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Leaders Chastise Congress; Call Arizona Law Symptom, Not a Solution
Washington, DC – A coalition of leading conservative Evangelical leaders is calling on Congress to fix the broken immigration system and blaming the Arizona anti-immigrant law on frustration stemming from the federal government’s inability to provide a lasting solution to immigration.
On a telephonic conference call yesterday also featuring Senator Chuck Schumer (D-NY), Evangelical leaders including Dr. Richard Land, president of the Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission of the Southern Baptist Convention; Rev. Leith Anderson, president of the National Association of Evangelicals; Rev. Samuel Rodriguez, president of the National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference; and Mat Staver, founder and chairman of Liberty Counsel and dean of Liberty University School of Law, called on Congress to fashion a bi-partisan reform of the immigration system.
According to Frank Sharry, Executive Director of America’s Voice, “We’re leaving Americans with a false choice – either embrace a law that’s against our national interests and traditions or do nothing on a pressing national problem that’s generating tremendous frustration. The public is looking for leaders to step up and solve this problem and the constitutional responsibility for doing so rests with Congress. Senate Democrats have stepped up with a serious and centrist comprehensive immigration reform plan. But so far, Senate Republicans, even those who have previously championed comprehensive immigration reform, have said no, even going so far as to threaten a filibuster should Democrats move forward. But as these faith leaders are making clear, Washington’s failure to act creates a vacuum that invites ugly measures such as the Arizona law.”
Many of the Evangelical speakers on yesterday’s call also signed onto an ad sponsored by the National Association of Evangelicals that is running in Roll Call today and calls for comprehensive immigration reform. Additionally, several of the speakers signed onto a statement issued from Liberty Council that sums up their consensus position on the Arizona law and the need for a comprehensive federal solution:
“The crisis the country is witnessing in Arizona over immigration is the result of a failed immigration policy at the federal level. Arizona lawmakers felt compelled to act because the federal government would not. We do not agree that the Arizona law was the wisest course of action because immigration is a federal and not a state responsibility. It is the federal government’s failure that has led to the current crisis. The Arizona law is a symptom and a cry for help…
…The time to forge a rational consensus is now. America is a country of immigrants, a melting pot of individuals from various ethnicities and cultures. It is based on the rich heritage of immigration on which this country was established, and, in accordance with a just immigration policy, this country will continue to thrive. America deserves a just immigration policy; one that begins with securing, not closing, our borders, one that provides a temporary guest-worker program, and one that offers a pathway for earned legal citizenship or temporary residency.”
While polling continues to show support for the Arizona law, these snapshots of public opinion have not captured the larger dynamic at play regarding immigration and public opinion. Americans are frustrated about continued inaction on immigration issues and support steps that represent doing something, even when that choice is an Arizona-like law. When given a wider array of options for how to best solve the problem of the broken immigration system, however, Americans continue to support comprehensive reform over enforcement-only alternatives. For example, the New York Times/CBS News poll shows Americans’ frustration with the immigration status quo – 44% said the immigration system needed to be completely rebuilt and 45% said it needed fundamental changes. Voters are so frustrated that half of those polled are sympathetic to the Arizona law. But underneath the headlines about Arizona, the poll demonstrates broad support for a path to legal status for the undocumented – a full 64% of respondents supported options to either allow the undocumented to “stay and apply for citizenship” (43%) or “stay as guest workers” (21%), while only 32% supported the enforcement-only option, “require to leave jobs and the U.S.”
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