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WASHINGTON (RNS) Christian leaders, including three members of President Obama’s faith advisory council, on Wednesday (June 10) pushed the president to make good on his promise of comprehensive immigration reform.
The Rev. Samuel Rodriguez, Noel Castellanos, the Rev. Vashti McKenzie and the Rev. Jim Wallis of the group Christians for Comprehensive Immigration Reform (CCIR) said immigration reform must have the same high-level priority as the government’s focus on banks, auto companies and healthcare.
“Whether we came to this country by choice, by chance, by capture, we have to proceed. This is the urgency of the now,” said McKenzie, a bishop in the African Methodist Episcopal Church.
Wallis, Castellanos and McKenzie all hold seats on the White House’s faith advisory council. Rodriguez is president of the National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference.
CCIR released a statement asking the president to back legislation that would reduce waiting times for immigrants separated from their families; to provide a process for foreign-born workers and their families already in the U.S. to earn citizenship; to expand legal avenues for workers and families to enter the U.S.; and to examine solutions to the root causes of migration.
Wallis, founder of the progressive evangelical group Sojourners, said immigration enforcement must comply with humanitarian values.
“Those principles will guide the process,” he said.
Wallis said he supported safe sanctuary of immigrants who use houses of worship as asylum from deportation, saying “the church has a history of not waiting for legislation.”
Castellanos, CEO of the Christian Community Development Association agreed that “Christians are going to do whatever it takes to help their neighbor. I think it pushes us to look at what our national laws are.”
By Lindsay Perna
Copyright 2009 Religion News Service. All rights reserved. No part of this transmission may be distributed or reproduced without written permission.

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