The faith community has a golden opportunity to rise above the controversies that divide us and embrace the family values that unite us. That opportunity is immigration reform.
As our representatives in Washington make an earnest effort to solve this dire problem, we the faithful have a role to play. This is, after all, about love of family and love of country.
While we cannot throw open the borders, we cannot send all those here illegally back where they came from. It’s not realistic, and it would devastate thousands of families.
No moral good is served by breaking apart families, often sending mothers and fathers thousands of miles from children and relatives, when their only crime is the pursuit of a better life for their loved ones.
But because we love our country and we place a high premium on American citizenship, we cannot and should not make it easy to stay here permanently.
Instead, real reform should require immigrants who want to stay to go through a rigorous process, including payment of back taxes and fines. They should be accountable for what they have done.
That is not a free pass. It is taking personal responsibility.
We in the faith community value the rule of law, and we know we must make our borders more secure. Because we love our country and value the right to be here, we must be more vigilant at the gates than we have been.
I am proud to stand with hundreds of thousands of the faithful who support immigration reform. The Evangelical Immigration Table, a coalition of more than 100,000 American churches, is working at the grassroots level to remind the faithful that fairness is fundamental to our faith.
This immigration reform legislation will make fairness a reality, and I urge U.S. Rep. Phil Roe to support it.
The religious community should exemplify the best in our community and our nation. For too long, there has been polarization around the role of the religious community in America. But issues like immigration reform show us that, though we may from time to time disagree, our common humanity unites us as a nation and a people.
Alejandro Vazquez is a senior ministry associate at First Christian Church of Johnson City.