Faith leaders from both the left and the right were present to speak at a press conference with leaders in law enforcement and business for Forging a New Consensus on Immigrants and American, a project of the National Immigration Forum urging the President and politicians for sensible “immigration reform” in 2013. The project advocates a legalization process for illegal immigrants.
Though the speakers came from different Christian traditions, they all agreed that just immigration reform should be a top priority for the current administration and elected representatives in Washington. “Immigration is a humanitarian issue with moral implications. Our country can no longer accept the toil and sweat equity of undocumented workers while at the same time scapegoating them, diving their families, and denying them basic protections,” says The Most Reverend Jaime Soto, Bishop of Sacramento of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops.
For the speakers, immigration reform is not just another partisan issue but one with moral implications in a life of faith. Reverend Samuel Rodriguez, President of the National Hispanic Christian Leadership, conference sees it reflecting both our relationship with God and our neighbor, saying, “Immigration reform is both a vertical and a horizontal issue. Vertically, the heart of God stands moved by the plight of the immigrant and the suffering. Horizontally, passing immigration reform will serve as a reconciliatory prescription for a nation divided by partisan politics. At the end of the day, this issue is not about the agenda of the donkey or the elephant. Immigration reform is about the agenda of the Lamb.”
All the speakers agreed that a pro-life ethic that affirms the dignity of the human person and the family is incomplete without immigration reform. Dr. Richard Land, President of the Southern Baptist Convention Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission, cited passages such as Leviticus 19:33-34 and Matthew 25:35, as a basis for reform from a Christian understanding, “Fair and just immigration reform is first and foremost a moral issue” he said “God has definite opinions about how we treat ‘the stranger in our midst.’ We must resolve our nation’s immigration crisis and reform its immigration system in ways that respect the rule of law and the human dignity of the undocumented.”
Above all, any progress on immigration reform would have to involve some reaching across the wall, not just in Congress but in businesses and churches as well, the speakers said. They saw the press conference, with its representatives from across the left/right spectrum as a bold step in the right direction. Closing out the speakers, Jim Wallis, President and CEO of Sojourners, added, “It’s quite an accomplishment to get Bible, Badges, and Business together all in one room and agreeing on something this big. This reminds us all that Christmas really is a time of miracles. The country is hungry to see our political leaders work together and find a bipartisan solution to an issue of this magnitude. And I have faith that comprehensive immigration reform is that common ground.”
Video and photos from the press conference can be found here.