Obama pushes expedited timetable on immigration reform in meeting with faith leaders
March 8th, 2013
03:22 PM ET

Obama pushes expedited timetable on immigration reform in meeting with faith leaders

By Dan Merica, CNN
[twitter-follow screen_name='DanMericaCNN']

Washington (CNN) – President Barack Obama emphasized the need to get immigration reform accomplished this year in a meeting with a diverse group of faith leaders at the White House on Friday.

Religious leaders that attended the meeting said the president spent more than an hour with them, and after making a few remarks at the top of the meeting he let each group discuss their priorities and problems with comprehensive immigration reform. During the discussion, these faith leaders said, Obama made it clear that he wanted to see a bill on immigration reform in the next 60 days.

“I really sensed that this is a high priority for him,” Jim Wallis, president of Sojourners, a Christian social justice group, told CNN. “We are all looking at something being introduced this month and then the bill passing in May or June. We are all hoping that kind of time frame could work.”

Since winning reelection in 2012, the Obama administration has made it clear that immigration reform is a top priority for the president’s second term – and something they want to see quick action on. According to people who attended the meeting, in attendance, the president reiterated that support and laid out a timetable for the religious leaders.

Wallis, who has spearheaded a group of evangelical leaders on immigration reform, said that Obama particularly mentioned the importance of faith leaders in the immigration debate.

“He said that while every issue has politics, but on this question, it really was am moral issue to him and he sees the faith community as lifting that up,” Wallis said. “He was really fervent about the role of faith in this debate.”

“This was the broadest, most well-rounded group of folks that I have ever met with on this issue,” said Stephan Bauman, the president of World Relief. “And pretty much everyone in the room had a chance to share their opinion on the issue.”

In addition to Wallis and Bauman, both evangelical leaders, representatives from the Jewish, Muslim, Mormon and Catholic faiths were in attendance.

Bauman and Wallis said this was not only a religiously diverse group, but also politically diverse. The Christian leaders said that politically, the group represented both liberal and conservative political traditions. “This was not a bunch of left-leaning religious groups,” Wallis said.

A source who attended the meeting provided the full list of attendees to CNN:

Leith Anderson, National Association of Evangelicals
Stephan Bauman, President and CEO, World Relief
Bishop Minerva Carcaño, United Methodist Church
Rev. Luis Cortés, President, Esperanza
Barrett Duke, Southern Baptist Convention
Bishop Orlando Findlayter, Senior Pastor, New Hope Christian Fellowship
Archbishop José Horacio Gomez, Archdiocese of Los Angeles
Mark Hetfield, President and CEO, Hebrew Immigrant Aid Society
Rev. Kathryn Lohre, National Council of Churches
Imam Mohamed Magid, President, Islamic Society of North America
Rev. Samuel Rodriguez, President, National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference
Rev. Gabriel Salguero, President, National Latino Evangelical Coalition
Dieter Uchtdorf, Second Counselor, Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints
Jim Wallis, President and CEO, Sojourners
Cecilia Muñoz, Assistant to the President and Director of the Domestic Policy Council

In a statement about the meeting, the White House thanked the religious leaders for their attendance and said the group talked about how they could work to "swiftly pass... a commonsense immigration reform bill."

"The President and the leaders discussed the pillars the President has put forward for reform, including that any bill must include a pathway to earned citizenship, as well as measures to crack down on employers who game the system and exploit both American and immigrant workers, continuing to strengthen our border security, and strengthening the legal immigration system for families, employers, and workers," the statement said.

At the end of the meeting, the group offered a prayer, according to the White House.

Some faith leaders have long called for comprehensive immigration reform, but demand for reform has increased in the last few months.

“I think we have a window of opportunity in these first months of 2013,” Richard Land, president of the Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission, told CNN in January. “I think there is a real, new conversation on immigration reform.”

That window, Land acknowledged, is small and could close at any point. Congress has a number of issues to deal with in the coming year; Republican members of Congress hope to focus on government spending and the debt, while the White House is likely to push for gun control early in the president’s second term.

“I am hopeful that Congress can walk and chew gum and the same time,” Land said. “I am hopeful they can deal with more than one issue at the same time.”

In January, Land and a large group of other evangelical leaders took a big step towards pushing immigration reform by launching Evangelical Immigration Table, a group dedicated to making immigration reform a reality in 2013.

The group released an open letter to Congress and the White House. In it, they pressed Congress to respect “the God-given dignity of every person” and establish a “path toward legal status and/or citizenship for those who qualify and wish to become permanent residents.” In addition to meeting with Obama, Wallis tells CNN that over the last few months, the group has met with both Democratic and Republican leadership in the House and Senate, “from Chuck Schumer to Lindsey Graham.”

- Dan Merica

Filed under: Barack Obama • Immigration • Politics

soundoff (148 Responses)
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  4. DoDa

    Deter Uchtdorf is a man of character. He does not care about what is popluar (even among members of his own faith), he cares about what is right.

    His honesty in openly backing the President's philosophy on these immigration matters, knowing full well that his endorsement goes against the grain of the popular opinion among members of his own Church, shows the type of man he really is.

    Thank God we still have good political and faith leaders in this country who care about the common man and the effect our policies have on real people and real families. I has spoken very negatively about President Obama in the past, but the last three months have been a real eye opening experience for me. God bless men like President Obama and Deter Uchtdorf for at least trying to do what is right even if they often fail in their efforts. God bless the President of our nation even if I oftentimes feel his methods are misguided.

    Even as a more moderate conservative who tends to vote Republican, I can tell you that immigration reform in this nation is beyond necessary. These are archaic policies that effect real people and real families. It is going to take a collaborative effort on all our parts to help the few who are struggling under the weight of these discriminatory laws. It is time for evey man who calls himself a Christian to start being more Christlike by being more compasionate to the "hands that hang down."

    Sorry for my rant, but I am filled with an immense feeling of hope for our country, something I have not felt in a long time. God bless America!

    March 13, 2013 at 12:21 pm |
  5. kevobx

    Who are the people in the world that are lost? Tell the truth, if you call yourself an African American, what part of Africa did you come out of? (Amos 9:7) *Matthew 10:6 But go rather to the lost sheep of the house of Israel. *Matthew 18:11 For the Son of man is come to save that which was lost. *Exodus 2:25 And God looked upon the children of Israel, and God had respect unto them. *Luke 22:31 That ye may eat and drink at my table in my kingdom, and sit on thrones judging the twelve tribes of Israel. *Revelation 21:12 And had a wall great and high, and had twelve gates, and at the gates twelve angels, and names written thereon, which are the names of the twelve tribes of the children of Israel: *Exodus 28:21 And the stones shall be with the names of the children of Israel, twelve, according to their names, like the engravings of a signet; every one with his name shall they be according to the twelve tribes. (*1st Kings 18:31*)

    March 12, 2013 at 2:21 pm |
  6. kevobx

    Why is there secrecy in the churches? *Ephesians 5:32 This is a great mystery: but I speak concerning Christ and the church. *Amos 3:7 Surely the Lord God will do nothing, but he revealeth his secret unto his servants the prophets. *John 7:52 They answered and said unto him, Art thou also of Galilee? Search, and look: for out of Galilee ariseth no prophet. *Revelation 22:6 And he said unto me, These sayings are faithful and true: and the Lord God of the holy prophets sent his angel to shew unto his servants the things which shortly must be done. *Exodus 23:20 Behold, I send an Angel before thee, to keep thee in the way, and to bring thee into the place which I have prepared. *Matthew 27:62-63 Now the next day, that followed the day of preparation, the chief priests, and Pharisees came together unto Pilate, Saying, Sir, we remember that that deceiver said, while he was yet alive, After three days I will rise aagain. *Revelation 1:18 I am he that liveth, and was dead; and, behold, I am alive for evermore, Amen; and have the keys of hell and of death.

    March 12, 2013 at 1:00 pm |
  7. kevobx

    God is he odd, one. Satan is him even many gods. Name any spiritual ritual Christ ever performed in a church? The Most High is revealing all. Only Satan does rituals and miracles *Revelation 16:14 For they are the spirits of devils, working miracles, which go forth unto the kings of the earth and of the whole world, to gather them to the battle of that great day of God Almighty. *Isaiah 1:15 And when ye spread forth your hands, I will hide mine eyes from you: yea, when ye make many prayers, I will not hear: your hands are full of blood. *Matthew 27:25 Then answered all the people, and said, His blood be on us, and on our children.

    March 12, 2013 at 12:04 pm |
  8. kevobx

    Peter denied Christ three times, and somehow the Roman Catholic church made him their spiritual leader. *Luke 22:31 And the Lord said, Simon, Simon, behold, Satan hath desired to have you, that he may sift you as wheat: *Mark 14:66 And as Peter was beneath in the palace, there cometh one of the maids of the high priests: ( King David and King Solomon were not saved by the Lord God, because they worshipped the world. Salvation is grace and truth, and it belongs to Jacob and Joseph the blessings and the curses our heritage.) Psalm 77:15 *Deuteronomy 32:7*

    March 12, 2013 at 11:18 am |
    • .

      Oh look a mindless Christian that can't think for themselves, you are a brainwashed robot.

      March 12, 2013 at 11:20 am |
  9. Over 40,000 denominations of insanity

    Some believe that celibacy is appropriate for certain people, or for certain positions. It's ridiculous. Celibacy is unnatural and will continue to cause problems for the religious institutions that employ it.

    Many of the people from these same institutions advocate against abortion, but don't understand the realistic benefit of the morning after pill or even basic contraception; their unrealistic wishful thinking is causing the death of many at the hands of disease. Realistically, many abortions could be avoided if a morning-after pill were not viewed as such an evil option. Many of these same people bring children into the world at a high pace, and then would prefer that the rest of society take over and educate their children in their particular brand of religion when they don't plan well.

    In the U.S. recently we learned of the head of LCMS chastising a minister of that church for participating in a joint service for the victims of the Newtown school shooting.

    One sect calls homosexuality an abomination while the next one in the same denomination is already performing gay marriage.

    One sect, the Westboro Baptist Church believes Americans are being killed at war because America is too kind to "fags".

    One sect believes that Jesus and Satan were brothers and that Christ will return to Jerusalem AND Jackson County, Missouri.

    One sect believes women to be subservient, while another sect in the same denomination promotes equality between the sexes.

    Conflicted right from the very beginning, Christianity continues to splinter and create divisions and more extremism as it goes.

    Has anything improved with Christianity since 200+ years ago?

    Thomas Jefferson, POTUS #3 (from Notes on the State of Virginia):

    Millions of innocent men, women, and children, since the introduction of Christianity, have been burnt, tortured, fined, imprisoned; yet we have not advanced one inch towards uniformity. What has been the effect of coercion? To make one half the world fools, and the other half hypocrites. To support roguery and error all over the earth.

    James Madison, POTUS #4, chief architect of the U.S. Constitution & the Bill of Rights (from A Memorial and Remonstrance delivered to the Virginia General Assembly in 1785):

    During almost fifteen centuries has the legal establishment of Christianity been on trial. What has been its fruits? More or less in all places, pride and indolence in the clergy; ignorance and servility in the laity; in both, superstition, bigotry, and persecution.

    John Adams, POTUS #2 (in a letter to Thomas Jefferson, 09/03/1816):

    I almost shudder at the thought of alluding to the most fatal example of the abuses of grief which the history of mankind has preserved – the Cross. Consider what calamities that engine of grief has produced! With the rational respect that is due to it, knavish priests have added prostitutions of it, that fill or might fill the blackest and bloodiest pages of human history.

    Ben Franklin (from a letter to The London Packet, 3 June 1772):

    If we look back into history for the character of present sects in Christianity, we shall find few that have not in their turns been persecutors, and complainers of persecution. The primitive Christians thought persecution extremely wrong in the Pagans, but practised it on one another. The first Protestants of the Church of England, blamed persecution in the Roman church, but practised it against the Puritans: these found it wrong in the Bishops, but fell into the same practice themselves both here and in New England.

    Thomas Paine (from The Age of Reason):

    All national institutions of churches, whether Jewish, Christian or Turkish, appear to me no other than human inventions, set up to terrify and enslave mankind, and monopolize power and profit.

    March 12, 2013 at 10:46 am |
  10. kevobx

    They say America was founded on religious freedom. So you have the right to remain silent and to worship him Satan, anything you say will be held against you in a court of law. *Job 9:24 The earth is given into the hand of the wicked: he covereth the faces of the judges thereof, if not, where, and who is he? *John 9:9 Some said, This is he: others said, He is like him: but he said, I am he. *Acts 22:28 And the chief captain answered, With a great sum obtained I this freedom. And Paul said, But I was free born.

    March 12, 2013 at 10:43 am |
  11. kevobx

    The word Jewish is not in the Bible, call it anti semetic! To add ish to the word Jew is to bring on the plagues of the Bible. *Revelation 22:18 For I testify unto every man that heareth the words of the prophecy of this book, If any man shall add unto these things, God shall add unto him the plagues that are written in this book: *Exodus 15:26 And said, If thou wilt dilligently hearken to the voice of the Lord thy God, and wilt do that which is right in his sight, and wilt give ear to his commandments, and keep all his statutes, I will put none of these diseases upon thee, which I have brought upon the Egyptians: for I am the Lord that healeth thee. *Acts 8:21-22 Thou hast neither part nor lot in this matter: for thy heart is not right in the sight of God. Repent therefore of this thy wickedness, and pray God, if perhaps the thought of thine heart may be forgiven thee.

    March 12, 2013 at 10:09 am |
    • End Religion

      Hey ya crazy bastard, how's it hanging?

      March 12, 2013 at 10:14 am |
  12. kevobx

    You will not find grace and truth in any church, come out of her my people. Ask those faithful Christians what ever happen to their Bible, as a youth? Why did the church give them new Bibles with new translations? (Malachi 3:6) (Romans 1:25)

    March 12, 2013 at 9:37 am |
    • End Religion

      Hey, lunatic, time for your crazy morning drive-by, eh?

      March 12, 2013 at 9:40 am |
  13. Reality

    We are $16 trillion in debt and the POTUS is spending more money appeasing the chiefs/cheats of the religion cons !!!!

    See p. 2 for added details.

    March 11, 2013 at 11:47 pm |
  14. Adrian

    When was this last updated

    March 11, 2013 at 2:41 pm |
  15. Really

    How hard could it be to charm people who already fell for a fairy tale wolf god that created everything in a few days and a place where US citizens are burned alive forever in hellfire?
    A toad could charm those people.

    March 10, 2013 at 4:30 pm |
  16. kevobx

    Correction, that would be John 11:54-55 Jesus therefore walked no more openly among the Jews; but went thence unto a country near to the wilderness, into a city called Ephraim, and there continued with his disciples. And the Jews passover was nigh at hand: *Jeremiah 2:30 In vain have I smitten your children; they received no correction:. (Am I my brothers keeper?) *Jeremiah 2:23 How canst thou say, I am not polluted, I have not gone after Baalim? (Jude 11)

    March 10, 2013 at 1:07 pm |
    • End Religion

      May you be touched by His Noodly Appendage.

      March 10, 2013 at 4:34 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      That's the problem with this blog – there's altogether too much noodly appendage touching going on.

      Get yer hands off your crotches, you putzes.

      March 11, 2013 at 7:53 pm |
  17. kevobx

    No man ever talks about their father and where he descendant from his blood? Nowadays women can produce sperm? They also can put eggs in them. What did the Lord tell you about the Isles? By the way that Bible miniseries is pure evil & the world cannot discern. (Malachi 3:18) The world is selling the Bible for high ratings, and the love of money is their strength. The truth sets one free. Are you an apostle or a disciple? *Proverbs 23:23 Buy the truth, and sell it not; also wisdom, and instruction, and understanding. *John 8:54 Jesus therefore walked no more openly among the Jews; but went thence unto a country near to the wilderness, into a city called Ephraim, and continued with his disciples. (Psalm 77:15) Ephraim is Joseph son is that a lie? Puerto ricans are Ephraim. Read the entire Psalm 78 no man has the heart!

    March 10, 2013 at 12:44 pm |
    • End Religion

      The truth is painful. All you Christian nutters had better pack flame retardant swim trunks for your journey to hell. You'll be spending eternity being lava-boarded in god's concentration camp 'neath the Earth's crust. Hey, your rules, not mine. Enjoy!

      March 10, 2013 at 4:34 pm |
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About this blog

The CNN Belief Blog covers the faith angles of the day's biggest stories, from breaking news to politics to entertainment, fostering a global conversation about the role of religion and belief in readers' lives. It's edited by CNN's Daniel Burke with contributions from Eric Marrapodi and CNN's worldwide news gathering team.