By Galen Carey, NAE Vice President of Government Relations
Following the adoption of the NAE resolution on immigration in 2009, NAE staff and members have met with more than 150 congressional offices, some many times, to encourage our elected leaders to fix our broken immigration system. We have also met with President Obama and members of his administration to make the same case for reform. We have sought to persuade our fellow citizens through dozens of op-eds, blogs and interviews with mainstream, religious and ethnic media.
Last June the Senate passed an immigration reform bill on a bipartisan, 68-32 vote. In the House of Representatives, the Judiciary Committee has passed five immigration bills, with several others still in development, each addressing a particular aspect of immigration reform. These need to be brought to the House floor for debate and passage. House leadership has also released a statement of principles that they will use to guide the development of their bills.
Ultimately the House and Senate bills will need to be reconciled into legislation that can be presented to President Obama for signature. Our leaders can and should be willing to come together to pass reform legislation this year.
Polls show that more than 70 percent of Americans, including a solid majority of evangelicals, support immigration reform. There is broad consensus on the major elements of reform, which include strengthening the enforcement of immigration laws at the border and throughout the country, fixing the legal immigration system so that employers can legally hire the workers they need, keeping families together, and allowing undocumented immigrants to earn legal status and eventually citizenship by paying fines and penalties, learning English, and going to the back of the legal immigration line.
The NAE has joined other evangelical organizations including the Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission of the Southern Baptist Convention and NAE members National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference, National Latino Evangelical Coalition and World Relief to form the Evangelical Immigration Table. Working together, we have amplified our voice in Washington. We have also mobilized evangelicals nationwide to study the Scriptures, pray for reform and advocate with their members of Congress.
- That evangelicals will continue to share the gospel with the immigrants and refugees whom God sends to our shores, and that many will join us in following Jesus;
- That exemplary treatment of immigrants by Christians will serve as the moral basis to call for government attitudes and legislation to reflect the same virtues;
- That our government will safeguard the national borders with efficiency and respect for human dignity;
- That families who are currently separated by delays in immigration processing will be quickly reunited;
- That our elected leaders will have courage to make wise decisions that put the health of the nation ahead of partisan political gain.