Evangelical leaders descend on Capitol Hill to advocate for immigration reform now – Baptist News Global

About 200 evangelical leaders, including many megachurch pastors from across the country, descended on Washington, DC, on May 3 for two days of intense lobbying of Congress on the issue of immigration reform.

The faith-based blitz was coordinated by the National Association of Evangelicals, World Relief, the Evangelical Immigration Table and the Alliance for a New Consensus on Immigration, whose combined members represent dozens of Christian, business, educational and civic organizations united in support of stronger border protections and more compassionate treatment of Dreamers, migrant workers, refugees and asylum seekers.

Galen Carey

The two-day push is designed to inspire the adoption of ‘bipartisan, common-sense’ reforms ‘that are urgently needed to fix our broken immigration system and bring relief to those whose status is in limbo. and to bring greater security to our nation,” Galen said. Carey, vice president of government relations for the NAE.

Present immigration as a “pro-life” issue, Carey capitalized on Politico’s May 3 exclusive report on a leaked Supreme Court filing that indicates the court plans to overturn Roe vs. Wade.

“We believe that all people are created in the image of God and have inherent human dignity, both the born and the unborn,” he said. “And the same impetus for the protection of the unborn child is what brings us together today to talk about the need to protect and welcome the immigrants and refugees who come to our country and to receive them with the love of Christ”.

The two-day blitz includes virtual and in-person meetings with U.S. senators and their staff, organizers explained in a press release. “The advocacy of these evangelicals comes at a time when key senators from both parties would come together to forge bipartisan solutions to key immigration policy issues such as the ongoing legal challenge facing recipients of the action. delayed for child arrivals and high levels of apprehension in the United States. -Mexican border.

Ministers are also equipped with a recent National Immigration Forum poll revealing that 89% of evangelical voters – including 81% white evangelicals – support citizenship for Dreamers, protections for migrant farm workers and improved border security and management. .

Derwin Gray

Derwin Gray, senior pastor of Transformation Church in Indian Land, SC, followed Carey’s press conference remarks with a plea for lawmakers to consider Jesus’ example when formulating their views on church reform. ‘immigration.

“As a pastor of a multi-ethnic church where we all have swirls of colors and ethnicities, Jesus not only forgives sins, but He gives us a family with different skin colors. And many of our family members are immigrants — they’re refugees, they’re asylum seekers. They want to be part of this amazing nation that is America,” said Gray, author of How to Heal Our Racial Divide.

Gray said he came to Washington this week to demand citizenship for Dreamers and better treatment for refugees and other immigrants.

“We want people created in the image of God to be treated with dignity, with decency, with honor, with respect. Our prayer and hope is that there will be smart and reasonable immigration reform that not only secures our borders, but also protects the dignity and worth of human beings.

Catherine Freeman

Kathryn Freeman, Texas advocacy mobilizer for World Relief, said she plans to champion the Dreamers while on Capitol Hill.

“Dreamers are valuable to our Texas economy, but more than that, they are valuable to our churches. They are young men and women who have served their country and are making a positive contribution to our churches. They are Sunday school teachers, they are youth leaders, and we fear they cannot stay in the country they love – the only place they have ever known,” said said Freeman, a former Texas public policy director. Baptist Christian Life Commission.

“So we’re here calling on Congress to act on a bipartisan basis to provide a path to citizenship for the Dreamers to show them… if we have disagreements on other political issues, we can agree that the Dreamers deserve a place in our country and they deserve a place in our churches.

Reid Kapple said his appeal to senators will not only focus on the Dreamers, but also on providing pathways to citizenship for Afghan refugees.

Reid Kapple

“While I am grateful for the immediacy of bringing these evacuees here to the United States, what they did was place them in this very unfortunate and ultimately unnecessary status of parolees,” said Kapple, campus pastor of Christ Community Church in Olathe, Can.

Kapple said his multi-campus church works with other organizations in the Kansas City metro area to find jobs, housing and other services for hundreds of Afghans who have settled in the area. But time is running out for many of them.

“This status only has a lifespan of two years,” he said. “To date, Congress has taken no action to provide a clear and permanent path for these new neighbors of ours.”

The Christian faith should compel support for immigration reform, he added. “It is imperative that we move here, not only because it is an extrinsic good for these Afghan refugees and neighbors, but an intrinsic good that allows us to continue living who we are as a nation of immigrants and of host nation. and hospitality.

Manuel Mendoza

Baptist minister Manuel Mendoza said the Bible should be the starting point when considering immigration reform.

“I think many Christians would be surprised how many times God uses the word ‘sojourner’ or ‘stranger’ in the Old Testament. … There are countless other examples of where God has blessed people who have welcomed the stranger,” said Mendoza, pastor of the Spanish-speaking congregation at Morningside Baptist Church in Greenville, South Carolina.

The reforms he and others are pushing for in Congress will have a direct impact on many in his own congregation, he said.

“What I hope to accomplish is so that my voice will be heard for those who have no voice at this time. I want to speak on behalf of those who build houses or clean them. I want to speak on behalf of those who choose our food or prepare our food. I want to speak for those who are sometimes lost in the shadows or overlooked. I have come to encourage and embolden our legislators to help rise up and be that voice so we can enact charitable and compassionate immigration reform.

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Barry F. Howard