Evangelicals keep the faith with those working for immigration reform

(Reuters/Robert Galbraith) Much of the media coverage of the immigration reform debate has focused on political intrigue: whether there will … Continued

(Reuters/Robert Galbraith)

Much of the media coverage of the immigration reform debate has focused on political intrigue: whether there will be one bill or several, whether House Speaker John Boehner will allow a vote on a bill if less than half of his caucus supports it, whether newly naturalized immigrants and their allies will become Republican or Democratic voters. These questions provide fodder for small talk at cocktail parties inside the Beltway and endless analysis by political scientists and commentators.

But for the nation as a whole, the stakes are much higher. Everyone agrees that our current immigration system is broken. Prospective workers whose skills complement the American workforce confront daunting and in some cases insurmountable obstacles to legal immigration. Immediate family members, including spouses, face lengthy waiting periods. And those who, despite all odds, have successfully integrated into our communities without benefit of legal status remain in legal limbo, at constant risk of mistreatment, abuse and deportation.

Evangelical Christians are mounting an unprecedented multiethnic campaign for immigration reform because we believe it is the right thing to do. We want workable laws that meet our nation’s needs and that can be enforced and respected by all. We want secure borders that prevent the illegal entry of drugs and terrorists. We want to reunite and protect families and children. We want to offer undocumented immigrants the opportunity to acknowledge their wrong, make themselves right with the law, pay appropriate fines and penalties, get in line, and begin the long process of earning legal status and eventually, if they qualify, citizenship.

The message of the Evangelical Immigration Table is that we will work with members of both parties to encourage and support them as they work for legislation that upholds these principles. We take seriously the biblical call to pray for our leaders (1 Timothy 2:1-2) as they carry out their God-given responsibilities. Through the Pray for Reform campaign, more than 30,000 evangelical prayer partners are regularly praying for their members of Congress as they draft and debate legislation.

Over the August recess, evangelicals are attending congressional town halls, district meetings, and immigration reform roundtables. Our message is respectful, but urgent: We need action now, and we will support our leaders as they pass just laws. Those who cannot attend in person are praying for specific meetings and specific members of Congress. Local pastors are recording ads that will play on Christian and talk radio stations around the country. New participants continue to join the Pray for Reform campaign, receiving weekly updates with a specific focus for prayer.

Extremists on both the left and the right provide colorful footage for television cameras and outrageous comments suitable for tweeting. A majority of Americans, however, including most evangelicals, prefer a less sensational approach by both leaders and constituents. We expect our leaders to study the issues and discuss them calmly and rationally, among themselves and with their constituents. We seek, and expect them to seek, common ground for the common good. On immigration reform, such an approach is eminently possible. Legitimate concerns should be addressed, but no one should block reform for partisan gain.

Congressional leaders and political insiders say that the robust and passionate evangelical campaign for immigration reform may be the game changer that tips the scales and pushes reform across the finish line. We pray that is true. But we will leave the political analysis to the pundits. This August recess, we’re too busy mobilizing, educating, advocating, and praying for reform.

Galen Carey is the Vice President for Government Relations with the National Association of Evangelicals (NAE).

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  • davidfarrar1


    Hey! Have you heard? All you have to do now to illegally-legally cross our borders is say the words, “I have a credible fear of losing my life to the Mexican dug cartel.” and, bingo, you get an all expense, taxpayer paid trip to the front of the green card line, complete with free hotel rooms, transportation, food stamps. What an innovation over “anchor babies”. Thank you Mr. President.

    What a guy!

    ex animo

  • TheShaolinAbbot

    Mr David Farrari

    What you stated below is an opposite description of Senate’s S. 744 Bill…..which is tough, fair & practical…..it appears, your mind has been infected by Rep Steve King’s venoms.

  • GrandmaDebby

    We’re not “evangelical” as the word is generally used–we are “mainstream” and “liturgical” Christians, and we say Amen to this Pray for Reform campaign.

  • jrussell1

    I was raised to believe that Christianity and compassion cannot be separate. Although I am not an evangelical, I believe that all Christians should consider not only the immigration issue, but all issues with the compassion that each issue deserves. Thank you Mr. Carey for not forgetting the lessons that have been bestowed upon us by our Lord.

  • Charles Edward Brown

    NO AMNESTY and No pathway to US Citizenship for illegal aliens. We need our Federal Government to start enforcing our immigration laws. Deport all illegal aliens and make E-Verify both mandatory and retro-active. Employers should be Identifying the illegal aliens they have working for them and firing them.

  • doom_of_cthulhu

    One really has to wonder why there isn’t more discussion about the use of E-Verify to ensure citizenship prior to hiring by business owners. This program should be made mandatory for EVERY employer. When you stop hiring illegals, it opens doors for the employment of minorities and teenagers who already have limited options available to them.

  • MHughes976

    What do evangelicals regard as the moral basis of immigration law? It’s hard to see a Biblical basis since in the biblical world there was very little in way of immigration restriction on individuals and no one thought much about the matter.
    Should the objective be to keep out drugs, guns, criminals but not to restrict economic migration? The argument that many illegal immigrants have proved their worth to the host economy – which seems to mean that they have proved, into the bargain, that those who wished to restrict immigration have been acting massively against their own interests – and therefore should not be deported, seems to suggest that. At that rate, should the route to citizenship really be long and complex? Why not just welcome everyone who has a job and pays taxes and generally ‘complements the economy’? If the objective were different, and unrestricted economic migration essentially harmful, things would be different. But then at rate deportation should happen.

  • Pancho Cedric

    @ davidfarrar1 This is actually not true. You confuse the passing of a “credible fear” screening interview with an actual grant of asylum, and that initial screening process with the overall immigration removal process.

    And your concern is not about taxpayers’ money. Because if the real issues were about money, then you would support this immigration bill, which will decrease the deficit by hundreds of billions of dollars…

  • Alex Guardado

    I would just like to know, not trying to create conflict with you, but I would just like to know why You want every single “illegal alien” or how I like to say “undocumented immigrant” to be deported to their countries.