On Monday, the Texas Catholic Conference, Texas Impact and the Baptist General Convention of Texas issued a statement calling for compassion and prudence in the state immigration debate. You can read the Interfaith Leaders' Statement here.
The full text of the press release is available below.
Read and sign on to Texas Impact's Texas Interfaith Sign-On Letter on Immigration Legislation in the 84th Texas Legislature at http://texasimpact.org/Immigration-Letter-2015.
Texas Faith Leaders Call for “Compassion and Prudence” in State Immigration Debate
AUSTIN—Leaders of Texas’ Christian denominations joined with Jewish and Muslim clergy in calling for compassion and mutual respect as lawmakers opened public testimony on a series of bills that would impose new state sanctions on undocumented persons, require proof of citizenship for an array of activities, and coerce municipalities to prioritize identification of possible undocumented immigrants over public safety.
The call comes as the Texas Senate Committee on Border Security launched public hearings on Senate Bill 185, which would coerce local police and sheriffs departments to enforce federal immigration laws at the expense of their regular policing operations.
United Methodist Bishop James Dorff of San Antonio said his denomination and other faith traditions oppose the legislation because it would undermine racial reconciliation and damage local communities. “We urge Texas legislators to reject policies that could encourage discrimination, co- opt local law enforcement, or scapegoat immigrants,” Dorff said.
Jeffery R. Patterson, PhD, executive director of the Texas Catholic Conference, said that while immigration reform is a federal issue, the rest of the country looks to Texas and Texas legislators for guidance given the integration of communities and issues along the 1,200-mile border between Texas and Mexico.
“There is no question our nation needs to reform our immigration system, given the families that are divided, the poor and vulnerable who are victimized, and the needless suffering that results. How Texas policymakers act to find a compassionate and balanced approach to reform will hopefully inform how Congress and the White House choose to do so,” Patterson said.
Gus Reyes, Director of the Texas Baptist Christian Life Commission, said the legislation under consideration could have unintended consequences for American citizens.
“Texas Legislators should be cautious when considering policies that could detract from safety and risk the inadvertent deprivation of the civil and constitutional rights of citizens and lawful permanent residents,” Reyes said.
Reverend Dr. Whitney Bodman, President of the Board of Texas Impact, said anti-immigrant sentiment reflects fear, and that lawmakers should lead Texas out of a paradigm of fear to one of respect.
“By affirming the dignity of every person, including those who migrate, lawmakers can help the people of Texas move from fear to respect. And only with respect can we work with all Americans to build a truly just national immigration system,” Bodman said.
Representatives of the Catholic bishops, the United Methodist bishops, the bishops of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America and the Christian Life Commission will continue to provide oral and written testimony before legislative committees on immigrations proposals.
Texas Catholic Conference is the public policy voice of the Catholic Bishops of Texas.
For more information visit www.TXcatholic.org
Texas Impact was established by Texas religious leaders in 1973 to be a voice in the Texas legislative process for the shared religious social concerns of Texas’ faith communities. Texas Impact is supported by more than two-dozen Christian, Jewish and Muslim denominational bodies, as well as hundreds of local congregations, ministerial alliances and interfaith networks, and thousands of people of faith throughout Texas.
For more information visit texasimpact.org
Since 1950, the Christian Life Commission (CLC) has served as the ethics agency of the Baptist General Convention of Texas. The CLC has the assignment of speaking to, but not for, churches and individuals about important ethical issues.
For more information visit texasbaptists.org
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