NHCLC IMMIGRATION PRESS STATEMENT

 Justice will on occasion march, on other occasions protest and yet on other occasions sing but Justice will always speak for those that cannot speak for themselves. “We are Evangelicals. We stand committed to the Good News. We stand convicted by the mandate to do justice, love mercy and walk humbly before God. We stand in covenant as Rev. Samuel Rodriguez frequently states, “Not to the Agenda of the Donkey or the Agenda of the Elephant but to the Agenda of the Lamb”.

Why? Because in the absence of immigration reform, millions of immigrants live in fear of being separated from their families. As evangelical churches minister to the immigrants in their midst, we persistently confront the dysfunction of our current immigration legal system, a system that mocks the rule of law; only selectively enforces laws against both immigrant workers and employers; invites unjust working conditions, and even human trafficking; divides families through deportation and backlogs for lawful family reunification; and stifles the full flourishing of people made in God’s image.

Accordingly, our evangelical optics require us to see the Imago Dei, the image of God in every human being; poor and rich, white and black, citizen and immigrant. Today, collaboratively we raise a clarion call as leaders of faith and followers of Jesus for all Christians and people of faith to repudiate political expediency and embrace a prophetic posture of compassionate justice.

Finally the question arises, can our generation reconcile Billy Graham’s message with Dr. Martin Luther King’s march? Can our generation of evangelicals stand up with a compassionate and biblical solution to the immigration dilemma?  Or will evangelicals stay silent on the sidelines as millions live in the shadows of disillusionment and fear. Today, this gathering says, Evangelicals will marry righteousness with justice. Justice that will secure our borders, our families, our values, hard working God loving immigrants and the image of God in every human being

About The NHCLC

The National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference is the Hispanic Evangelical Association, America’s largest Hispanic Christian Organization.  The NHCLC exists to unify, serve and represent the Hispanic Born Again Community via 40,118 member churches and over 16 million constituents by reconciling the vertical and horizontal of the Christian message through the 7 Directives of Life, Family, Great Commission, Stewardship, Justice, Education and Youth.

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FOR MORE INFORMATION & INTERVIEWS:

NHCLC Marketing & PR Director

Matti Stevenson · 719.360.0586

mattistevenson@nhclc.org

 

 

Evangelical Groups Call for New Stance on Illegal Immigration

June 12, 2012

By Trip Gabriel

Some of the nation’s most influential evangelical groups urged a solution to illegal immigration on Tuesday that defies the harsh rhetoric of the Republican primary race, which continues to undermine Mitt Romney’s appeal to Hispanic voters.

The call by the groups represents a recognition that in one bedrock element of the conservative movement — evangelical Christians — the demography of their followers is changing, becoming more Hispanic, and that Republican leaders risk being out of step with their hawkish talk of border fences and immigration crackdowns like those in Arizona.

Tom Minnery, the senior vice president of policy for one evangelical group, Focus on the Family, said many of the 11 million to 12 million illegal immigrants should be free to “come out of the shadows” and “begin the process of restitution” leading to attaining legal residency.

Mr. Minnery spoke at a Capitol Hill news conference called to announce that more than 150 Christian evangelical leaders, including from the Southern Baptist Convention and the National Association of Evangelicals, were endorsing an overhaul of immigration policy.

The evangelical leaders expressed opposition to such notions as “self-deportation,” which Mr. Romney favored in a Republican debate and which urges strict enforcement of laws to encourage illegal immigrant workers to leave the country.

The situation is considered all the more critical given that some important swing states in the coming election — including Colorado, Florida and Nevada — have large Hispanic populations that leading Republicans say they must win over to prevail in the states.

“This is the tipping point to finally convince Republican operatives that they must redeem the narrative on immigration reform in order to be a viable party in America’s political landscape in the 21st century,” said the Rev. Samuel Rodriguez, president of the National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference.

Mr. Rodriguez said he met last week with aides to Mr. Romney, the presumptive Republican nominee, to urge him to moderate his positions.

He noted that Hispanics, who account for about 7.5 million of the 82 million evangelicals in the country, are the fastest-growing segment. Hispanic evangelicals are more likely than other Hispanics to identify as conservative and Republican.

But so far Mr. Romney has shown no inclination to shift his positions from the primary season, when he attacked his rivals Newt Gingrich and Gov. Rick Perry of Texas for their more moderate immigration stances.

Although he has campaigned with Senator Marco Rubio of Florida, a Cuban-American popular with the Tea Party, Mr. Romney has not endorsed Mr. Rubio’s proposal to grant a path to legal residency for some children of illegal immigrants.

Mr. Romney plans to address a national meeting of elected Hispanic officials on June 21 in Orlando, Fla., and is expected to speak about immigration.

For now, Mr. Romney’s strategists argue that he need not change his positions because Latino voters will cast ballots in November based on the economy, not immigration.

“Governor Romney believes that legal immigration is a source of strength for America and that to protect legal immigration we must address illegal immigration in a civil but resolute manner,” said Alberto Martinez, an adviser to Mr. Romney in Florida.

“As president, Governor Romney would work with any groups on a reform that strengthens legal immigration, secures our borders, respects those who are waiting patiently to enter legally and ensures that we do not encourage further illegal immigration.”

A pro-reform movement has been percolating among evangelical groups for the past two to three years, with organizations and churches that align with Republicans on issues like abortion and gay marriage supporting President Obama on immigration reform.

The National Association of Evangelicals, which represents more than 40 denominations, passed a resolution calling for a comprehensive immigration overhaul in 2009. The Southern Baptist Convention did so last year.

It called for “just, fair immigration reform,” said Richard Land, president of the Southern Baptists’ ethics commission, who also attended Tuesday’s news conference.

“It passed with at least an 80 percent vote,” he said, “and four of five Southern Baptists is about as good as you’re going to get on any given day on anything.”

But Focus on the Family, the radio ministry based in Colorado, was a newcomer to the cause of an immigration overhaul.

While some advocates favor a path to citizenship for many illegal immigrants, Mr. Minnery of Focus on the Family advocated a path to legal status, like a work visa, only after a fine is paid.

“These are the victims of economic misery, so there’s compassion necessary,” Mr. Minnery said. “But making restitution is a first step.”

“I think the people are in a different spot than the politicians are on this issue,” he added. “I think people are tired of the rhetoric and looking for some improvement in the immigration system.”

If illegal immigrants are going to be asked to get in line for legal status, first “you have to get the lines moving,” he said.

Linkhttp://www.nytimes.com/2012/06/13/us/politics/evangelical-groups-call-for-new-stance-on-illegal-immigration.html?_r=2&ref=politics

 

 

Hispanic Evangelicals Speak Out on Immigration Reform

June 12, 2012

By: Jennifer LeClaire

President Obama is facing pressure from Hispanics—including evangelical Hispanics—to do more for their population.

The New York Times is reporting that many Latinos don’t believe Obama’s immigration policies are driving the results he promised during his 2008 campaign.

“People are saying, ‘What gives?’” Clarissa Martínez de Castro, director of immigration issues for the National Council of La Raza, told The New York Times. “Immigration is deeply personal for many of our voters, and there is disillusionment out there.”

The National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference is the Hispanic Evangelical Association, America’s largest Hispanic Christian Organization, issued the following statement:

“Justice will on occasion march, on other occasions protest and yet on other occasions sing. But Justice will always speak for those that cannot speak for themselves. We are Evangelicals. We stand committed to the Good News. We stand convicted by the mandate to do justice, love mercy and walk humbly before God. We stand in covenant as Rev. Samuel Rodriguez frequently states, ‘Not to the Agenda of the Donkey or the Agenda of the Elephant but to the Agenda of the Lamb.’

“Why? Because in the absence of immigration reform, millions of immigrants live in fear of being separated from their families. As evangelical churches minister to the immigrants in their midst, we persistently confront the dysfunction of our current immigration legal system, a system that mocks the rule of law; only selectively enforces laws against both immigrant workers and employers; invites unjust working conditions, and even human trafficking; divides families through deportation and backlogs for lawful family reunification; and stifles the full flourishing of people made in God’s image.

“Accordingly, our evangelical optics require us to see the Imago Dei, the image of God in every human being; poor and rich, white and black, citizen and immigrant. Today, collaboratively we raise a clarion call as leaders of faith and followers of Jesus for all Christians and people of faith to repudiate political expediency and embrace a prophetic posture of compassionate justice.

“Finally the question arises, can our generation reconcile Billy Graham’s message with Dr. Martin Luther King’s march? Can our generation of evangelicals stand up with a compassionate and biblical solution to the immigration dilemma? Or will evangelicals stay silent on the sidelines as millions live in the shadows of disillusionment and fear. Today, this gathering says, Evangelicals will marry righteousness with justice. Justice that will secure our borders, our families, our values, hard working God loving immigrants and the image of God in every human being.”

 

 

Evangelical Group Calls For Bipartisan, ‘Humane’ Immigration Reform

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

By Jerilyn Forsythe

WASHINGTON – Representatives of nine Christian organizations said Tuesday they have banded together to promote “humane and bipartisan” U.S. immigration reform policy.

The leaders of the Evangelical Immigration Table did not mention or endorse any specific public policies, but laid out six principles of reform that they hope will guide national leaders. They said more than 150 religious leaders have signed on to their statement.

“We must begin to work toward a balanced solution to this immigration crisis, a solution that is both just and compassionate,” said David Fleming, senior pastor of Champion Forest Baptist Church near Houston. “And the current immigration system is neither.”

While the group has not taken any policy positions, one religious history professor called it important that such a “remarkably politically diverse” group of churches was taking a stand.

“If they could somehow persuade … the religious right to back a proposal, I think it has a potential to be a significant development,” said Randall Balmer, professor of American religious history at Dartmouth College.

The principles laid out by the group have the backing of Baptist, evangelical, Hispanic and black congregations, religious schools and seminaries, writers and pastors, among others.

The Evangelical Immigration Table said it wants politicians to pursue immigration reform based on the “Evangelical Statement of Principles of Immigration Reform.” They include respect and dignity for every person, respect for the law, protection of the nuclear family, securing national borders, ensuring fairness to taxpayers, and creating a path toward citizenship.

The group has planned newspaper and radio ads touting the principles.

Carlos Moran, Tennessee director for the National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference, said after Tuesday’s news conference that the “dysfunction of our current immigration legal system” has left the door open for states like Arizona to pass their own immigration laws.

“Arizona, of course, reflects the concern that many states have: How to deal with an immigration system that is dysfunction and broken,” Moran said. “It’s an example of people wanting to remedy a situation.”

While he said he thinks that Arizona’s path is “probably a little too drastic,” he said such situations also challenge the Evangelical Immigration Table to move more quickly “to do something right.”

Religious groups have been calling on Congress for a long time to pass more humane immigration laws, but the emergence of self-identified conservative religious groups is fairly new, said an official of the National Council of La Raza, a Hispanic-rights advocacy group.

“We welcome the incursion of … groups who describe themselves as more conservative,” said Clarissa Martinez, director of immigration and civic engagement for La Raza.

She credited their interest to a realization that the way the country is handling immigration “really violates fundamental religious teaching and family values.”

She said the debate, particularly in Arizona, has shifted “to close the space where the actual majority of the people stand.”

“The more groups coming to the table and pushing forward with that, will drown out the more radical voices that have been allowed to speak freely,” Martinez said.

Evangelical Statement of Principles for Immigration Reform

More than 150 Evangelical leaders, writers, academics and others have signed on to the six principles laid out by the leaders of the Evangelical Immigration Table. They called for reform 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.