Coming off their recent resolution advocating a path to legalization for non-criminal illegal immigrants, the Southern Baptist Convention’s lobbying and policy arm is stating that it would accept the DREAM Act with conditions.
“Richard Land, president of the SBC’s Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission, made the statement in a Monday letter to Sens. Charles Schumer, D-N.Y., and John Cornyn, R-Texas, who are the chairman and ranking member, respectively, of the Judiciary Subcommittee on Immigration, Refugees and Border Security,” according to a USAToday article.
The DREAM Act is the proposed law that would allow illegal immigrants brought to the U.S. as children to earn legal status, either by going to college or serving in the military.
In offering his views on the law, Land wrote: “The children of undocumented immigrants who were brought here by their parents should not be forced to bear the full penalty of their presence in the nation illegally. To consign them to lives often-times bordering on poverty levels for actions in which they had no part is too severe a penalty.”
One condition Land would need in place before supporting the act would be making sure the bill does not allow young adults who gain legal status to help their relatives gain legal status or enter the country. He called such a measure “back-door amnesty.”
As it stands now, illegal immigrants who qualify for the DREAM Act would have to wait six years to become a legal permanent resident. It is only then that they can begin the lengthy process of becoming a full-fledged citizen. After becoming a citizen they could be able sponsor their relatives for residency.
It is ironic that the dominant religious force in the South could support the DREAM Act, while states in the South are beginning to enact strict laws against illegal immigrants. Alabama recently passed what was deemed the most restrictive immigration law in the country.
In addition, Georgia’s immigration law, set to go into effect July 1, 2011, is also extremely restrictive. However, a federal judge has blocked the most controversial parts of the law, issuing a temporary injunction against two sections, saying the state was attempting to write immigration laws that would pre-empt federal statute.
It seems that there may be a cultural clash between state and religion in the South. This should make for an interesting discussion.