Saturday, January 6, 2007

Christian Right to join immigration fray

One key political force that has long been silent on the issue of immigration reform is about to jump into the debate in a major way. According to a report from Pat Robinson's, Christian Broadcasting Network, a group of leading evangelical "movers and shakers" will announce Monday the formation of a new coalition to deal with the immigration issue. Called "Families First in Immigration,” the group has sent letters to both President Bush and Speaker Pelosi offering their services in helping to draft a plan for immigration reform that would lead to a " families first approach" to a "coherent immigration achievement."

What exactly is meant by a "families first approach" or a "coherent immigration achievement" is yet to be seen, but looking at views on immigration of the founding members of this group, it's safe to assume that the "families" that they will be concerned with won't have too many foreign sounding surnames.

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Evangelical Leaders Get Involved in Immigration Debate

A new immigration coalition is being formed that involves some prominent movers and shakers within the Evangelical community. It’s called "Families First in Immigration.”

For the most part, religious leaders have stayed away from this sensitive debate, but this new coalition will change that. It’s being put together by Manny Miranda who has been a grassroots leader in the area of judicial nominations. This new coalition will bring together people like Paul Weyrich, head of Coalitions for America, Dr. Donald Wildmon from American Family Association, Gary Bauer of American Values, David Keene with the American Conservative Union, and dozens of other big names.

The goal here is to somehow come up with a plan for immigration reform and to that end, recast the debate and start anew. The group has sent a letter to President Bush and Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi.

Here’s a portion:

“We believe that if we can leave the confines of this past year’s debate, we can help you formulate and win wide support for a coherent immigration achievement. We stand ready to work with you to find a new families first approach at the earliest convenience of your staff.”

Manny Miranda told CBN: “Until now, religious leaders have been criticized for staying uninvolved in the immigration debate…This coalition gets them involved, they offer to come to the table and offer ideas they can eventually support. Previously, the White House did not invite their participation, and they did not offer their help. With certain results, a wider participation may get the President wider support to allow Republicans and Democrats to obtain a coherent reform. This new coalition is bigger and broader than the Secure Border Coalition that dominated the debate on the right in the last go round.”


Up until this point, a wide spectrum of people from the religious community have been actively involved in the immigration issue. For the most part they have based their participation in the debate on the principals and moral tenants of their faiths that call for compassion, equality and charity. The clergy and hierarchy of the Roman Catholic Church have long taken a strong stand on immigrant's rights and the need for comprehensive, humane reform, as have the leaders of many mainstream Protestant faiths. Jewish and Muslim leaders have been quick to recognize and speak out against a certain level of racial intolerance that at times creeps into the debate.

Yet noticeably absent from the debate until now has been the voice of one of the most politically powerful religious groups in the nation, the Christian Right. Where the vast majority of Evangelicals stand on immigration has not been addressed, but there is no question as to where the leaders of "Families First in Immigration" stand on the issue.

"I count myself among those who believe that we must first secure our borders and that we should make it uncomfortable for those here illegally to work or take advantage of the perks that go with being a U.S. citizen. I oppose nonresident tuition for their children and would change the law so that those born of illegals on U.S. soil wouldn’t automatically become eligible for citizenship. I support strong employer sanctions, and I oppose the sort of amnesty proposed by Sen John McCain (R-Ariz.)."…. David Keene

"We have millions of people who are standing in line to get into the US. They’re playing by the rules, they’re abiding by the law, & we allow countless people to butt into the front of the line, to pour across our borders & have as their first act as entering our country the violation of our laws. We must secure our border. Then we can make a judgment as a people what the appropriate legal immigration levels ought to be." … Gary Bauer

" We do not have a government tough enough to deal with these people. How many times have I heard, "You can't send them all back." Even the Pence-Hutchison Immigration Bill envisions securing the border before anything else is done. Under the terms of that bill no one who openly is breaking the law could continue to remain here. I have had it with these people. They get more arrogant by the hour. They also are an insult to the thousands of Hispanics who are here legally and who are given a bad name because of what illegal aliens do" … Paul Weyrich

"Targeting border security and employment enforcement, however, is only a first step to calm the mounting concern that Americans have over immigration… Americans are more genuinely concerned over assimilation than with the number of immigrants. And that concern cannot be dismissed as either racist or nativist. Providence and history have forged Americans into a unique people…. A truly comprehensive immigration reform will end in neither border fences nor guest workers. It will include legislation that reinforces education and the primacy of the English language in the public square"… Manuel Miranda

It appears that "Families First in Immigration" will be offering nothing new to the debate that has not been heard from the "enforcement only" crowd already. Rather than bringing a new perspective, based upon scripture and Christian moral tenants, they will be using their power of the pulpit to bring the same kind of zealous fervor to the immigration debate they have brought to debates about other issues such as gay rights and stem cell research.

The fact that Don Wildmon or Gary Bauer will now officially be in the Tom Tancredo-Pat Buchanan camp is not surprising. What is surprising is how long it took for them to decide to join the fray. Perhaps with their usual slate of social issues loosing pull at the polls, they figure it was time to latch onto the newest national wedge issue.

UPDATE: 1/8/07 1:09AM EST
From: The Washington Times

In letters sent today and obtained by The Washington Times, Families First on Immigration urges President Bush and leaders of the new Democratic Congress to adopt a grand compromise on the divisive issue that includes strong border security, an amnesty for illegals already here who are relatives of citizens and an end to birthright citizenship

At the heart of their position is a compromise that could give both sides of the immigration debate their "holy grail," as Mr. Miranda puts it, while also making a major, one-time concession that would eliminate one of the biggest magnets for illegal immigration.

Out of concern for keeping families together, the religious leaders propose granting citizenship to any illegal aliens in the country who are related to U.S. citizens. This would include anyone who has had a child born here, often referred to as an "anchor baby."

In return, the federal government would end birthright citizenship, which automatically grants U.S. citizenship to anyone born here, regardless of his parents' legal status. The 14th Amendment says "all persons born or naturalized in the United States ... are citizens of the United States."

"This is a real compromise," Mr. Miranda said. "On the one hand, there is legalization of a large number of people, but conservatives get the settlement of the thorniest issue for them in the immigration debate."

In letters today, the coalition implores President Bush and Democrats on Capitol Hill to search in earnest for a solution as soon as possible that deals with the estimated 12 million to 20 million illegals now in the country and ends future illegal migration.

"Illegal immigration is a human tragedy that disrupts lives and separates families," the group wrote in the letter to Mr. Bush that also scolds officials in Mexico for their responsibility. "It is a failure of two governments: the one that fails its people and the one that invites their departure for cheap labor's sake."

Specifically, Families First tells Mr. Bush -- who was supported by most of the members of the new coalition -- to abandon his proposal for a guest-worker program until the rest of the issues such as birthright citizenship and border security are resolved.


DeeDee said...

[sarcasm]Thanks a lot GOPers! [/sarcasm]

I'm being facetious. Instead of working on a fair immigration reform, you are basically handing the democrats more votes. Why? You ask?

Because your platforms are not consistent with the "religious right", you sound hypocritical and I'm putting out a "HELP WANTED" sign in the window that says: MORE Republicans are needed that do not sound hypocritical, and remember history lest we are doomed to repeat it.

We need to go back to the days of Abe Lincoln -- we need to go back to the virtues that created our Constitution -- and spreading freedom. ALL MEN ARE CREATED EQUAL. We need to believe that Capitalism makes the World a freer world. We need to not fear terrorists and become the neocons that we are and not succumb to terror. It's ok to fight back and defend ourselves. Democracy is the last hope!

Wake up my fellow Republicans and start acting like a true GOPer. Those of you who have not supported W Bush -- you need to reevaluate yourselves and consider going democrat. Democrats worry about global warming, protecting the shrubs, and ensuring that God is taken away from our Pledge of Allegiance and our schools.

Republicans need to remain steadfast in goodness and morals, protecting Religious Freedoms, and being good to fellow man. If we open our arms to help others, I am confident that the Creator will bless us and continue to bless us. You have a choice. Which is it going to be? To remain hypocritical when it comes to immigration? Or, are you going to continue to hand over more votes to the democrats because of your stubbornness?

Look at the GOP platforms vs. the Democrat platforms. Which is it going to be? Worrying about this or that? Or simply becoming the Good Samaritan? Yes, it's that simple. You decide which is more important to you -- whether it is ruling with the iron fist or being good to fellow man. Which is stronger? I believe being good to fellow man is the better path -- for the sake of our party to live on and strong.

Judge your hearts on this matter.


DeeDee Blase

janinsanfran said...

Noxious development to have the religious Right lining up for abolishing birthright citizenship. That one is pure racism, a means of trying to keep the country whiter.