A new declaration on immigration already backed by hundreds of pastors who lead tens of thousands of people urges the government to secure the national borders as the first part of any reform strategy.

The petition, and an accompanying pastors’ declaration on border security and immigration, has been posted online at ImmigrationDeclaration.org.

“We, as pastoral leaders called by God to proclaim His truth and acting in the tradition of our nation’s history to lift our voice in the public square when there are those societal issues that demand just action by our governing representatives, do hereby present this statement of general principles and call on our elected state and national leaders,” the statement proclaims.

It calls on representatives to:

  • End the contentious political posturing and bickering polarizing the nation.

  • Engage in genuine dialogue and come together to arrive at real solutions to the crisis.
  • Listen to the voice of the majority of people who demand secure borders, credible enforcement of current immigration laws by the federal government, reforming the broken immigration system and humanely addressing those who have entered the country illegally.
  • Recognize and acknowledge that the crisis would already be resolved if past administrations and Congresses had exercised courageous leadership and had been willing to work together to take the necessary steps for resolution.
  • Pledge to resolve this crisis by taking courageous, decisive and immediate steps.

Pastor Dave Welch of the U.S. Pastor Council, who has been involved in the project, told WND the first goal is to raise awareness of the issue and commitment to a solution among pastors and the congregations they lead.

Then, he said, they need to “carry that voice very firmly to legislators and congressmen that we need action, effective and appropriate action, on these issues.”

He said the recommendations were written from a biblical perspective so that political agendas are not the focal point. Thus, he said, they could appeal to a wide range of Christian leaders, although not every one will agree with every statement.

Welch told WND the plan addresses the compassion needed to respond to the needs of illegal aliens already in the United States as well as the security and provisions in the current system that should be enforced to keep the situation from ballooning.

Illegal immigration is out of control, he said, citing gunshots that recently were reported hitting government buildings in southern Texas and a border gun battle just days ago that left 21 dead.

The declaration begins:

In the course of our history as a nation, challenges and crisis moments have arisen that required principled leadership and the laying aside of partisan politics. Such is the need before us in our day regarding the escalating illegal-immigration crisis and the security of our national borders.

It is clear and evident that the tangible and present crisis regarding the state of our national border security and immigration system must be addressed rapidly, justly and humanely with equal regard to both rule of law and God-given value of every individual. Holy Scriptures demand that justice and compassion be balanced with neither improperly dominant over the other in our hearts and our laws.

It seeks every state legislature as well as the U.S. Congress “to publicly support and provide proactive leadership to see this present crisis resolved in a human way that includes … the following steps in this order.”

First is to secure the national borders. Welch agreed that anyone in a sinking boat logically first would plug the leak then deal with the water inside.

“It is the first business of our government to protect the safety and welfare of citizens against ‘enemies foreign and domestic.’ The well-established fact that drug cartels, gang members, other criminal elements and now Middle Eastern operatives linked to Islamic terrorism are freely moving across our southern border has created an urgent national-security crisis,” the declaration’s first point states.

The solutions are not complicated: fences, armed forces, electronic surveillance and full enforcement of existing law, the plan suggests.

Second, the declaration calls for the reformation of the current immigration system to eliminate “red tape, fraud, delays, unacceptable costs, unrealistically low quotas and inhumane treatment.”

Besides better training and higher staffing for agencies dealing with immigration, “Congress needs to reform immigration laws to address significant backlogs under quotas for highly skilled immigrants; to establish meaningful quotas for semi- and low-skilled workers as well as enact a temporary-worker program so that, where there are proven shortages of U.S. workers, there is a mechanism by which workers can enter legally while maintaining their family ties to their home countries. Congress also needs to modernize the verification process by which employers determine who is authorized to work in the U.S.,” the plan said.

Third, there needs to be a “just process” for specified illegal aliens to reach a legal status.

“There needs to be a process of providing those who qualify, are involved in lawful commerce and wish to remain here a means of doing so either as guest workers or eventually as citizens, with the proviso that they be required to display proficiency in the English language and critical facts about our American history, the basis of our constitutional republic and the duties of citizenship within a reasonable period of time to qualify for either status,” the declaration said.

The organization explains its goal is “to offer what we believe to be a solid balance between justice (the rule of law) and compassion (treating all people with dignity and respect).”

“While we drafted and present this declaration first to our greater Houston area elected officials, then to the Texas legislative and congressional delegations, we offer this to all pastors in every city and state as a model to support local pastors in your efforts to bring this voice to your city and state,” according to the declaration.

The website has opportunities for pastors – as well as those who support their pastors – to sign in support of the declaration.

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