Dueling political advertisements regarding the Senate bill to reform the U.S. immigration system are airing across Kentucky this week.
The Democratic-controlled Senate will begin debating legislation that offers a pathway to citizenship for an estimated 11 million immigrants who are in the U.S. illegally. Last week, the Senate Judiciary Committee approved the measure, which also creates new work Visa programs and seeks to tighten border security.
Louisville pastor Russell Moore is featured in the radio spot running across the state, and he is joining a bipartisan group of evangelical ministers who are calling on lawmakers to pass those comprehensive reforms.
Moore is part of the Evangelical Immigration Table, which is launching a radio ad campaign in states such as Ohio, North Carolina and Kentucky to reach a wide audience of evangelicals. It is part of the larger “Pray for Reform” movement made up of conservative and liberal religious groups.
Moore, who is a dean at The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, is considered a rising voice in the Southern Baptist world. He says the broad coalition includes Sojourners, and is representative of how people of faith are being moved by the immigration debate.
“Evangelicals are understanding that our broken system is a moral issue. This isn’t just a legal issue, this isn’t a political (and) it isn’t just an economic issue only,” he says. “It’s been a stain on our country for too long, and now’s the time for the country to come together for an immigration system that respects the God-given human dignity of every person.”
Those against the Senate bill are also running a series of radio and TV ads in the state, however.
The group NumbersUSA is launching radio and TV ads calling the so-called Gang of Eight’s measure an amnesty bill that abandons unemployed Americans in favor of undocumented immigrants.
“This is not immigration reform. This is amnesty. And we already know that amnesty doesn’t bring any benefits to America,” says Luis Pozzolo of Lexington, who is a NumbersUSA member and founder of American for Lawful Immigration Solutions Today. “All the promises about border security, benefits for illegal’s (and) people will be learning English are just promises. This is just plain amnesty and I don’t think to reward illegal activity is good for America.”
Pozzolo became a naturalized U.S. citizen last December after migrating from Uruguay in nine years ago. He says the legislation doesn’t adequately address border security, adding immigrants such as himself followed the rule of law.
Republicans who have flirted with or come out in support of this legislation have faced stinging criticisms from its right-wing opponents. Despite recognition the GOP is fairing poorly with Hispanics in elections, those lawmakers are being pressured to block the bill next month.
A group dubbed Floridians for Immigration Enforcement, for instance, has erected billboards across the state attacking Republican Senator Marco Rubio for sponsoring the legislation. It scolds Rubio for backing a proposal bringing in “33 million foreign workers over the next ten years.”
And though it is expected to pass the Senate, observers say the bill could still die in the Republican-controlled House.
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