Divided by politics and policy, the Senate failed to pass immigration legislation before its April recess. Evangelicals have likewise struggled to reach consensus, as leaders articulated different moral priorities.
Evangelical groups including the National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference (NHCLC), World Relief, and the World Evangelical Alliance, sent a letter April 5 to President Bush and members of Congress advocating immigration reforms. The letter did not endorse a specific Senate proposal. But the recommendations bore similarities to bills that would create a guest worker program for illegal immigrants and allow some already living in the United States to apply for citizenship.
One day after the letter was released, Senate leaders announced they had compromised on a bill to separate about 11 million illegal immigrants into three categories.
Those living in the United States more than five years could work for six years and apply for permanent residency if they remained employed, had background checks, learned English, and paid fines and back taxes. Those living in the United States two to five years would have to return home within the next three years to apply for a temporary work visa. Those here less than two years, about 1 million people, would have to leave the country and apply for visas to return.
The Senate compromise also would allow for a new program for 1.5 million temporary agriculture workers. Finally, the bill calls for surveillance cameras and other technology to monitor the nearly 2,000-mile U.S.-Mexican border.
Samuel Rodriguez Jr., president of NHCLC, remained confident the Senate could finish a deal by the end of April. Rodriguez told CT that if Congress does not move on a bill, "there is going ...