By Elket Rodríguez
Dozens of Hispanic Christian leaders from multiple denominational and theological traditions have coalesced behind a document that calls on Congress to enact immigration reform based upon a shared set of principles.
Christian Churches Together, an ecumenical and racially diverse coalition of U.S. faith groups, drafted the statement, “Declaration of Values and Principles in Support of Immigration Reform.”
Leaders of Fellowship Southwest, the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship and the Convención Bautista Hispana de Texas (Hispanic Baptist Convention of Texas) joined many others in signing the statement, which recognizes the biblical mandate to love the stranger.
“Evangelical, Pentecostal and mainline Protestants disagree on many theological issues, but there is something on which we agree: Our country has a broken immigration system, and we are all responsible for the hopes and aspirations of the ‘least of these,’” CCT Director Carlos Malavé said. “Our fight for immigrants will continue until our laws reflect the principles of our faith. We call our political leaders to rise above our divided national discourse and do what is good and right. “
Hispanic Christian leaders are essential for immigration reform advocacy, since many of the people directly affected by immigration laws are Latinos, said Rubén Ortiz, CBF’s Latino ministries coordinator, who signed the document.
“We would never agree on doctrine,” Ortiz acknowledged. “But we will always agree when there is a need within the Latino community that can only be met with the values and teachings of Jesus. And immigration is among the main need of our communities.”
Unity of the Hispanic church is crucial to making any progress in transforming immigration laws, he noted, adding, “I know that the Hispanic church’s mission in the U.S. is stronger when we all work together.”
Jesse Rincones, executive director of the Convención Bautista Hispana de Texas and a pastor and attorney, knows the negative effects a broken immigration system can have in the lives of many migrants.
“Our country’s broken immigration system is the source of much pain,” Rincones said. “Unfortunately, those bearing the brunt of our broken immigration system are children, families and those fleeing some of the world’s worst circumstances.”
Even so, Rincones cited an opportunity for the church to witness its love for the stranger in these expressions of Christian unity for change. “May the Latino church be the shining example of what it means to love the stranger who sojourns with us and loving them as ourselves,” he said.
Elket Rodríguez is the immigrant and refugee advocacy and ministry specialist for Fellowship Southwest and the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship. This article was originally posted on the Fellowship Southwest blog.