March 26, 2007

CONLAMIC Supports the STRIVE Act for 2007

Hispanic Pastors Support Congressmen Gutierrez and Flake Efforts

Washington, DC – Latino Pastors, members of the National Coalition of Latino Clergy & Christian Leaders (CONLAMIC) traveled to Washington, DC last week to meet with Congressman Gutierrez (D-IL) for a briefing as he and Congressman Jeff Flake (R-AZ) were preparing to introduce the major immigration reform bill they authored called the "Security Through Regularized Immigration and a Vibrant Economy Act of 2007" (STRIVE Act of 2007).

"The STRIVE Act comprehensively addresses the critical problems with our current immigration system," said Reverend Miguel Rivera, President of CONLAMIC. "We applaud Congressmen Gutierrez and Flake for creating a bill that includes all the essential items needed for meaningful reform."

The night before the STRIVE Act was introduced in Congress; CONLAMIC sponsored a prayer rally for hundreds of people at the steps of the U.S. Capitol. Leaders, including Congressman Gutierrez and Reverend Miguel Rivera, President of CONLAMIC spoke before the rally as participants prayed for legislators to bring resolve to the issue in the form of a compassionate yet effective immigration reform bill. On Thursday, moments after introducing the STRIVE Act, Congressman Gutierrez walked into the CONLAMIC meeting to brief the Pastors on the issue.

"It was a good day," said Congressman Luis Gutierrez with a big smile as he moved through the crowded room of leaders and sat before them looking energized as he spoke enthusiastically about the bill.

With a unanimous vote from the National Delegates representing 32 States and the Board of Directors, CONLAMIC sent a strong message of support on behalf of its 16,000 affiliated Latino evangelical churches. National leaders from the Hispanic Baptist Convention, the Assemblies of God, the Church of God, Pentecostal Church of God of Puerto Rico and non-denominational Latino churches affiliated with CONLAMIC, were on hand as the legislation was being introduced in the House of Representatives.

"CONLAMIC's Capitol Hill briefing in Washington, DC could not have happened at a more historic time for immigration reform," said Dr. David Guel, President of Concerned Hispanic Evangelicals and CONLAMIC's Executive Vice President. "We are so glad that the debate has finally begun. It is imperative that a CIR be enacted as soon as humanly possible," Guel affirmed.

"Congress must engage in this issue now. The Strive Act is a bipartisan effort that provides Congress with the opportunity to resolve the critical labor shortage and deportations that tear apart the hardworking immigrant families," said Rev. Luis Lopez, Assemblies of God Leader and member of CONLAMIC's Executive Committee.

Washington's political culture has already begun to react. Rigid criticism is being levied again several components of the bill. For example, (1) Against the idea of offering any kind of path toward citizenship to the undocumented already in our country; (2) The AFL-CIO is adamantly voicing opposition against a guest worker permit claiming that Americans will lose jobs. However, the support this bill has poured in from Business, Agriculture, and Latino advocates.

"The STRIVE Act of 2007 addresses all the major issues of concerns including strengthening border security, bolstering employment verification, year-round temporary worker program and earned adjustment to the status of the more than 12 undocumented immigrants," said Rev. Ephraim Rivera, Church of God Leader and Executive Committee member of CONLAMIC.

"Not even the 'touch-back' issue will stop us from supporting this legislation because of the comprehensive value the whole package brings to the issue of immigration reform," said Rev. Rivera. "We urge Congress to allow this bill to be debated fairly on its merit in true expression of democracy, right now, at a time when legislators should be feeling the weight of the responsibility to cease the dysfunction of the current immigration system that is hurting our nation."

Reverend Miguel Rivera, President of CONLAMIC will attend a press conference on Thursday at the U.S. Capitol to show support for the STRIVE Act of 2007 and to thank Congressmen Gutierrez and Flake on behalf of more than one million members for their leadership in addressing the long standing problem of immigration reform.

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