Religious groups push for US immigration reform

- Posted in America by Visa Bureauon 13 June 2012

Leaders from the Focus on the Family, the Southern Baptist Convention and the National Latino Evangelical Association, among others, convened in Washington DC to speak with one voice about their commit to comprehensive US immigration reform which would provide a path for illegal immigrants to earn their citizenship.

The group, called the Evangelical Immigration Table, blames the current political tension within the American political system for the inability of the government to be able to do anything.

Jim Wallis, a member of the Evangelical Immigration Table, said the group was committed to ensuring the government recognised the 'moral and biblical imperative' of creating an immigration system which fellow member Tom Minnery said was centred in an 'atmosphere of human dignity'.

Reform of the immigration system is a precarious stance for American politicians recently, with the presidential election on the horizon and the controversial immigration law in Arizona making its way through the Supreme Court, members of both parties are attempting to promise change without wanting to appear soft on illegal immigration.

President Obama promised the reform as part of his 2008 election win but his failure to do so and the record levels of deportations during his first term have raised considerable doubts about his ability to fulfil his promises in a potential second term. The president is promising to resurrect the stalled DREAM plan which would offer a path to US citizenship for children of illegal immigrants who serve in the military or attend an American college.

President Obama's rival in November's election, Republican Mitt Romney has previously promised to veto the DREAM Act should he be president and has also described Arizona's tough law as a 'model for the nation'. However, he has softened his stance on immigration reform after securing the Republican nomination.

Several senators and a governor have also proposed original immigration laws while Senator Marco Rubio, one of the favourites for Mr Romney's vice-presidential nominee, has proposed his own, Republican alternative to the DREAM Act which would grant children of illegal immigrants who serve in the military a non-immigrant US visa.

The promises made by politicians from across the spectrum have frustrated many and the Evangelical Immigration Table is just one group of many. The Evangelical Immigration Table is not hopeful of securing the change they want and are aware that it is a long process but Mr Wallis hopes they will succeed eventually.

"Big things don't change in Washington first. Big things change last."

The American Visa Bureau is an independent migration consultancy specialising in helping people from Visa Waiver Program (VWP) countries make their ESTA application.