House Republicans recently released standards for immigration reform. Their statement came as a breath of fresh air in a long wait for change.
The standards align in many ways with what business and law enforcement leaders and people of faith have been advocating for — a broad plan that includes border security, reform of the visa system and a path to legalization for millions of people who have been working and living among us for decades.
My own evangelical Christian faith community has a set of principles (evangelicalimmigrationtable.com/#principles) for immigration reform that call for respecting the God-given dignity of all people, family unity, respect for the rule of law and fairness for all taxpayers. The principles also call for reform that creates the opportunity for those who qualify to earn legal status and/or citizenship. Most major evangelical leaders have endorsed these principles, have applauded the House Republican standards and were encouraged that the latter could push reform forward quickly.
And yet House Speaker John Boehner recently suggested that passing immigration reform this year would be difficult. This slowdown is particularly puzzling when leaders on both sides of the aisle have the support of a broad range of Americans to make reform happen.
The status quo is not working for us. Because of the widespread agreement on the major pieces needed in reform legislation, failure to act is unacceptable.
At this point, stalling is especially discouraging after a decade of disappointment and personal trials. Neighbors have been rightfully fearful: Some have been mistreated, wrongfully detained, deported or even have died as a result of our broken immigration system. Every day that lawmakers wait to craft reform is a day our neighbors continue to struggle and face uncertainty.
Those of us who take seriously the call to love our neighbor and care for the immigrant among us must stress the urgency for broad reform to move forward as soon as possible. Scripture not only tells us how to behave with one another; it tells us who God is. He is just and merciful. He hears the cries of the downtrodden. He responds to those who cry out to him.
This is what inspires me to continue pressing for immigration reform even when there are serious disappointments and delays. My hope is not in the wisdom of our lawmakers but in the goodness of God.
So, like the persistent widow in the New Testament, I will continue to knock on the door of heaven on behalf of my neighbors. I will call my representative again, as long as it takes.
Will you join me?
CHRISTINE BROOKS NOLF is the executive director and co-founder of Mika Community Development Corp. in Costa Mesa.