Local minister joins immigration lobbying effort

To attend national faith-based conference

About 20 people attended a Thursday meeting to discuss immigration reform, and one of the attendees will join a nationwide effort in Washington, D.C., next week to lobby Congress on the issue.

The Rev. Noah Angel, First Baptist Church’s pastor of Hispanic ministries, will join a national delegation organized by Evangelical Immigration Table. The faith-based, non-partisan coalition organized the meeting at First Baptist Church and seeks to align immigration laws with biblical values.

The group says that includes respecting dignity, protecting unity of the immediate family, respecting the rule of law, guaranteeing secure borders and ensuring fairness to taxpayers.

The group doesn’t support amnesty, but does advocate creating legal paths to citizenship after paying restitution.

Angel said he hopes to speak with U.S. Reps. Blaine Luetkemeyer, R-St. Elizabeth; Vicky Hartzler, R-Harrisonville, and possibly other members of Missouri’s congressional delegation.

He said he won’t give them the hard-sell, but he’ll let them know that he’s praying for them and remind them that their decisions affect the lives of real people.

He said he understands people’s sentiment that people need to enter the country legally, but he said the road to citizenship is long and lined with many obstacles.

“I would like to see primarily that those families that are here with children who have been born here, try to unite them, give them their parents and all their siblings to have an opportunity to become permanent residents,” Angel said.

He said the government should keep track of illegal aliens, but give them a chance to get Social Security numbers so they can work legally and not have to “live in the shadows.”

Angel and other delegates with Evangelical Immigration Table will visit members of Congress next Tuesday, then return home Wednesday.

During the meeting, Jefferson City resident Wendy Fox said the notion that illegal aliens don’t pay taxes is inaccurate. She came to the United States more than two decades ago on a green card from Honduras and has since gained her U.S. citizenship.

“I’ve always heard people complain that illegals don’t pay tax, and really we do, because when you go to the stores, you buy food and you pay tax. When you go into a restaurant, you pay tax. You buy a car, you’ve gotta pay your tax.”

Robb Tarr of the Evangelical Immigration Table said immigrants can wait two decades or longer before being granted citizenship, and that his group wants federal laws to have “feasible paths for people to at least get legal status, if not citizenship.

“One of the things that comes up a lot is, ‘Well, you should have gotten in line. You should have done it the right way.’ But the fact of the matter is for a lot of people who are here, who are trying to be here, the line is unreasonably long.”

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