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Evangelical Leaders: Supreme Court Immigration Decision Highlights Need for Federal Reform

June 25, 2012

Prominent Evangelicals Praise Arizona v. U.S. Supreme Court Decision, Maintain Racial Profiling Concerns

Ruling reinforces need for federal immigration reform that upholds faith values


Washington, D.C. — The Supreme Court, in a 5-3 decision, struck down three key parts of Arizona’s immigration enforcement law. The Court upheld the provision of the law requiring law enforcement officials to check the legal status of anyone of whom they have “reasonable suspicion” of unlawful presence, while keeping the door open to racial profiling challenges to the law.

The decision comes the same month that more than 150 evangelical leaders came together in an unprecedented manner to launch the Evangelical Immigration Table and call for immigration reform. The following signatories have released statements as individuals or organizations in reaction to the Supreme Court ruling. These statements represent the views and opinions of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the positions of other signatories.


Leith Anderson, President, National Association of Evangelicals
"America needs to change our immigration laws. On this just about everyone agrees. Common sense says that we can't change these outdated laws one state at a time for all fifty states. Today’s Supreme Court decision confirms that immigration is a federal responsibility. We've waited a long time for the Congress to get together and get this fixed. Now is the time for our national leaders to pass national immigration reform."

Noel Castellanos, CEO, Christian Community Development Association
"Today's Supreme Court ruling on Arizona's S.B. 1070 continues to reinforce the need for Congress to move on passing comprehensive immigration legislation as an urgent matter."

Jim Wallis, President and CEO, Sojourners
“Christians concerned about vulnerable immigrants have called laws like Arizona’s S.B. 1070 immoral, and now the Supreme Court has declared those laws unconstitutional. Our national immigration system is broken, and a patchwork of harsh state-level immigration laws isn’t the way to fix it. The decision to strike down key provisions of this legislation is a victory for everyone in the faith community who seeks to follow the Bible’s call for concern for the vulnerable and ‘stranger’ among us.”

Rev. Gabriel Salguero, President, National Latino Evangelical Coalition
"The Supreme Court has made it clear that we need comprehensive immigration laws at the federal level. Immigration is a federal responsibility. We do not need piecemeal state legislation but one national law. Republicans and Democrats need to roll up their sleeves and act. Moreover, we are hopeful that all laws will respect human dignity and not lead to racial profiling. As Christians, we pray for laws that respect the rule of law and justly integrate all immigrants."

Rev. Samuel Rodriguez, President, National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference
“By striking down the major provisions of S.B. 1070, the Supreme Court of the United States affirmed the values that make this nation great and in essence initiated the process of establishing a legal firewall against draconian measures as they pertain to immigration. The question at hand is whether the state has the right to violate the civil and human rights of individuals under the guise of "the rule of law." Arizona's measure and other attempts to usurp fundamental human rights required our highest court to intervene.

"Although a provision regarding proof of citizenship still stands in question, the court's decision conveys a clear message that 21st century jurisprudence will not tolerate measures that polarize and segregate our communities. Now is the time for our federally elected officials to rise up with the moral fortitude to pass comprehensive immigration reform. It's time for Republicans and Democrats alike to come together and declare that this generation will not tolerate any legislative measure that tears us apart rather than brings us together. For at the end of the day, the gospel of Matthew states it best: Blessed are those that hunger and thirst for justice, for they shall be filled. Today's decision began to quench the thirst.”

Mat Staver, Founder and Chairman, Liberty Counsel
“Arizona took action on immigration because the federal government failed to. I agree that the federal government has jurisdiction over immigration. Without a uniform rule for immigration, America may have 50 different, chaotic standards. However, our politicians in Washington, D.C., must get beyond campaign rhetoric to a rational immigration policy that acknowledges that we are both a nation of immigrants and a nation of laws.”

Reverend Luis Cortés Jr., President, Esperanza
“This decision underscores what we as immigration reform advocates have been steadily repeating for many years: that the responsibility for fixing our immigration policies and enforcement falls squarely on the shoulders of the federal government. Now that the affirmation of federal responsibility has been so clearly stated by the highest court in our land, we must not allow the issue to stagnate once again; it’s time for Congress to get the job done. And, when the state of Arizona begins to carry out the provision of their law that was upheld, we’ll be watching very closely and standing ready to oppose any instances of racial profiling and civil rights abuse. This is not an unmitigated victory, not yet; it is only an arrow pointing the way forward. We thank the Supreme Court of the United States for helping us to frame the need for our next action steps.”

Stephan Bauman, President and CEO, World Relief
“Today’s Supreme Court decision highlights the need for Congress to act quickly on immigration reform. State-passed immigration bills like Arizona’s S.B. 1070 have made life difficult for immigrants on the ground and underscores the urgent need for a sensible, national immigration system.”

Robert Gittelson, Co-Founder, Conservatives for Comprehensive Immigration Reform
“The urgent need for a comprehensive immigration solution was affirmed by today’s Supreme Court ruling. Certainly, it is crystal clear that the reform of our federal immigration laws must now become a national priority. We cannot allow a system in which we have two classes of states — those that are welcoming to the immigrant, against those that are not. What was clear through today’s ruling was that the state laws that anti-immigration activists such as Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach and the Federation for American Immigration Reform had tried to enact in Arizona, as well as several other states including Alabama, will not become a model for our nation. What is evident from today’s decision is that we can and must, through legislation, pass a federal solution to the massive problem of our broken immigration system, and we must do it now.”

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