Evangelicals Praise Bipartisan Effort to Reform US Immigration Laws

Authored by the Evangelical Immigration Table and originally published on evangelicalimmigrationtable.com

Washington D.C.— Last week, U.S. Reps. Maria Elvira Salazar (R-FL), Veronica Escobar (D-TX) and several other bipartisan co-sponsors introduced a bill that aims to reform U.S. immigration laws.

We affirm this good-faith effort from lawmakers to reach across party lines and push forward desperately needed immigration reforms. Among other elements, the Dignity Act would invest in border security, create a path to citizenship for Dreamers and other longtime residents of the U.S. stuck in perpetual “temporary” status and establish a process by which the broader population of undocumented immigrants could come forward, pay fines and then earn the chance to stay permanently in the U.S., including the option to pursue naturalization.

Many elements of the Dignity Act are consistent with what the Evangelical Immigration Table has called for since its launch in 2012 — a bipartisan immigration solution 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.
  • Establishes a path toward legal status and/or citizenship for those who qualify and who wish to become permanent residents.

Thousands of evangelical pastors and leaders have joined the call for reforms consistent with these six principles, each of which is supported by at least 81% of Americans with evangelical beliefs, according to a Lifeway Research study released last year.

The following are quotes from leaders of Evangelical Immigration Table organizations:

Myal Greene, President & CEO, World Relief: 

“Legislative reforms to the entire U.S. immigration system are long overdue, but the only path toward broad, durable reforms is through bipartisan cooperation. I’m thankful to Rep. Salazar, Rep. Escobar and the other original cosponsors of this bill for doing the hard work of forging consensus across the partisan lines that for decades have stymied real reforms from passing into law. Consistent with the biblical conviction that all human beings are made in the image of God with inherent dignity and potential, the Dignity Act would allow undocumented immigrants to earn permanent legal status and eventual citizenship if they pay a fine and meet other requirements. I pray that both Republicans and Democrats in Congress will come to the negotiation table to finally realize reforms that both secure our borders and show compassion to immigrants.”

Shirley Hoogstra, President, Council for Christian Colleges & Universities: 

“For the many Christian college campuses with students whose long-term ability to reside and work lawfully in the United States is uncertain, a legislative solution for Dreamers is an urgent priority. We appreciate that this effort would provide a path to citizenship for Dreamers, just as we have affirmed past congressional efforts that address this urgent concern. I pray this bill’s introduction will serve as a catalyst for the bipartisan negotiations necessary to finally resolve these challenges.”

Walter Kim, President, National Association of Evangelicals: 

“The Dignity Act represents one of the best good-faith efforts toward comprehensive immigration reform that we have seen in years. Evangelicals believe that all people have been made in the image of God. This legislation takes into account the intrinsic dignity of undocumented immigrants, offers functional legal mechanisms for immigration, and respects due process and secure borders.”

Brent Leatherwood, President, Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission of the Southern Baptist Convention:  

“For too long, immigration reform and border security have been pitted against one another. That shouldn’t be the case. This proposal provides a framework that encompasses both of those perspectives and, more importantly, starts from the position of affirming the inherent dignity and worth of each and every individual. This issue is too important to be sidelined by partisan politics. I am hopeful that what Congresswoman Salazar, Congresswoman Escobar, and other bipartisan cosponsors have put forth here signals the beginning of a concentrated effort to reform our broken immigration system.”

Gabriel Salguero, President, National Latino Evangelical Coalition: 

“Harsh state laws — including in my own state of Florida — are making life increasingly difficult for our undocumented neighbors, including many sisters and brothers in Christ. The need for federal legislation to finally allow the undocumented to earn permanent legal status and, eventually, citizenship is more dire than ever, and the only way that can happen is through bipartisan congressional negotiation. I pray this bill’s introduction will bring us closer to those long overdue reforms.”


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