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Mark Kadel: Immigration reform a moral, national duty

Mark Kadel

So far, 2014 has brought nothing but positive movement on the immigration front. The release of Republican standards on immigration reform will be crucial to propelling this momentum forward, and we support this process.

Our current immigration system is broken. The release of these principles will show that Republicans recognize this too and are serious about passing reform in 2014.

The conservative principles, coupled with the president’s State of the Union address and the Republican response, highlight immigration’s continued prevalence in the 2014 congressional agenda.

I and other Spokane pastors – Doug Wagley at New Vision Lutheran, Daniel Bonney at Opportunity Christian Fellowship, Nick Block at Spokane Friends Church, Eric Blauer at Jacob’s Well Church, James Leman at First Free Methodist Church and Rod Cosgrove at Garland Church – are excited and privileged that Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers, a supporter of immigration reform, gave the Republican rebuttal to the State of the Union, and we can expect positive bipartisan agreement on the need to act.

Our legislators are showing that the need for common-sense reform transcends politics.

Republican leaders in Congress clearly agree that further securing our borders and giving aspiring Americans the opportunity to earn legal status is a priority.

And they have the support of their constituents across the country as well.

Not only do our members of Congress have the support of evangelical leaders back home, but also law enforcement and business leaders. From farms to corner offices to church pews, leaders nationwide are calling for congressional action on immigration reform.

As evangelical leaders here in Eastern Washington, we know firsthand the critical importance of passing common-sense immigration reform this year.

Here in our community, World Relief resettles up to 600 refugees each year and assists many more immigrants as they legally adjust their status. We have seen the unjust consequences that an outdated, unworkable immigration system has on families and individuals who want to process their cases through the myriad of forms and procedures.

Each day that passes without fixing our broken system comes with tragic human cost and missed opportunities for all Americans.

Our faith calls on us to welcome the stranger among us. Throughout the Bible, God’s concern for the immigrant is clear; how we treat the stranger in our midst is how we treat Jesus himself.

We have a moral obligation to address the needs and circumstances of immigrants in our country, but our current system forces our hardworking neighbors to live in the shadows, and it tears families apart. It also keeps immigrants vulnerable to human trafficking. In fact, we’ve seen many cases in which undocumented immigrants have been victims of labor trafficking in the U.S.

That’s not who we are. Aspiring Americans are part of our communities and deserve to be treated with dignity.

As evangelical Christians, we also recognize that the Bible teaches us to honor the rule of law. We are a nation of laws, and laws must be respected.

But our current system is already so broken that it fails in this respect, too. We need a new immigration process that restores honor to the rule of law by helping our neighbors emerge from the shadows, further enhancing border security and strengthening legal immigration.

Broad, bipartisan reform would allow us to restore the rule of law as well as care for our immigrant neighbors.

Inaction is not an option. And 2014 stands to be the year that carries reform over the finish line.

The support across political, geographic and vocational lines is unprecedented. Leaders on both sides of the aisle are willing to rise above partisan politics and take action.

It’s clear that House leaders know they can’t wait for a solution, and as evangelical leaders we want Congresswoman McMorris Rodgers and her colleagues in Congress to know they have our support.

Mark Kadel is the director of World Relief Spokane.
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