Christian Leaders Tackle Immigration Reform

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When it comes to the issue of immigration reform, there's no shortage of opinions or passions -- not only from politicians, but also from the pulpit.

"The issue of immigration is one that affects us as a church family," said Rich Nathan of the Vineyard Church of Columbus.

Now, a group of conservative evangelicals, including Southern Baptist Leader Richard Land, have come together with a message for the nation's leaders.

"Deportation is unrealistic and isn't going to happen," Land said.

Here's what they propose:

Secure the borders first. Then they would create an "earned pathway to legal status" which would include a grace period where people could come forward, undergo criminal background checks, pay fines and back taxes, learn English and take a civics classes.

They also want to make the process quicker and more affordable for people trying to come to the U.S. legally.

One idea is creating a tamper-proof social security card.

The faith leaders have met with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, Chuck Schumer -- the author of the Senate immigration bill -- and top presidential adviser Valerie Jarrett.

They say they are making progress, but there is one issue that could be a deal-breaker -- a provision that would give same-sex partners the right to become U.S. citizens, just like married couples.

"You can just put a death certificate on immigration reform if it includes same-sex domestic partners," Land said.

The evangelical leaders are hoping their message is picked up by more Republicans because they say a large number of Hispanic immigrants are actually tailor-made social conservatives.

"The family values party is alienating the most pro-life, pro-family constituency in America -- go figure," Samuel Rodriquez, president of the National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference, said.

They will have to reach out to Tea Party activists, too, who generally tend to agree with the Arizona law and consider a pathway to citizenship to be amnesty.

"Leviticus 19 says that we need to be compassionate to the alien within our midst. That doesn't mean close the borders, it means secure the borders," said Mat Staver, founder and chairman of the Liberty Counsel.

For conservative evangelicals, this is just the first step.

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Charlene  Aaron

Charlene Aaron

CBN News Reporter

Charlene Aaron serves as a general assignment reporter and helps anchor for the CBN News Channel.  Follow her on Twitter @CharNews and "like" her at Facebook.com/CharleneIsraelCBNNews.