Immigration Reform is a Christian Issue

On Friday, June 19th, over 750
influential Latino Evangelical clergy and leaders converged on
Washington, D.C., to pray for our country and its leaders, talk with
our members of Congress about immigration reform, housing, etc, and
hear from our President and Homeland Security Secretary Janet

Latino/a evangelicals where lead by the Rev. Luis Cortés, the
president and founder of Esperanza. By all accounts Esperanza is the
largest and most active Latino evangelical organization in the country
and has hosted the National Hispanic Prayer Breakfast for the past 6
years. The leadership of Esperanza has over 12,000 congregations and
over 500 not-for-profit faith organizations in its network. In the last
several years the National Hispanic Prayer breakfast has been attended
by President Obama, President George W. Bush, Senator John McCain,
Secretary Hilary Clinton, and members of Congress from all sides of the
political spectrum.

This year one message was made clear at the breakfast. What is that
message? The millions of Latino/a evangelicals are calling for fair and
humane immigration reform now. This is not just a political issue this
is a moral, spiritual issue that cannot wait.

2/3 of Americans agree that the immigration system is broken and is in
need of reform. Evangelical clergy are asking for a workable reform
that respects the law and conserves human dignity. Not reforming is not
a viable option; people will remain in the shadows and families will
continually be separated. A way has to be made for people to earn a
path to citizenship; even if this means paying a fine, and creating a
line for the close to 12

million undocumented immigrants.

The clergy gathered at the Esperanza National Hispanic Prayer
Breakfast are people of faith and compassion. We believe in finding a
balance between justice and mercy. There is a way forward that respects
the law, and honors human dignity. The voices who say that this is not
possible have not understood U.S. ingenuity and our incredible capacity
to find workable solutions. Moreover, voices that argue for a reform
that does not provide a path to citizenship underestimate this
countries’ incredible legacy and capacity for welcoming the stranger.
This welcoming the stranger has always honored existing citizens while
creating paths that are true to Emma Lazarus’ claim, “Bring me your
poor,your tired, your hungry….” It is also part of the ancient
Christian ethics of hospitality and generosity.

We heard President Obama commit to immigration reform as a
Presidential candidate. We know heard him repeat that commitment at the
breakfast. Our prayer now is for legislative action. The Hispanic
Congressional Caucus and leaders like Congressman Luis Gutierrez have
led a tour around the country emphasizing the impact of this issue for
thousand of U.S. citizens. While we understand the need for dealing
with the economic crisis, health care reform, and the challenges to
totalitarianism all over the world. We believe

that this Administration
and Congress have the capacity to enact comprehensive immigration
reform while responding to these issues responsibly. We earnestly
expect that this will not be delayed nor denied.

Future generations and millions of people of faith committed to
loving our neighbors and welcoming the stranger pray for comprehensive
and humane immigration reform now.


Gabriel Salguero
June 20, 2009; 7:10 PM ET

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