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Evangelical Groups Praise Obama's 'Compassionate' Immigration Move

( [email protected] ) Nov 21, 2014 06:57 PM EST

Immigration Reform
People rally in favor of comprehensive immigration reform while on Capitol Hill while in Washington last year. Reuters

Although many Republicans have blasted President Barack Obama for taking executive action on immigration reform, his efforts have been applauded by multiple Evangelical groups.

On Thursday, President Obama introduced his measures by saying "our immigration system is broken, and everybody knows it."

"Scripture tells us that we shall not oppress a stranger, for we know the heart of a stranger--we were strangers once, too," said the President, referencing the Old Testament laws found in Exodus 22:1 and 23:9 "My fellow Americans, we are and always will be a nation of immigrants. We were strangers once, too."

Under the new rules, which will effectively save an estimated 5 million immigrants from being deported, undocumented parents of children who are US citizens or legal residents will be able to apply for work permits lasting three years. In addition, a program that gives temporary legal status to people who arrived in the US as children will be extended, which could benefit as many as 300,000 more people.

The new reforms have by welcomed by many faith-based groups including the National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference (NHCLC), which represents more than 40,000 Latino evangelical churches in the US and has a total membership throughout the region of 100 million people.

"The President's forthcoming executive action, although not the preferable delivery mechanism, initiates a reconciliatory prescription necessary in addressing a defacto humanitarian crisis within our borders: millions of God's children created in his image living in the shadows," said NHCLC president Dr. Samuel Rodriguez.

"This merciful action takes place because for years our government, under the leadership of both parties, failed miserably as it pertains to immigration. For years, our elected officials sacrificed lives on the altar of political expediency. For years, rhetorical articulation fell short of redemptive action. For years, we as a nation stood by while families experienced separation, children suffered and national unity lay shattered."

He continued: "As an organization committed to both Christian compassion and the rule of law, we call upon Congress and President Obama to immediately work together in passing legislation that will permanently secure our borders, protect our values and facilitate a platform upon which once again we can shine as a 'city upon a hill'."

Mark Arabo, nationally recognized human rights activist and spokesperson for the Chaldean Catholic Community, says he is "relieved that reform comes to a system broken by partisan politics and ineffective rhetoric."

"Everyone is aware that our immigration system is fundamentally broken. We should not bound ourselves to the misguided notion that we are a country defined by red tape, bureaucracy, and partisan politics. We are a nation of hope, and of chance. The president reaffirmed this. This executive action has served to shine a light on the hidden pain of millions of families throughout the United States. Not just for Latinos, but for Chaldean Christians, and other minorities," said Arabo, who has made visits to Capitol Hill to push for reform.

"When I talked with the President I reiterated the fact that we are not talking about sparing criminals, we are talking about providing new hope to mothers, fathers, and children whose only crime was seeing the light that American has to offer. I am incredibly proud to see that our efforts have culminated in true reform. "

A recent LifeWay Research survey found that while 91 percent of evangelicals said the U.S. should be responsible for stopping illegal immigration, 77 percent agreed that "Christians have a responsibility to assist immigrants, even if they are in the country illegally."

Tags : immigration reform, Christians, executive order, Evangelical, Obama, illegal immigrants, President Obama