The Common Good

Why Faith Groups Are Rallying Behind Immigration Reform

Date: November 13, 2013

As Rabbi Jason Kimelman-Block marched toward the U.S. Capitol Building on a cloudy afternoon this October, he said he felt “a little nervousness.” Walking arm-in-arm with dozens of other faith leaders and surrounded by thousands of chanting protestors—some holding signs that read “People of faith for immigrant justice!”—Kimelman-Block suddenly realized he might be arrested for the first time in his life.

A recent PRRI survey shows that now a majority (56 percent) of white evangelical Protestants support a path to citizenship for immigrants currently living in the United States illegally, provided they meet certain requirements. In 2012, a group of evangelical faith leaders founded the Evangelical Immigration Table (EIT) with the goal of pressuring Congress to pass a bipartisan solution for immigration reform. EIT is comprised of an unusually diverse coalition, including more conservative groups such as the National Association of Evangelicals as well as more progressive-leaning organizations like Sojourners. It also boasts support from prominent pastors from across the spectrum, including Jim Daly, head of Focus on the Family; Richard Land, former policy leader at the Southern Baptist Convention; and Samuel Rodriguez, president of the National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference.