In a move they called a first, Roman Catholic bishops and evangelical leaders joined together to pressure the House to pass immigration reform this year.
The religious leaders sent an open letter to House members Wednesday, saying “we can no longer delay fixing the (immigration) system.”
The letter carries names of 19 evangelical and Catholic leaders ranging from Leith Anderson, president of the National Association of Evangelicals to Archbishop of Miami Thomas Wenski.
“Even if we have different political sensibilities, we are united around this cause,” said Jim Wallis, president of Sojourners and a leader of the Evangelical Immigration Table.
Wenski, recalling that Pope Francis had discussed the globalization of indifference while visiting African migrants last summer, said the current immigration system "is a stain on the soul of our nation."
The letter is not only a show of unity, but also a show of faith, given that the GOP has all but closed the window on doing immigration reform this year.
Catholics have long been involved in immigration reform. However, support for it has become more urgent among evangelicals in recent years, Anderson said.
While some lawmakers don’t have to worry about Latino voters, they may have to answer to more evangelicals who consider immigration reform a moral and gospel issue and have a long history of going abroad to construct schools, orphanages and hospitals, Anderson said. Some could be due for surprises in November, he said.
First published February 26 2014, 1:12 PM
Suzanne Gamboa is a senior writer for NBCNews.com. She started in January 2014. Gamboa is responsible for editing, reporting and writing stories about Latinos and how the population's expansion is reshaping the U.S. Gamboa joined NBCNews.com from NBC Latino, where she was political editor, responsible for writing, editing and assigning political coverage.
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Prior to her role at NBC Latino, Gamboa had worked 13 years in the Washington, D.C. bureau of The Associated Press, where she covered politics, immigration and border and U.S.-Mexico issues, veterans, the Texas congressional delegation and most recently race and ethnicity, a beat she helped build. She also worked at the AP in Texas and at the Austin American-Statesman.
Gamboa lives in Washington, D.C.