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The implementation of Alabama’s HB 56, the harshest anti-immigrant law in the nation, has touched off a humanitarian crisis felt throughout the state and across the nation. Families, paralyzed by fear and uncertainty, are fleeing the state in droves and children are afraid to go school or even leave their homes.
On a press call today, national Evangelical leaders returned from an emergency delegation to Alabama shared stories about the ongoing humanitarian crisis seen on the ground and expressed their support for families who are suffering as a result of the new law. During their trip, leaders met with affected communities and local pastors to gain a better understanding of the crisis and to discuss ways to engage the evangelical community in Christian responses to the law. For a recording of today’s call, please click here.
According to Rev. Samuel Rodriguez, President of the National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference: “How can a state with so many Christians endorse a law that is so anti-Christian? As a Christian and an American, I refuse to stay silent in the face of injustice, apathy and laws that run counter to the values that make our nation great. Our federal government has failed us as it pertains to immigration, but states such as Alabama should not resolve the issue via the conduit of extreme legislation that in the end is anti-American and definitely anti-Christian. I call upon the bible-believing community in Alabama to stand up for righteousness and justice in the name of Jesus.”
According to Dr. Carlos Campo, President of Regent University, “There are a lot of people who are afraid. There are churches that feel a moral responsibility to help the needy and are now wondering if giving help can put them in jeopardy. These are the ‘least and the last’ in our community that our God calls us to. They are the very people we are called to protect and serve and care for. I don’t believe the people in the state understood what the law stood for and now that it is being implemented, I believe many in the church-going community are appalled by what has come to pass. It is time for them to stop being silent.” Dr. Campo added, “We must say to the federal government that something must be done.”
Since the law went into effect, churches that serve immigrants have been overwhelmed in dealing with the fear and questions in the community, and families have been packing up and leaving the state. Speakers on today’s press call highlighted the fear and upheaval in Alabama and lifted up the larger moral burden this law has placed on the state and the federal government, which has failed to address the nation’s broken immigration system.
Similarly, Rev. Jim Tolle, Senior Pastor of Church on the Way, Los Angeles, CA said, “This law runs counter to Christian teaching. As a Republican and an Evangelical, I’ve come here to say to Alabamians that this law is misguided and is tearing families apart across the state.”
Rev. Danny DeLeon, Senior Pastor of Calvary Church in Santa Ana, CA, and Chairman of the National Hispanic Pentacostal Congress, said, “The leaders in Alabama have had the responsibility of being the custodians of the law, but did they stop at the car wash to see if everyone had a green card, or ask the people who tend their garden, and clean their houses for their papers? Now they are trying to implement this draconian law, but it’s a little late. The church in Alabama must rise up and be a united force to say, ‘let’s fix what’s broken.’ In the meantime, let’s take care of human beings that are hurting and are being devastated by this law. What truly concerns me as a pastor is the devastation of so many families. If anyone should come out to protect these families, it should be the churches.”
Rev. Noel Castellanos, President of the Christian Community Development Association, shared in a prepared statement, “I’m married to an Alabamian, which has brought me to the state for the last 27 years. During this time I’ve seen the Hispanic population in Alabama go from zero to the many thousands who are here today. As the Hispanic population grew, many of my friends and relatives here spoke very positively of their contributions both culturally and economically. Thus, it came as a great shock when I began to hear about the new immigration law and its impact on many of the families and children living in this community. As a Hispanic and more importantly, as a Christian, I feel compelled to speak out against the negative impact this law is having on our community.”