June 9th, 2010
04:28 PM ET
10 years ago

Conservative evangelical leaders embrace path to citizenship

Washington (CNN) - A group of conservative evangelical leaders broke with their political brethren Wednesday, coming to Washington to push the White House and congressional leaders to pass comprehensive immigration reform that includes a path for undocumented immigrants to attain legal status.

Political conservatives have long balked at an immigration policy that includes what they term "amnesty" for illegal immigrants, but the evangelicals see the issue differently.

"A significant part of our churches and denominations are part of the immigrant community so we have a very close connection and a very great interest," Leith Anderson, president of the influential lobbying group National Evangelical Association, said Wednesday, " ... but our interest is really rooted in what the bible teaches how we treat people and how we treat particularly people who are aliens or strangers in the land."

Anderson's group last year authored a resolution in favor of reform using biblical immigrants Abraham, Joseph, Naomi, Mary and Jesus. Their examples, the group said, "reveal God's hand in the movement of people and are illustrations of faith and God in difficult circumstances."

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Filed under: Immigration
soundoff (26 Responses)
  1. Expat American

    Hmmmm....this is interesting...undoubtedly unexpected.

    June 9, 2010 04:30 pm at 4:30 pm |
  2. LacrosseMom (the real one)

    Thank God! I knew that some Evangelical leaders would support Social Justice for undocumented immigrants. You can't be a Christian ......... and hate.

    June 9, 2010 04:32 pm at 4:32 pm |
  3. JES

    Let them come in the front door like everyone before them.

    We have laws now just enforce them and we wouldn't have so many problems with freeloaders.

    June 9, 2010 04:39 pm at 4:39 pm |
  4. Jebediah

    Amen, brothers and sisters!!!

    June 9, 2010 04:41 pm at 4:41 pm |
  5. rachel

    Why don't they take the legal path to citizenship like many other people who come here. Why do some people bypass the law. There is visa's for people going to school, visas for people to work, asylum etc. All sorts of ways for people to be here legal besides saying the heck with the law.

    June 9, 2010 04:42 pm at 4:42 pm |
  6. Dano

    Hmmmmmm I wonder how they feel about illegal immigrants who are also homosexual?

    June 9, 2010 04:48 pm at 4:48 pm |
  7. LacrosseMom (the real one)

    Thank God that some of the Evangelical leaders are on the side of Social Justice.

    June 9, 2010 04:50 pm at 4:50 pm |
  8. Mark from Louisiana

    We have a path to citizenship already, it doesn't start with sneaking into our country, those who have done that must leave and get in the back of the line. Nothing else will work.

    June 9, 2010 04:53 pm at 4:53 pm |
  9. Obozo's Record Deficit + Higher Taxes

    OK, so now that it's OK to be illegal, I think I will stop following the law and NOT pay my taxes.

    It's Illegal, but that's oki.

    June 9, 2010 04:56 pm at 4:56 pm |
  10. Mikey

    Nice to see some real Christian values. Please keep in mind that a path to "legal status" does not necessarily mean citizenship. For families that have been here a long time and have deep ties, citizenship may be appropriate. However, the majority of illegal residents could form the core of a substantial guest worker program, that could change in size based on the needs of our employment market. This must be done in concert with better border security, harsher employer penalties (and better ways to detect illegal employment), and probably a tamper proof (?) national ID card required for employment, driving privileges, public assistance, and voting privaleges.

    June 9, 2010 04:56 pm at 4:56 pm |
  11. Tulsa

    What? Reason from the Evangelicals?

    Bout dang time. Now, what about common sense approaches to abortion, war, environment, etc.?

    June 9, 2010 04:57 pm at 4:57 pm |
  12. Steph

    Thank you conservative Christian leaders, Speaker Pelosi and Ms. Jarrett for showing the rest of us how to work together on important issues.

    June 9, 2010 05:05 pm at 5:05 pm |
  13. Hows that oil slick coming along Rush?

    Many now live next door to us and have mortgages and car payments.Thats why the republicans wanted to sit on their hands all those years while they loved they money they were spending here.Now they want to complain and get rid of them on someone elses watch.Typical rightwing scumbags,its too late now and will sink the economy and they know it,but the blame can be passed on to Democrats.

    June 9, 2010 05:07 pm at 5:07 pm |
  14. sonny chapman

    The Father in Heaven is smiling.

    June 9, 2010 05:25 pm at 5:25 pm |
  15. Rick McDaniel

    Nope. No amnesty for the illegals already here.

    That simply is not acceptable to the citizens of this country.

    June 9, 2010 05:27 pm at 5:27 pm |
  16. wetone

    Send em back across the border and listen to calderone gripe about that.

    June 9, 2010 05:30 pm at 5:30 pm |
  17. Greg in Cabot, AR

    I think they realized that if the illegal’s were all deported, they might have to start cleaning their own house, mowing their own lawn and start paying a "living wage" to dish washers, cooks and all the other people that have been listed as "private contractors" by small businesses that have been "skirting" the tax with-holding tax laws.

    June 9, 2010 05:32 pm at 5:32 pm |
  18. Taxes

    Take a look at how much money we spend on these criminals each year. If they are in this country illegally they need to be deported and go through the proper channels to become a citizen. Thats the law. Thats what wrong with this country today, everyones worried about being politically correct. maybe we should give california to mexico and they all can congregate there. Arizona is right to uphold the law.

    June 9, 2010 05:35 pm at 5:35 pm |
  19. Claudia, Houston, Tx

    I little bit more praying and a lot less hating would serve all us well.

    June 9, 2010 05:41 pm at 5:41 pm |
  20. floridian

    We certainly need to have compassion for all people and as a very religious person I feel sorry for those illegals who are trying to make a better life for themselves and their families. However, I do not believe that Abraham, Joshua, Jesus, and any one else these evangelicals want to quote from the bible would accept breaking the law. What about some of the Ten Commandments? Aren't they applicable to these illegals? What about those illegals who are breaking the laws with respect to drugs, murder, stealing, and the like? And, as others have commented on, there is a process toward citizenship that is reflected in our laws. Are we going to give those "waiting in line" citizenship at the same time?

    June 9, 2010 05:42 pm at 5:42 pm |
  21. chris

    Prior to 9/11 that were two groups of conservative christians – evangelicals and fundamentalists. The fundamentalists were the fire and brimstone crowd – all about hate and fear. Then on 9/11 fundamentalist terrorists attacked us, so the fundamentalist christians starting calling themselves evangelicals too. It sounds like this group is made up of true evangelicals – following Christ's teachings and not using the Bible to justify their attacks and self righteousness the way the old fundamentalists do.

    I can't'stand it when people refer to the path to citizenship as "amnesty". Part of the path is that illegal immigrants have to pay a monetary fine for entering the country illegally. Paying a fine for breaking the law is used as a punishment all the time. Simply calling it "amnesty" does not make it truly amnesty.

    June 9, 2010 05:44 pm at 5:44 pm |

    Make them legal so you can tax them..........If Comprehensive immigration reform, passed in Washington......states like California would fair out very well, b/c they would get a new tax base.

    Revenue increases for the state and federal government would be one of the good things an Immigration bill could produce.

    June 9, 2010 05:47 pm at 5:47 pm |
  23. paul

    To all the right wing haters – OK, you go pick crops for $3 an hour. After we kick them all out – you'll whine about the price of food going up.

    June 9, 2010 05:49 pm at 5:49 pm |
  24. Charlotte

    Just maybe if the gov't hadn't made it so bloody hard to get a visa or work permit, people who are starving thanks to NAFTA wouldh't have felt so desperate that they had to sneak into the country to support their families, because they wouldn't be waiting for five years just to be able to buy a taco. I do not believe any undocumented immigrants should be handed a path to citizenship, but if we can get our national panties unwadded and recognize that the best solution is one that is good for our own economy and workforce, maybe they can be offered a chance to get guest papers....but MUST go home and start from scratch if it's citizenship they want. At the same time, better border enforcement AND a smoother process for those who do come in legally and later apply to become citizens. Many of the current undocumented people don't want citizenship, they just don't want to be hauled off by those whackjobs in Arizona (whose lawns they mow and pools they clean).

    June 9, 2010 05:49 pm at 5:49 pm |
  25. usualone

    When people get to know others, whom they tend to dislike without knowing these people, they find out that those they are opposed to are a-okay. That is what happened with these ministers.

    June 9, 2010 05:55 pm at 5:55 pm |
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