May 12, 2011
Obama Calls Immigration Reform a 'Moral Imperative' at National Hispanic Prayer Breakfast
President Obama continued his call for immigration reform at the National Hispanic Prayer Breakfast this morning, a similar call he made two years ago at the same breakfast.
Obama highlighted the work of faith leaders, including the National Association of Evangelicals (NAE), on immigration.
That sense of connection, that sense of empathy, that moral compass, that conviction of what is right is what led the National Association of Evangelicals to shoot short films to help people grasp the challenges facing immigrants. It’s what led the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops to launch a Justice for Immigrants campaign, and the Interfaith Immigration Coalition to advocate across religious lines. It’s what led all the Latino pastors at the Hispanic Prayer Breakfast to come together around reform.
Obama was likely referring to undocumented.tv, videos produced by World Relief, the relief and humanitarian arm of the NAE. He argued that immigration is not only an economic or security imperative.
It’s a moral imperative when kids are being denied the chance to go to college or serve their military because of the actions of their parents. It’s a moral imperative when millions of people live in the shadows and are made vulnerable to unscrupulous businesses or with nowhere to turn if they are wronged. It’s a moral imperative when simply enforcing the law may mean inflicting pain on families who are just trying to do the right thing by their children.
So, yes, immigration reform is a moral imperative, and so it’s worth seeking greater understanding from our faith. As it is written in the Book of Deuteronomy, “Love ye therefore the stranger: for ye were strangers in the land of Egypt.” To me, that verse is a call to show empathy to our brothers and our sisters; to try and recognize ourselves in one another.
The Rev. Luis Cortes, Jr., president of Esperanza, the organization sponsoring the event, gave him a Bible before Obama's speech.
"I was told this will help improve my Spanish," Obama said to laughter. "And I said, 'I’ll pray on it.'"