Delegation of Evangelical Leaders Joins Alabama Faith Communities to Address Growing Concerns and Put an End to this Ongoing Injustice
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.
National Evangelical leaders convened in Alabama today as a part of an emergency delegation to shine a spotlight on the ongoing humanitarian crisis and to show their support for families that are suffering. The leaders met with affected communities and local pastors to gain a better understanding of the crisis on the ground and to discuss ways to engage the evangelical community about Christian responses to the law.
According to Rev. Samuel Rodriguez, President of the National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference, “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.” 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 at today’s press conference 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, “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? Now they are trying to implement the this draconian law, but it’s a little late. The church in Alabama must rise to be a united force to say, let’s fix what’s broken. But 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, stated, “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.”
Robert Gittelson, co-founder of Conservatives for Comprehensive Immigration Reform, summed it up by saying, “What’s happening here in Alabama is tragic, but it’s ultimately a symptom of the broken federal immigration system. Unfortunately, Sen. Jeff Sessions of Alabama has been one of the leading obstructionists in the effort to solve this problem at the national level. I came to Alabama to see with my own eyes what the situation is like here in Alabama and it is truly dire. This trip has reinforced that we have to come together on a national bi-partisan basis to solve this problem.”