U.S. Sen. John McCain (R-AZ), Sen. Charles Schumer (D-NY), Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL), Sen. Robert Menendez (D-NJ), and Senate Majority Whip Sen. Richard Durbin (D-IL) listen during a news conference on a comprehensive immigration reform framework January 28, 2013 on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC. (Alex Wong/Getty Images North America)
Evangelical Christian advocates for broad immigration reform have warmly welcomed a proposal offered by a bipartisan group of United States senators.
Republicans and four Democrats outlined Monday (Jan. 28) their plan for addressing what has been a hotly debated issue for years as an estimated 11 million illegal, or undocumented, immigrants have made their homes in this country. Congress has not made a serious attempt since 2007 to repair what seemingly everyone acknowledges as a broken immigration system.
In their written framework, the senators -- who include Democrat Charles Schumer of New York and Republican Marco Rubio of Florida -- said they intend to pass a permanent solution that commits the "resources needed to secure the border, modernize and streamline our current legal immigration system, while creating a tough but fair legalization program for individuals who are currently here."
Southern Baptist ethicist Richard Land said he was "very encouraged" by the bipartisan framework.
"Congress does not often exceed my expectations," said Land, president of the Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission (ERLC). "But these principles, and this demonstration of bipartisanship by our leaders, certainly have."
President Obama, in a Tuesday (Jan. 29) speech from immigrant-rich Las Vegas, applauded the bipartisan effort, but said he will work to ensure comprehensive reform occurs without delay.
The senators' proposal outlines four legislative keystones:
-- "Create a tough but fair path to citizenship for unauthorized immigrants currently living in the United States that is contingent upon securing our borders and tracking whether legal immigrants have left the country when required;
-- "Reform our legal immigration system to better recognize the importance of characteristics that will help build the American economy and strengthen American families;
-- "Create an effective employment verification system that will prevent identity theft and end the hiring of future unauthorized workers; and,
-- "Establish an improved process for admitting future workers to serve our nation's workforce needs, while simultaneously protecting all workers."
Land told Baptist Press the framework is "gratifyingly and remarkably similar to what I and the Evangelical Immigration Table and others have been calling for."
"This provides the parameters that many of us have been working for for some time and shows that there is a critical mass of Republicans and Democrats who are ready to make the compromises necessary to provide a comprehensive immigration reform policy that the American people will support," Land said.
Other members of the Evangelical Immigration Table, a coalition of Christian leaders, also applauded the senators' proposal.
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SOURCE: Baptist Press
Tom Strode and Diana Chandler