National Immigration Forum

Practical Solutions for Immigrants and America

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The Week Ahead March 25-29

March 25, 2013 - Posted by Dan Gordon

“The optics of immigration reform no longer includes deportation or just legalization, but rather, as this study demonstrates, Americans desire a full integrative solution that includes citizenship for those currently undocumented. At the end of the day this PRRI-Brookings study stands as an additional compelling impetus for Congress and the White House to act immediately. Now is the time!”
—Rev. Samuel Rodriguez, president of the National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference, March 22, 2013

Support for Reform in Full Swing as Congress Begins Recess
Members of Congress are home through April 5 for a two-week recess, and leaders from across the political spectrum are making sure their support for immigration reform is loud and clear.

The Bibles, Badges and Business for Immigration Reform (BBB) network is organizing a series of local events in key states, beginning with a discussion on immigration from a faith perspective yesterday in Fort Wayne, Ind. Events will peak next week and are planned in Colorado, Florida, Tennessee and several other states.

With Holy Week under way, evangelical leaders continue to raise a biblically inspired voice for reform as well. As the Evangelical Immigration Table's two-week radio ad campaign in South Carolina wraps up, evangelical leaders are meeting with Sen. Lindsey Graham on Tuesday. Participants include the speaker in the radio ad, Rev. Jim Goodroe, Director of Missions at the Spartanburg County Baptist Network. In addition, evangelical leaders are planning an April 17 Day of Prayer and Action on Capitol Hill.

CALENDAR: Please visit our Events page to find this week's immigration-related events.

Summary of immigration legislation introduced and government reports on immigration:

MUST READ: POLITICO: Evangelicals push immigration reform on the Hill
By: Kate Nocera
March 20, 2013 11:32 PM EDT
Evangelical leaders have swarmed Capitol Hill this year with phone calls and visits pushing comprehensive immigration reform. One evangelical group has even started airing TV ads on the issue.
The target is opponents of reform, primarily congressional Republicans, and conservative lawmakers say the outreach is having an impact.
A coalition of groups and pastors called the Evangelical Immigration Table is running ads in support of Sen. Lindsey Graham for his work on an immigration bill, which could be valuable to the South Carolina Republican as he runs for reelection next year.
“I come from a district — and from my own personal beliefs — where it matters to me what folks in the faith community think, and they are weighing in more than they did five years ago; I see it especially with Sen. Graham,” said Rep. Trey Gowdy (R-S.C.), who chairs the House Judiciary Subcommittee on Immigration and Border Security.
“There are groups running ads against Sen. Graham, so it’s nice there are some ads running to counter that,” Gowdy said.
Several conservative congressmen said they started noticing the evangelical efforts over a year ago, but as momentum in the House and Senate has picked up, the evangelicals have gone into overdrive. Groups and pastors are working in lawmakers’ districts, mobilizing churchgoers and encouraging politicians to meet with undocumented immigrants who are church members.
Rep. James Lankford (R-Okla.), himself a Christian, said that the goals of lawmakers and evangelical Christians are similar. They both wanted to find policies that would “make right” undocumented immigrants who have broken the law and find a way to normalize them into society.
“Quite frankly, from an evangelical perspective, reconciliation is a big deal,” Lankford said. “That is the core message of God reconciling us to himself, and we have a message of reconciliation to the world. [Immigrants] want the opportunity to be made right.”
Lankford says the outreach helps put a face to the problem.
“It doesn’t give politicians cover; it gives them relationships,” he said. “I think it’s a great opportunity for an evangelical group to come to a conservative lawmaker and say, ‘Let me introduce you to somebody undocumented who you may not know attends your church or a church like yours that we want you to meet.”
A key Republican congressman working on immigration, Idaho Rep. Raul Labrador, said the evangelical outreach serves a purpose.
Read more:

CHRISTIAN POST: Immigration Survey: 63 Percent of Americans Think Reform Should Include Pathway to Citizenship
By Melissa Barnhart , CP Contributor
March 22, 2013
One of the largest surveys on immigration ever conducted in the United States reveals that a majority of Americans support immigration reform that leads to a pathway to citizenship, but it also highlights that Americans are more concerned about jobs, reducing the budget deficit and changing the federal income tax system, according to a report released Thursday by the Public Religion Research Institute (PRRI) and the religion, policy and politics project at the Brookings Institution, a left-of-center think tank.
A panel discussion on the survey, Religion, Values and Immigration Survey Release: What Factors Influence Views on Immigration Policy? in which nearly 4,500 people were asked to share their opinions about immigration issues, reveals that 63 percent of respondents "agree that the immigration system should deal with immigrants who are currently living in the U.S. illegally by allowing them a way to become citizens." But it also shows that 56 percent of Americans believe that immigration has a negative impact on wages.
The survey was conducted by calling respondents on landlines and cellphones (1,800 were surveyed via cell phone), in English and Spanish, and includes a demographic breakdown of political affiliations, including the Tea Party, race, gender, religion, geographic location and age.
Survey outcomes examine how religion and values influence sentiment toward immigrant communities and perceptions of immigrants' impact on American culture, as well as opinions on current policies that are being debated in Congress.
Robert Jones, the CEO of PRRI and a leading scholar and commentator on religion, values and public life, said there are four points that stand out in the survey results: a positive sentiment toward immigrants among all demographics; concerns about wages for U.S. citizens; a large support for a path to citizenship for the immigrants who are already living in the U.S.; and broad value agreements on the details of immigration reform.
Jones also noted that respondents who self-identify with the Tea Party are divided on providing a path to citizenship for immigrants. Likewise, Republicans are divided on their opinions about the DREAM Act; and among respondents, there are "hidden concerns" about the white population becoming a minority in the country.
Regarding the political implications of the survey for the Republican Party, Melissa Michelson, a professor of political science and Menlo College, advises the party to change their stance on immigration policy, and move their agenda toward supporting the path to citizenship. "Republicans will have to do more than support comprehensive immigration reform," Michelson advised. "They have to show Hispanic families that they care about them. They cannot say that undocumented immigration is a problem."
Survey results show that: "Nearly half (45 percent) of Americans say the Republican Party's position on immigration has hurt the party in recent elections."
Michelson added that, according to the survey, the vast majority of Americans are unaware that deportations have increased under the Obama administration. "However, Hispanics know, yet Obama received a majority of their votes."
The survey results show that: "Although deportations of illegal immigrants have increased since the beginning of the Obama administration, less than 3-in-10 (28 percent) of Americans correctly state that depor¬tations have increased over the past five or six years. A plurality (42 percent) of Americans believe that the number of deportations has stayed the same, while nearly 1-in-5 (18 percent) say deportations have decreased."
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