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Over 1,000 Evangelical leaders challenge Trump on immigration

President Donald Trump hosts a roundtable discussion on the MS-13 gang with law enforcement officials inside the Cabinet Room of the White House, Feb. 6, 2018, in Washington. Tom Brenner//The New York Times/Redux

USA – More than 1,000 evangelical leaders have signed a letter urging USA President Donald Trump and members of Congress to act on immigration, dreamers and refugee policy with compassion.

The letter, spearheaded by the evangelical organization World Relief, was printed as a full-page advertisement in Wednesday’s Washington Post.

It was supported by leaders from across the nation and from different streams of evangelicalism, including Max Lucado, Dr. Russell Moore of the Southern Baptist Convention’s Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission; Jen Hatmaker, the progressive Christian author; and Rev. Samuel Rodriguez, president of the National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference.

According to Huffington Post, an online version of the letter received more than 1,400 signatures by Wednesday afternoon, including a pastor from every state.

The group is united against the president’s DACA (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program) deadline and is advocating for a more welcoming immigration and refugee policy.

Last year, a similar group took out an ad denouncing Trump’s attempt to ban certain refugees, a controversial executive order that has been caught up in legal battles during the past year. This year’s ad also includes controversial immigration issues that have been tied up in recent congressional battles.

“As Christian leaders, we have a commitment to caring for the vulnerable in our churches while also supporting just, compassionate, and welcoming policies toward refugees and other immigrants,” the letter opens, going on to request legal protection for the Dreamers who entered the US as children, an increase in the admittance of refugees and persecuted Christians, and quicker priority for immigrants seeking to reunite with their families.

The letter avoided expressing support for specific proposals or legislation. Instead, it lists four groups that are of particular concern to these evangelicals: recipients of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program (also known as Dreamers), refugees, persecuted Christians, and Americans who are waiting to be reunified with close family members living overseas.

According to CBN News, the Christian leaders also raise concerns about a drop in refugees allowed in the US under this administration, along with the so-called “chain migration” policy President Trump says must end.

“God ordained the family as the cornerstone of society, and we believe that our country is stronger when our citizens can be quickly reunited with their close family members,” the letter reads.

“We pray you will respect the unity of the family,” it continues.

Thousands of faith leaders will convene in Washington Thursday for the National Prayer Breakfast.

In January, the White House proposed a pathway to citizenship for 1.8 million undocumented immigrants who came to the U.S. as children, in exchange for $25 billion for border security, including funding for Trump’s border wall.

Trump also wants to phase out the diversity visa lottery and policies that allow Americans to sponsor certain family members for green cards.

Democrats and even some Republicans in Congress have expressed opposition to the measures Trump has proposed, particularly those that would drastically reduce options for legal immigration.

Additional Reporting by Agencies.

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