ICYMI: Texas Immigration Summit, Compact Highlight Breadth of Support for Immigration Reform
February 22, 2013
WASHINGTON, D.C. — As bipartisan momentum for immigration reform builds in Congress, leaders across the country and the political spectrum are appealing for broad, commonsense reform this year. A shining example is Texas, whose representatives in Congress are no longer witnessing only silence on immigration reform from their constituents.
Since last week, bipartisan voices in Texas have emerged in force, seeking broad, commonsense immigration reform on the federal level. Moderate and conservative voices were prominent at both the Texas Immigration Summit in Austin and in the launch of the Texas Compact.
At the Feb. 13 summit a new network, Bibles, Badges and Business for Immigration Reform, joined the Texas Immigration Solution to emphasize the need for reform. (Watch newly posted video from the summit.) Faith, law enforcement and business leaders urged action now.
“For us, this is a sacred issue,” said Dr. David Fleming, Senior Pastor at Champion Forest Baptist Church in Houston. “God has an opinion on what we ought to do. We look into His word and we discover what His word says, and we just have a moral imperative to see this problem solved for the sake of the people who are caught in the system.”
“This has become a political debate instead of a good policy debate,” said Austin Police Chief Art Acevedo. “We need to focus on good policy, and if both parties do that, you can't really argue against comprehensive reform. [Then] we can get back to the business of fighting crime. There is no value in taking our very precious resources in law enforcement and try to get us to start chasing the nanny. That does absolutely nothing for public safety.”
“Texas should be the leader, and I would venture we are the leader in this debate,” said George Antuna, Co-founder of Hispanic Republicans of Texas. “We are No. 1 in terms of business growth in the country — one of the strongest reasons is the Hispanic community. We need a multifaceted immigration plan that includes border security and a guest worker program, and we are communicating these needs with our leaders.”
On Tuesday, a second group of faith, law enforcement and business leaders gathered to launch the Texas Compact, a declaration of principles to guide the immigration debate in Texas and urge immigration reform at the federal level. The principles include emphases on law enforcement, families, the economy and a free society. Initial signatories include Henry Cisneros, Chairman of CityView and Former Mayor of San Antonio.
“We are hoping that this Texas Compact, led by faith leaders, social service leaders, education leaders and business leaders, will give [Congress] the courage to take the correct action and move forward comprehensive immigration reform,” said Mike Nichols, Co-chair of the Texas Compact and Retired Senior Vice President of Administration and General Counsel, Sysco Corp.
“If we say we follow Christ, then we are commanded to love and welcome the stranger — immigrants. We must seek justice for them,” added Deborah Fikes, Executive Advisor to the World Evangelical Alliance and Board Member of the National Association of Evangelicals.
Texas leaders’ strong support for immigration reform now should serve as a wake-up call to legislators in Washington. As Mark Shurtleff, Member of the Board of Directors of the National Immigration Forum and Republican Former Attorney General of Utah, said upon the launch of the Texas Compact, “We’re building a tidal wave heading towards Washington, D.C., giving strength and support and guidance and direction, hopefully, to our members of Congress. … The timing is now for comprehensive, just, compassionate, commonsense immigration reform.”