The standards were met with broad support among many West Michigan faith leaders, who lauded the movement toward much-needed reform and called on Congress to pass reform this year.
The following are quotes from faith leaders in West Michigan:
The Rev. Brian Bennett, lead pastor, Overflow Church, Benton Harbor: "As those who follow the truth of scripture, it is clear and imperative that we pursue the extension of equality and opportunity to those that have, or will, lawfully seek refuge and freedom within our borders. Those that seek to refuse or remove basic rights misunderstand the foundation on which our country was built and the great commandment to ‘love our neighbor.’ Our faith informs this love and encourages humility and hospitality as we engage in this movement that has much to do with human dignity in our generation."
The Rev. Joel Boot, executive director, Christian Reformed Church in North America, Grand Rapids: "We are greatly encouraged by the progress being made on immigration reform. These standards are a hopeful sign that the House is motivated to fix the broken immigration system. Christians are called to notice the concerns of ‘the least, the last, and the lost,’ and in the midst of our broken system, the concerns of immigrants made vulnerable by our current broken system are great. When immigrants suffer, we all suffer. While we have a long way to go, I pray that this is the first real step toward a solution to this national disgrace."
Tim Brown, president, Western Theological Seminary, Holland: "Jesus' call, 'Come to me all who are heavy ladened and I will give you rest' and our Statue of Liberty leaning forward to say, 'Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,' compel me to join with other Evangelical leaders in urging Congress to bring forward immigration reform that works. We know — and a watching world knows that we know — how to get this done, and these Republican principles bring hope of a real, achievable, and common sense solution. In the name of Jesus, we must do this!"
The Rev. Chris Conrad, district superintendent, Western Michigan District of the Wesleyan Church, Grand Rapids: "Because we have waited too long for a just immigration system, I applaud GOP leaders in their willingness to address this issue. As a faith leader who is concerned about the unity of family and justice for those on the margins, I see a lot of hope in these standards laid out by Republicans."
Wesley Granberg-Michaelson, general secretary emeritus, Reformed Church in America, Grand Rapids: "Societies develop to their full potential when strangers and aliens in their midst become neighbors and friends. This is the year when the moral mandate for fundamental reform in our immigration system can find legal implementation. Any step forward is welcomed, for such reforms in the long run address not only our society's economic strength and political health, but also our future moral and religious vitality."
Peter Vander Meulen, coordinator, Office of Social Justice of the Christian Reformed Church in North America, Grand Rapids: "We've been praying for the GOP to move forward to address our broken system, and we welcome these standards as an answer to that prayer. There are so many living in the shadows, and a chance to legalize will fundamentally change their lives."