I wrote this letter to the editors of my local paper today. I hope they post excerpts of it soon:
August 29, 2013
Recently our Representative, Mrs. Susan Brooks, visited our area and several others in Indiana for town-hall-meeting-style forums. I’m grateful for her attentiveness to the voice of those in our community and for her leadership on behalf of Hoosiers. An item of responsibility for her in this season is the immigration conversation we Americans are engaged in, and that is the subject of this letter.
The Chronicle Tribune reprinted, on August 28, an article from Ruben Navarrette Jr. with the title “Selective Outrage on Immigration.” Navarrette is accurate in pointing out that immigration is not a “Republican or Democrat” concern, saying: “the Obama administration is on track to deport nearly 2 million people, and break up thousands of families, by the end of 2013.” He is quite crystal clear in also saying that “immigration law is based on civil and not criminal infractions, thus those who violate it can’t be called criminals.” We should not lionize one party or villainize one another in this conversation. Instead, we can merely admit our current system is broken, and work to reform it in a just, secure, and humane way.
Some Representatives like Brooks are receiving harsh feedback on the subject of immigration. Navarette complains that Republicans are being “criticized by media outlets, liberal blogs and advocacy groups as being cold and heartless.” While I agree that some of this criticism is mishandled and comes from suspect motives, we must remind ourselves the fact that many conservative Evangelical leaders like myself are working hard on this matter, and from anything but liberal motives.
On this very day I am with 40 denominational officials who, like me, collectively represent far more than 10 million members. We are meeting in Chicago to discuss how our churches can better welcome and serve immigrants in our communities. Those of us sitting in this room represent more than 39,686 individual churches in America (at last count). Our houses of worship sit in real communities where the impact and friendship of our immigrant neighbors is felt. Our people are evangelicals who tend to be quite conservative politically, and are mostly Republican in their voting practices. In the midst of that reality, we continue to be united in our desire to reform our current immigration system, and to better welcome the strangers among us in our churches, communities, and nation.
Why? We have strong family-values, and are working on this because we believe in the God-given human dignity of every person and in family unity. We feel that the immigration process needs to reflect these beliefs. It is clear that House leaders know they can’t wait for a solution—most Representatives privately have a conviction that reform must happen, but the political landscape makes it difficult to find a way forward. As evangelical leaders we want members of Congress to know that they have our support in finding a way to move forward toward comprehensive reform.
Evangelicals like me want Representative Brooks to know that we would greatly support her courage in finding a way forward on immigration, because we speak for the immigrants among us, who are part of our neighborhoods and our churches. This is a complex issue and the rule of law must be upheld—but a comprehensive immigration reform bill from the House could achieve that value and remain a just, secure, and humane way.
Believing we can do it!
Rev. David Drury
Resident of Grant County
Chief of Staff,
The Wesleyan Church Headquarters (Indianapolis, Indiana)