Evangelical Leaders Call for Immigration Overhaul
Evangelical Christian leaders took up a bully pulpit on Thursday to call for a “humane” overhaul of the U.S. immigration system in response to tough crackdowns on illegal immigrants enacted by Alabama and other states.
“Because I’m a Christian I believe in comprehensive, common-sense, humane immigration policy,” the Rev. Gabriel Salguero, president of the New York-based National Latino Evangelical Coalition, told a conference of evangelical leaders in Birmingham.
“Hospitality is not at the margins of scripture. Jesus wasn’t kidding around when he said, ‘I was a stranger and you welcomed me,’” Salguero said at the G92 South Immigration Conference at Samford University.
Alabama, Georgia, Indiana, South Carolina and Utah have all passed “omnibus” immigration crackdowns since Arizona blazed the trail in 2010 with a law requiring police to check the status of all those they arrested and suspected of being in the country illegally — a measure since blocked by a court.
The conference, whose name is derived from the 92 references in the Old Testament to “ger,” Hebrew for stranger or immigrant, brought together evangelical Christians, legal experts and ethicists “to respond to immigration issues in a biblical way.”
“We are called to welcome the stranger, that’s what scripture tells us. We’re not asking people to break the law, we’re asking to reform a broken law,” Salguero said of federal immigration policies. “It’s a complex, complicated issue, but its not unsolvable.”