Several faith, law enforcement and business leaders from North Carolina and South Carolina gathered in Charlotte on Thursday to discuss the need for immigration reform and to urge a vote this year. I care about immigration reform because I am an immigrant who has been working hard for the betterment of this community we all love.
I have joined other conservative leaders for meetings with North Carolina members of Congress. Among those advocating humane immigration reform, I have been amazed to find community members from all walks of life: business leaders, teachers, families, people of faith, veterans and immigrants from many different backgrounds.
We all are united around the urgent need to replace our broken immigration system. We all understand that immigration touches every issue and that doing nothing is not acceptable.
Recently I was asked to speak about immigration reform, and only one thing came to mind: love.
We all know that we need a workable solution to address the millions of undocumented immigrants living in the greatest humanitarian-focused nation in the world. They are part of our families and our churches. They are our customers and our community.
And they have the potential to become engineers, mathematicians, business owners, pastors, teachers, police officers, soldiers and more.
Moreover, 8.8 million people in the U.S. live in mixed-status families. Many parents without legal status have children who are U.S. citizens.
As a man of the clergy, I understand the importance of obeying the rule of law, but we must address laws that are dysfunctional. And, reading the word of God, I found a law that is greater than any earthly one, a law that changes the worst of man in any society into the possible best citizen: the law of love and grace.
This is a God-given opportunity for us to apply our saviors greatest commandment: Love your neighbor as yourself.
By fixing what is broken and offering undocumented immigrants the opportunity to get right with the law, we truly will reflect what it means to be a community of nations. It is up to us to create a process that leads to lawful permanent resident status and the opportunity to earn eventual citizenship an earned legalization program that includes paying a fine, registering and paying any taxes due.
The moral imperative for reform is unmatched, but reforming the immigration system also will increase the number of taxpayers, boost consumption, spark global competitiveness and create a level playing field for all workers. And we must not underestimate the potential of DREAMers young people brought to this country as children once reform unlocks the best educational opportunities our nation has to offer.
The time for reform is now, and support is broad: In a recent poll, 61 percent supported an immigration plan that includes a way for aspiring Americans to earn legal status.
The GOP and its leaders must stand for broad immigration reform that meets our needs and values. As a church leader in my community, I am committed to support and encourage every leaders efforts and actions toward reform that meets the needs of our nations economy, families and Christian values.
Dr. Erick Miguel Poaty is the founder and senior pastor of CFCM-The Revival Center International in Raleigh.