Update (Aug. 21): Local pastors will tape radio ads in 56 congressional districts in 14 states, part of the Evangelical Immigration Table's latest and biggest push for comprehensive immigration reform.
According to the Washington Post:
The ads, featuring local pastors, will be broadcast primarily on Christian radio stations over the next two weeks at a cost of $400,000, organizers said.
They will air in Alabama, Arkansas, California, Colorado, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Louisiana, Missouri, Oklahoma, North Carolina, South Carolina, Texas and Wisconsin.
CT noted the EIT's continued efforts (and President Obama's response) in advance of a sweeping reform bill passing the Senate in June, as well as the leading role played in the EIT by World Relief's Jenny Yang.
Leaders of the Evangelical Immigration Table were quick to comment.
"We applaud the Senate's courage and bipartisan nature in proposing a set of principles [that] include much-needed reforms to our outdated immigration system," said Stephan Bauman, president and CEO of World Relief, in a press release.
"Congress does not often exceed my expectations," said Richard Land, president of the Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission of the Southern Baptist Convention. "But these principles, and this demonstration of bipartisanship by our leaders, certainly have."
Comments from Leith Anderson, Noel Castellanos, Luis Cortez, Robert Gittelson, Samuel Rodriguez, Gabriel Salguero, Mat Staver, and Jim Wallis can be found at the bottom of this post.
[First published Jan. 14, 2013, under headline "New Video Launches 'Largest Ever' Immigration Reform Effort by Evangelicals"]
President Barack Obama is not the only one preparing for a heavy push on comprehensive immigration reform in the coming months. Today evangelical leaders launched fresh efforts to raise support as well, releasing a new video featuring Max Lucado, Bill Hybels, Richard Land, Leith Anderson, Samuel Rodriguez, and Joel Hunter, among others.
More than 150 evangelical leaders have renewed their calls for comprehensive immigration reform by signing on to the Evangelical Immigration Table (EIT), a relatively new initiative that unites, among others, unlikely partners such as Sojourners and the Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission of the Southern Baptist Convention. According to CNN, a new video launched today will serve as the campaign's "first concerted push on immigration, with the goal of getting meaningful immigration reform through Congress in 2013."
And if all goes according to the president's plan, new legislation could come as early as August, reports The New York Times. Obama will urge the newly inaugurated 113th Congress to move quickly on an immigration reform package that likely will include a path to citizenship for undocumented immigrants, as well as "nationwide verification of legal status for all newly hired workers; add visas to relieve backlogs and allow highly skilled immigrants to stay; and create some form of guest-worker program to bring in low-wage immigrants in the future."
Previous comprehensive immigration reform bills have stalled in Congress, where legislators often have attempted to repair the broken immigration system in a piecemeal fashion. Others have criticized previous reform attempts as "amnesty" for undocumented immigrants who entered or remain in the country illegally.
Conservative Christians and the GOP have previously been among those opposed to comprehensive reform, but CT reported on renewed evangelical interest in immigration reform following the November 2012 elections, as well as what June's Evangelical Statement of Principles for Immigration Reform really means and why Focus on the Family's Jim Daly signed on. CT ran a Village Green presenting three views on what reform should look like, and our September cover story focused on evangelical efforts in Phoenix to "love the sojourner" while waiting for immigration laws to change.
Reactions from leaders of the Evangelical Immigration Table to a bipartisan Senate proposal on immigration reform issued Jan. 28:
Leith Anderson, President, National Association of Evangelicals:
"Now is the time for immigration reform. We've settled too long for a broken system, and now the nation is ready for changes that are just, reasonable and compassionate. Let's make immigration the issue where our political parties can come together and do what is right."
Stephan Bauman, President and CEO, World Relief:
"We applaud the Senate's courage and bipartisan nature in proposing a set of principles for immigration reform legislation. The principles include much-needed reforms to our outdated immigration system, and we urge the Senate to pass reforms that include an earned pathway to eventual citizenship, strong support for family unity, and provisions that would facilitate the integration of immigrants into our society in partnership with the faith-based community. We hope this step forward by the Senate today will lead to a robust and open political process for immigration reform, one we can celebrate within the greater evangelical community. We look forward to working with members in both the Senate and House in coming months to address this critical issue."
Noel Castellanos, CEO, Christian Community Development Association:
"The leaders of the Christian Community Development Association (CCDA), which represents hundreds of local organizations working in immigrant communities throughout the nation, applaud the principles released by Senate leaders working to fix our broken immigration. The faith community is ready to stand by a proposal that respects the dignity of the 11 million men, women and children trapped in our current system, provides a fair integration into our U.S. society, and assures the security and prosperity of our nation. We are ready to work together to get immigration reform passed!"
Reverend Luis Cortés, President, Esperanza:
"We find ourselves in a defining moment, a moment when people of all backgrounds, political persuasions and religious convictions are acknowledging that we must solve this civil and human rights crisis in our country once and for all. We support this bipartisan effort and the immigration reform principles put forth in the senators' proposal, and we thank those who are leading the effort for doing their part. May they experience the full support of a nation and a government ready to fix the broken system we have lived with for far too long."
Robert Gittelson, President, Conservatives for Comprehensive Immigration Reform:
"It is encouraging that the set of principles released by this important and influential group of senators is very much in line with the principles that we have long been advocating for them to advance. Their outline is balanced and just. While we acknowledge that the 'devil is in the details,' we are optimistic that these reasonable principles will serve as a fair and broad outline that should hopefully lead to solutions that will once and for all solve the very intractable problems inherent in our broken and antiquated immigration system."
Dr. Richard Land, President, Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission of the Southern Baptist Convention:
"Congress does not often exceed my expectations. But these principles, and this demonstration of bipartisanship by our leaders, certainly have. The senators have introduced principles for a bill that has a true chance of passing. I think they sense this is a real opportunity. Not only should we be encouraged but we should understand that this is truly what St. Paul would call a 'kairos,' or propitious, moment to be seized. The momentum needs to be used to pass significant and helpful immigration reform."
Rev. Samuel Rodriguez, President, National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference:
"The National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference commends and applauds the principals proposed by United States Senators committed to finding a solution to the immigration crisis. As a member of the Evangelical Immigration Table, the NHCLC stands committed to an outcome that reconciles conviction with compassion, security with integration, all while recognizing the image of God in citizen and immigrant alike. Accordingly, while we continue to engage in prophetic activism, we also continue in our 'I Was a Stranger' prayer challenge. For we understand that prayer and activism result in one thing: justice in the name of Jesus!"
Dr. Carl Ruby, Vice President for Student Life, Cedarville University
"What excites me about this moment is the momentum that I see among evangelical university students. All across the country, young evangelicals are rallying around this issue. They see it as an act of living out their faith and honoring Christ's call to minister to the marginalized. They view it through the lens of civil rights and they don't want to be on the wrong side of history, as many white evangelicals were during the civil right movement. This is their moment to get an issue right, and that energizes their support for comprehensive immigration reform."
Rev. Gabriel Salguero, President, National Latino Evangelical Coalition:
"The National Latino Evangelical Coalition (NaLEC) and its 3,000 congregations are hopeful that the principles for immigration reform laid out in a bipartisan manner provides real hope to the 11 million women, children and men who remain undocumented. This legislation is an honest compromise that can move the nation forward in healthy ways."
Mat Staver, Founder and Chairman, Liberty Counsel, and Chief Counsel, National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference:
"I applaud the bipartisan group of Senators working together to reform our broken immigration system. We need to secure our borders, enforce our laws, and provide opportunities for undocumented immigrants to come out of the shadows and participate in the American dream."
Rev. Jim Wallis, President and CEO, Sojourners:
"A bipartisan group of Senators has spoken: No legislation can be called immigration reform without a roadmap to citizenship. Creating a just and compassionate immigration system that meets the needs of the 21st century won't happen overnight and it won't be easy. For years the faith community has been calling for change, and we will be watching every step of the way to ensure that families are protected and the dignity of every one of God's children is respected. We expect and demand nothing less. For us, this isn't just a matter of politics, but one of faith and obedience to Jesus' call in Matthew 25 for his followers to 'welcome the stranger.'"