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In a full-page ad in the New York Times, eight Christian leaders joined with dozens of businessmen and law enforcement agencies to ask both sides of the political aisle to come together in “constructive conversation” around the immigration issue.

Faith leaders like Rev. Samuel Rodriguez of the National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference and Russell Moore of the Southern Baptist Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission signed their names to a letter that called on lawmakers to remember that “immigrants and immigration strengthen these United States.”

According to their website, the National Immigration Forum was started in 2013 and supports “broad immigration solutions that keep us secure, respect the rule of law, help grow our economy and are compassionate.”

Their board boasts officers from top-tier digital firms, like Dropbox, as well as representatives from the agricultural sector, like the Idaho Dairymen’s Association.

In an open advertisement, the members of the NIF write that immigrants are a valuable part of society because they “grow our economy, protect our nation and make up the fabric of our communities.”

Retired military officials joined with sheriffs from states like Arizona, Utah, Iowa and Wisconsin to call for civil discussion on this divisive and often partisan issue.

The members say they want officials to understand both sides of the issue and for lawmakers to “be a part of an American approach to immigration.”

That approach includes remembering our country’s heritage, which was founded on immigrants and has consistently opened its shores to waves of foreigners from Italy, Ireland, Germany, Africa, China and more.

From the late 1800s until roughly 1954, some 12 million immigrants passed through Ellis Island looking for a new life.

History.com states “that close to 40 percent of all current US citizens can trace at least one of their ancestors to Ellis Island.”

And according to the Department of Homeland Security, the US has continued that open door policy and now “welcomes 3,000 new citizens” each day while processing another 200 for refugee status.

The agency’s website proudly states, “America is a nation of immigrants,” and that diversity is the “backbone of our arts, industry, and culture.”

The site also speaks to the intrinsic values that built our land, adding, “American citizenship speaks to our character as a welcoming country that bestows upon us all of the rights and freedoms guaranteed by the US Constitution.”

This data implies that America is still standing by the words on the Statue of Liberty: “Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free, the wretched refuse of your teeming shore. Send these, the homeless, tempest-tossed to me. I lift my lamp beside the golden door!”

Though the decades may have changed and the face of immigration has shifted from largely Eastern European to include Latin America, Asia and Africa – NIF insists we should “encourage citizenship” and that by doing so it will allow the United States to “reach our fullest potential.”

NIF holds to the ideal that “America can be great only if we are good.”

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