The Evangelical Immigration Table, a coalition of several dozen religious organizations, will be airing a political ad in five cities over the next two weeks, including Colorado Springs. The ad is fairly innocuous, and says the country needs some kind of solution to the problem of illegal immigration.
“As evangelical leaders, we are called by Christ to be people of compassion, for everyone,” says a voice-over. “This is why we must speak out on behalf of all those affected by our broken immigration laws.”
The piece is vague, and doesn’t call for any specific policy, aside from protecting the borders, ensuring fairness to taxpayers, establishing a path to citizenship, and “reflect the God-given dignity of every person.”
But in a press release sent out Tuesday, the group applauded the recent announcement by President Barack Obama, when he said the federal government will stop deporting youngsters who were born here but aren’t citizens.
The Immigration Table members, according to the release, are “as evangelical leaders praise the Obama administration’s June 15 announcement that many young people who were brought to this country as children will be temporarily safe from deportation.”
Focus on the Family President and CEO Jim Daly, along with the Colorado Springs-based religious group The Navigators, are both part of the Immigration Table. But at least one of Focus’s leaders was not happy with the statement.
“We oppose that, what the president did last week,” said Tom Minnery, the head of Citizenlink, the political wing of Focus on the Family.
“Youth, people who have graduated from high school, but are here illegally, will be able to stay, and their parents will not,” said Minnery. “It’s a horrible breakup of the family.”
Minnery said he called the Immigration Table, and they agreed to remove the statement, but Minnery said the damage was already done.
What Daly had signed on to, Minnery said, was a set of the Table’s six core principles, which were all read off in the ad, including the God-given dignity tenet and the economic basis.
Will Stoller-Lee, the director of the Fuller Theological Seminary, led the press conference which announced the ad buy. He used the same vague terms as the ad, but in much stronger language. Stoller-Lee said evangelicals are “Biblically mandated” to create a better life for immigrants.
“These are our brothers and sisters in faith,” Stoller-Lee said. “We celebrate this announcement as a first step.”
Other speakers at the press conference said current immigration policy undermines the country and its culture.
“If we divide the family, we weaken the family. And we weaken the country,” said Danny Garrido, senior pastor at The Crossing Church.
The radio ad will run for one to two weeks in Colorado Springs, Denver, Orlando, Miami, and Jacksonville, FL.