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Evangelicals Announce Ad Buy Urging GOP to Back Immigration Overhaul

By    |   Tuesday, 20 August 2013 06:57 PM

Evangelical groups supporting immigration reform are funding a $400,000 advertising blitz on Christian radio stations in 14 states and 56 congressional districts.

The two-week ad buy by the Evangelical Immigration Table is the largest yet in the coalition's nearly million-dollar effort to back legislation that would grant citizenship to millions of undocumented immigrants, Roll Call reported Tuesday.

The ads will run in markets mostly represented by Republicans, said Barrett Duke, vice president for public policy and research at the Southern Baptist Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission.

"They’ll return to Washington knowing they have support at home for taking action on reform," Duke said.

Organizers said the ads will run primarily in Republican districts in Alabama, Arkansas, California, Colorado, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Louisiana, Missouri, Oklahoma, North Carolina, South Carolina, Texas, and Wisconsin.

"This is not really hypothetical or even political," Mike McClenahan, a pastor in Solana Beach, Calif., told NBC News.

"This is personal because there are so many children in our community who are living in fear that their parents are going to be deported."

Evangelical groups have joined labor unions and immigrant groups in pushing for reform.

"Immigrants are part of the membership of all of our groups, and for that reason we care about immigration," said Glen Carey, vice president of government relations for the National Association of Evangelicals.

The issue is also humanitarian, said Felix Cabrera, pastor at the Quail Springs Baptist Church in Oklahoma City, where undocumented immigrants make up about half of his church's congregation.

"As a Hispanic pastor in the United States, I have to deal with the collateral damage that our broken immigration system brings to my people," he said. "The Bible doesn’t call me to judge the reasons why immigrants arrive to this country. The Bible calls me to love them and welcome them."

The last time Congress went home for August in the midst of an immigration debate was in 2006, but opponents succeeded in killing momentum for the legislation, Roll Call reported. Carey said this time around, "the pro-immigrant voice has been rather prominent in many of the town halls that we have observed."

The Senate passed a sweeping reform bill in June, but House leaders have declined to take up the comprehensive measure, instead favoring a step-by-step approach that focuses on border security, enforcement, and employer verification.

Republican Rep. Bob Goodlatte of Virginia, the chairman of the influential House Judiciary Committee, reiterated Monday that House leaders won’t take up the Senate bill and that his panel will not support a "special pathway to citizenship" for those in the country illegally.

"We’re not asking for a special path towards citizenship," Duke said. "We’re not asking for automatic citizenship. What we’re asking, simply, is that those who quality in the same way that anybody else would qualify could get in that line, and when they get in that line they get in line behind the folks who have already applied."

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Evangelical groups supporting immigration reform are funding a $400,000 advertising blitz on Christian radio stations in 14 states and 56 congressional districts.
Tuesday, 20 August 2013 06:57 PM
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