STATEMENT: CAP Applauds Faith Leaders’ Push for Immigration Reform

The Center for American Progress applauds the leaders of the nation’s collective evangelical community for calling on Congress to enact comprehensive immigration reform that enhances programs for family reunification and workers, and a mechanism to legalize the current undocumented population in the United States.

The 75-member board of directors of the National Association of Evangelicals, which represents 40 denominations including the Assemblies of God and Church and the Church of the Nazarene, unanimously adopted a resolution on Thursday that endorses broad immigration reforms that respect “human dignity.” Read the NAE statement here.

The center also commends Senate Immigration Subcommittee Chairman Charles Schumer (D-NY) for holding a hearing Thursday on the growing role of faith-based communities in the immigration debate.

Schumer noted that the church leaders, along with the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops and other religious groups, would provide “pastoral counseling” to Congress as it begins its deliberations on an immigration bill.

“This is going to have real effect,” Schumer said of the major endorsement by the evangelical community.

The faith-based community’s backing for comprehensive immigration reform legislation followed two years of study, its leaders said.

“This is an unprecedented and powerful new voice that reflects how the mainstream in our country views this issue,” said Angela M. Kelley, Vice President for Immigration Policy and Advocacy at American Progress.

“It transcends the usual left-versus-right, conservative-versus-liberal conclusions,” Kelley added. “What it speaks to is that there is a shared underlying moral imperative that reform is needed.”

The growing trend of grassroots activism by faith communities in support of immigration reform was documented in a recent report by the Center for American Progress, “Loving Thy Neighbor: Immigration Reform and Communities of Faith.

The report was offered as an “antidote to the mistaken belief that ordinary people of faith are not involved in political advocacy or shy from pressing their influence in national debates and policies affecting immigrants.”

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