Immigration: The Next Hot Topic in Washington?

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Immigration is expected to be the next hot topic after health care in Washington.

Religious leaders who believe it's their Biblical duty to push for reform met at the White House Monday.

This comes after a massive weekend rally.

Tens of thousands rallied on the National Mall Sunday, calling for millions of illegal immigrants to be brought legally out of the shadows.

"I've been here illegally for 14 years, and it's time for us to get some kind of justice," one immigrant said.

They also say many illegals don't cost America, they contribute.

"We pay taxes and everything. We work for everything," another immigrant said.

But the head of a group that wants much less immigration says reform advocates face daunting odds.

"They have a pretty impossible task. They're in town saying eight million people here illegally should be at the front of the line while 25 million Americans are out of jobs," Roy Beck with NumbersUSA said.

Monday, the fight moved from the streets to inside a pretty important house.

On a rainy DC day, 14 pro-reform religious leaders met with White House officials.

As you could tell from all those demonstrations against the health care bill, street action doesn't really accomplish much in Washington these days.

What matters is what goes on inside the halls of power. That's why these advocates for immigration reform are so pleased they got to meet with so many important officials inside the White House.

Heading up a mostly Republican congregation, Pastor Rich Nathan quoted scripture.

"In Leviticus 19 it says we're to, in the same chapter that it says we should love our neighbor as ourselves, it says we should love the immigrant as ourselves. So, that's god's heart," Nathan said.

"We say the time is now. The time to fix this broken system is now," Jim Wallis, President of Sojourners, said.

But some say President Obama and Congress may be too bloodied from the health care battle to take on another controversial issue now.

"Everyone knows how bruised people in the White House and Congress are after the health care fight.," Beck said. "Someone at the White House was heard to say they need to do popular things for the rest of the year. Making illegal aliens their priority would not be a popular thing."

If they don't, though, Sam Rodriguez of the National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference pointed out, "They will lose a very large constituency. 50 million Hispanics, 20 million Hispanic evangelicals. Not that they necessarily agree with President Obama on every single issue, but it's a very large constituency to alienate and disenfranchise."

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Paul  Strand

Paul Strand

CBN News Washington Sr. Correspondent

As senior correspondent in CBN's Washington, D.C., bureau, Paul Strand has covered a variety of political and social issues, with an emphasis on defense, justice, and Congress.  Follow Paul on Twitter @PaulStrandCBN and "like" him at Facebook.com/PaulStrandCBN.