WASHINGTON (RNS) On the heels of a rally on the National Mall by immigration reform advocates, religious leaders met at the White House on Monday (March 22) to plot strategy despite a packed election-year political calendar.
The Rev. Samuel Rodriguez, president of the National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference, said Latino Christians are frustrated with the slow pace of change on immigration reform, along with growing numbers of deportations.
Still, Rodriguez said he hopes President Obama will use some of the same strategies he used with health care reform — including a national address — to also succeed on immigration reform.
“It’s time to get to work and see some outcomes,” Rodriguez said.
The Rev. Jim Wallis, president of the anti-poverty group Sojourners, said the faith community is ready to help Obama mobilize the grass roots.
“There has never been more unity on this issue in the faith community,” said Wallis, describing the commitment from the National Council of Churches, the National Association of Evangelicals, Catholic and Jewish leaders who participated in Monday’s meeting.
“This is not a Hispanic issue,” he said. “This is a faith issue.
This is a family issue.”
With the attention on health care in recent months and continuing focus on efforts to spur job creation, the leaders acknowledged the need for pragmatism by the White House. But they hope immigration reform can be addressed before the mid-term elections in November.
“Things happen in God’s time,” said the Rev. Peg Chemberlin, president of the National Council of Churches, as a loud thunderclap rang out above the White House.
“I think God’s time is about care for the neighbor, and it’s time for that.”
By Adelle M. Banks
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