined that effort, denouncing recent “self-deportation policies” and calling on leaders to break the gridlock on immigration.

At a press conference on Capitol Hill yesterday, leaders representing 150 Evangelical groups urged Congress to provide a way for undocumented immigrants to “begin the restitution process” and obtain legal residency. “People are tired of the rhetoric and looking for some improvement in the immigration system,” said Tom Minnery of Focus on the Family. Leaders also announced that they will run radio and print ads as well as encourage their congregation to knock on doors and pastors to speak out for the need for reform.

To kick off that effort, more than 150 Evangelical organizations from around the country have formed an “Evangelical Immigration Table.” The group also published principles for immigration reform:

Our national immigration laws have created a moral, economic and political crisis in America. Initiatives to remedy this crisis have led to polarization and name calling in which opponents have misrepresented each other’s positions as open borders and amnesty versus deportations of millions. This false choice has led to an unacceptable political stalemate at the federal level at a tragic human cost.

As evangelical Christian leaders, we call for a bipartisan solution on immigration that respects the God-given dignity of every person; protects the unity of the immediate family; respects the rule of law, guarantees secure national borders; ensures fairness to taxpayers; and establishes a path toward legal status and/or citizenship for those who qualify and who wish to become permanent residents.

As reported by the New York Times, “Hispanics account for about 7.5 million of the 82 million evangelicals in the country, are the fastest-growing segment” according to the National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference.

Evangelicals are not new to 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. In May 2010, Evangelical leaders met with Senator Chuck Schumer (D-NY) to discuss the need for bipartisan support on an immigration bill, then lobbied the White House to urge immediate action on immigration reform and a repeal of Arizona’s enforcement law.

Photo by Sandi Villarreal.

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