Is Immigration Reform 'A Moral Imperative'?
Political Advocacy Tracker is a roundup of what Christian activist organizations have been talking about the past week.
Renewing the Call for Reform
President Obama entered the Independence Day holiday weekend with a renewed call for comprehensive immigration reform. Speaking at American University, he said that "fixing our broken immigration system is not only a political issue, not just an economic issue, but a moral imperative as well." It was a view echoed by evangelical leaders, both right and left.
NAE president Leith Anderson said, "President Obama raised immigration higher on the national agenda. Now we are looking forward to Republicans and Democrats joining together to write and pass immigration reform legislation."
"It was encouraging to see a religiously and racially diverse audience of faith leaders standing with the president, calling for comprehensive immigration reform," said Sojourners president Jim Wallis. "Now the task is for religious leaders to stand up in their own communities and, in particular, press their own political representatives to put narrow political interests aside and take a moral stand for necessary reform."
Richard Land, president of the Southern Baptist Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission (ERLC), agreed. He and the Southern Baptist Convention have officially supported comprehensive immigration reform since 2006. However, Land said that before current immigrants are granted legal status, the U.S. must "[secure] the border first with measurable metrics that have been certified as met by the federal government in terms of stemming the flow of illegal immigration."
Faith in Public Life's Shannon Sullivan said such arguments calling for greater border security before enacting reform often represent a "false dichotomy."
"We cannot secure the border without comprehensive reform, without a way for individuals to legally and fairly enter the system," said Sullivan. "The faith community isn't backing down on the overwhelming need for reform. They know that the pragmatic and moral solution is a comprehensive one, and not one that relies on faulty logic and calls for militarization along our Southern border."
Both the American Family Association (AFA) and the American Center for Law and Justice (ACLJ) oppose the federal government's lawsuit against the state of Arizona's recent immigration law. The U.S. government claims that the law violates the Constitution because Congress alone has the power to regulate and enforce immigration policy.
ACLJ's chief counsel Jay Sekulow called the lawsuit "flawed" and "nothing more than a waste of taxpayer funds." He said the Arizona law is "both sound and constitutional."
"It's troubling that the federal government, which has repeatedly failed to secure our nation's borders, is now attempting to punish the state of Arizona for doing just that," said Sekulow. "Instead of spending taxpayer funds to challenge Arizona's constitutional right to protect its borders and its citizens, the Obama Administration should secure Arizona's borders and the borders of other states."
The AFA's Jeremy Wiggins said that "the federal government wants to take power from the states and give it solely to the federal government, which goes completely against what the framers intended." The Arizona law does not change federal immigration law, said Wiggins, it merely enforces the law differently. He said the lawsuit "is exactly what you would expect from a socialist run establishment."
Without taking a position on the law, ERLC's Land said, "The Arizona law is a cry for help from a state that is in crisis because the federal government has not done its job for many years now."