Immigration Reform Gets Praise And Critique From Religious Leaders

Immigration activists hold hands in front of Freedom Tower in downtown Miami, Monday, Jan. 28, 2013. The Florida Immigrant Co
Immigration activists hold hands in front of Freedom Tower in downtown Miami, Monday, Jan. 28, 2013. The Florida Immigrant Coalition, together with other immigrant families and community organizations, have initiated the "Di Que Si!" campaign, which translates into English "I said yes!," demanding immigration reform that creates a system that keeps families united. Activists and immigrants also asked for the suspension of deportations as lawmakers work on immigration reform, and announced they will join a national mobilization in favor of immigration reform in Washington D.C. on April 10. (AP Photo/Alan Diaz)

After a bipartisan group of senators announced a plan on Monday to pass comprehensive immigration reform that includes a pathway to citizenship for 11 million undocumented immigrants, the praise and critique continues to pour in. That includes the voices of clergy, some of whom have been quite active in making their voices heard when it comes to the nation's immigration policies.

Here are a few reactions from members of Evangelical Leadership Table, a coalition of conservative and liberal religious leaders that has been pushing for immigration reform:

Leith Anderson, President, National Association of Evangelicals:

Now is the time for immigration reform. We've settled too long for a broken system, and now the nation is ready for changes that are just, reasonable and compassionate. Let's make immigration the issue where our political parties can come together and do what is right.

Rev. Samuel Rodriguez, President, National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference:

The National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference commends and applauds the principals proposed by United States Senators committed to finding a solution to the immigration crisis. As a member of the Evangelical Immigration Table, the NHCLC stands committed to an outcome that reconciles conviction with compassion, security with integration, all while recognizing the image of God in citizen and immigrant alike. Accordingly, while we continue to engage in prophetic activism, we also continue in our 'I Was a Stranger' prayer challenge. For we understand that prayer and activism result in one thing: justice in the name of Jesus!

Rev. Gabriel Salguero, President, National Latino Evangelical Coalition:

The National Latino Evangelical Coalition (NaLEC) and its 3,000 congregations are hopeful that the principles for immigration reform laid out in a bipartisan manner provides real hope to the 11 million women, children and men who remain undocumented. This legislation is an honest compromise that can move the nation forward in healthy ways.

While also commending the proposal, the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops wasn't completely happy with it. Archbishop José H. Gomez of Los Angeles, chairman of the group's committee on migration, called Monday's announcement an "an important first step."

"It is vital that the framework includes a path to citizenship, so that undocumented immigrants can come out of the shadows and into the light and have a chance to become Americans," said Gomez. "It gives hope to millions of our fellow human beings."

But the according to a statement, Gomez and the bishops conference believe the framework "fails to restore due process protections to immigrants lost in the 1996 Illegal Immigration Reform and Immigrant Responsibility Act (IIRIRA) or address the root causes of migration, such as the absence of living-wage employment in sending communities or protection for refugees fleeing persecution."

When President Barack Obama visits Las Vegas in his first official trip of his second term on Tuesday to speak about issues including immigration and gun violence, members of PICO, a national faith-based grassroots network, plan to be on-hand in the city.

"As people of faith we believe the only solution to our harmful immigration policy that recognizes the inherent dignity and rights of all human persons is full citizenship for the 11 million aspiring Americans who work in our communities, raise their children alongside ours and worship with us," said the Rev. Richard Smith, who is traveling to Las Vegas and is the pastor of the Episcopal Church of St. John the Evangelist in San Francisco. "Now that President Obama has made a new immigration process his top priority, people of faith demand citizenship for American families. We will be here watching and praying as this legislation goes forward ensuring our political leaders know that citizenship is the only solution Americans will accept."