Conservative Local Leaders in the South Stress Need for Productive Immigration Conversation

Digital and Design Associate

August 4, 2016

HOUSTON — With immigration remaining a subject for political point-scoring this election year, conservative faith, law enforcement and business leaders in the South remain focused on the need for a more productive conversation.

Their remarks are in keeping with a July Gallup poll in which more than three-quarters of Republican respondents favored the opportunity to earn citizenship for immigrants living in the U.S. illegally.

“Local business, law enforcement and faith leaders across the country are speaking out for the contributions of immigrants and the need for a better conversation around immigration,” said Ali Noorani, executive director of the National Immigration Forum. “We need to address our broken immigration system in a way that best serves our country’s communities, families and economy. Taking into account what local leaders have to say is the first step toward starting this dialogue.”

The following are quotes from local leaders in the region:

Norman E. Adams, Business Leader; Co-founder, Texans for Sensible Immigration Policy:
“I am a lifelong pro-life Republican. I am proud to be part of the so-called ‘Religious Right,’ because we are right! So where do I stand on immigration? I believe the conservative (Republican) solution to the undocumented immigrant problem is very simple. It recognizes the need for these workers, and appreciates their hard work and family values.

“However, it includes no shortcuts to citizenship. It requires a positive ID and criminal background check of every noncitizen, and grants a work visa that allows them to stay, but requires them to work only for employers that deduct and match taxes. It is firm, it is humane, and it is Biblical, ‘strangers in our land.’ A positive ID at the workplace will result in higher wages for American citizens.”

Dr. Bart Barber, Pastor, First Baptist Church of Farmersville, Texas:
“I’m in favor of any immigration policy we can support by telling God’s truth, promoting justice, and upholding the Constitution. Those are all conservative principles.

“The status quo is propped up by lies told about immigrants and about people who seek sensible immigration reform, is rife with the injustice of ignoring the law for some while strictly enforcing it for others, and at times involves rhetoric that undermines Constitutional principles such as religious liberty or the necessity of securing the border against invasion.

“That’s why conservatives committed to truth, justice, and the American way ought to enter a better conversation about how to reform our immigration law.”

Dr. Jeff Beshears, Calvary Baptist Church, Pocola, Arkansas:
“We live in a moving world. No longer are borders and faraway lands preventing the mass movements of people. This reality is becoming the new normal in our culture, and as a result, we need to take a proactive approach to discussing good outcomes for everyone.

“The dignity of human life should be valued and the extension of compassion should be one of our topics of conversation. Someone or some group will set the tone for the years ahead. The church should give its voice to the discussion.”

Dr. Page Brooks, Pastor, Canal Street Mosaic Church, New Orleans:
“Immigration reform is at the very heart of the message of Jesus. Why? Because Jesus taught that every person is made in the image of God and should be treated justly while given every opportunity to succeed in life. Since we are all created in the image of God, every person deserves dignity and respect to be shown to them.

“Conversation on immigration reform means creating just and fair pathways for immigrants to come to our country for opportunity while at the same time balancing national security interests that protect those opportunities for every person.”

Dr. Bob Pearle, Birchman Baptist Church, Fort Worth, Texas:
“Immigration is a hot topic in today’s climate. Politicians for the most part are ‘clouding the water’ on this issue. Yes, we are a country of immigrants, but a country of laws and legal immigrants as well. The two go hand in hand.

“All people looking for a better life and meeting the nation’s requirements should be welcomed in this great land. Honestly and orderliness are what is lacking in this conversation.”