He described a woman he knows who came as a legal refugee from Africa with her son.
“When her son turns 18, he will no longer have legal status and will have to go back to Africa, where he does not know the language or have a job,” Mr. Anderson said. “She is overwhelmed by the quagmire of regulations. This is obviously not right.”
“Our churches and communities have been blessed by immigrants, many of whom bring strong faith, entrepreneurial energy and traditional family values that strengthen our future,” said Galen Carey, NAE director of government affairs. “At the same time, some of our communities have struggled to cope with the impact of unregulated immigration.”
The resolution recommends that immigration reform respect several fundamental principles:
• Immigrants should be treated with respect and mercy.
• National borders must be safeguarded with efficiency and respect for human dignity.
• Immigration laws should recognize the central importance of the family and provide for reduction in backlogs for family reunification.
• There should be a clear and workable system for legally admitting an adequate number of immigrants to meet both work-force and family-reunification needs.
• There must be a sound, equitable process for currently undocumented immigrants who wish to assume the responsibilities and privileges of citizenship to earn legal status.
• There should be fair labor and civil laws for all who reside in the United States, reflecting the best of our nation’s heritage.
• Immigration enforcement must recognize due process of law, the sanctity of the human person and the incomparable value of family.
“Legal immigrants have trouble bringing over their extended family,” Mr. Anderson told The Washington Times. “If it takes 10 years, their children can be grown up by the time they get here. I think an important piece of our reform is to expedite the documentation process to reunite families.”
As support for immigration accelerates within the evangelical movement, it may be slowed down by Congress. President Obama said at a summit in August that immigration reform must wait until 2010 as legislators focus on the health care debate.
Berton Wagonner, national director of Vineyard USA, said churches must continue to serve immigrants in the meantime.
“We must become prophetic moral voices,” Mr. Wagonner said. “We are advocates for the maginalized, and it is time to engage in acts of kindness to immigrants.”