A group representing some 45 million American Christians has called on the nation's politicians to prioritize the passage of comprehensive immigration reform legislation.
The National Council of Churches (NCC) passed a resolution on Monday calling on President Obama and congress to "recommit themselves to the comprehensive, effective and humane reform of immigration laws and enforcement structures."
The group further called on its member communions and "millions of faithful Christians who worship in our churches to actively engage national, state and local legislatures to insist on comprehensive immigration reform at every level."
"At no point in our lives will we be able to say with complete honesty and full conviction that we have done all we can to fulfill Christ's call to ministry in Matthew 25:36‐46. However, by fully engaging our communities in direct service, welcome, education, and advocacy on behalf of our immigrant brothers and sisters, we will have found a way to faithfully pursue this vital and definitive call to 'welcome the stranger,'" the NCC said.
The resolution is the second from the NCC since 2008 and comes in response to Arizona's controversial anti-immigration law, which mandates local police to determine the nationality of persons they detain.
Opponents have said that the law, which is currently under an injunction, would lead to racial profiling by police, social service providers and community members, although polls have shown that a majority of Americans support at least some of the law's provisions. Similar legislation is currently under review in over 20 states.
"Since the enactment of this harsh legislation in Arizona, faith leaders from around the country traveled together to that state to stand in solidarity with immigrants and return to their communities with first-hand accounts of the fear that is plaguing the immigrant community," the group stated.
The NCC is among the dozens of faith-based organizations that have led a massive push for immigration reform this year through the organizing of demonstrations and lobbying efforts that have involved tens of thousands of activists.
Reform backers intensified their efforts in April after SB1070 was signed – a move that also prompted involvement from the Obama administration.
In July, the Justice Department sued Arizona for interfering in federal immigration work, resulting in an injunction placed on the law just days before it was scheduled to be implemented. The Justice Department has also filed a lawsuit against Arizona Sherriff Joe Arpaio for allegedly overstepping his bounds in immigration enforcement.
Despite his administration's efforts, however, President Obama said on Wednesday that he doesn't believe immigration reform will pass before this November's elections.
"You know, it is a very difficult thing to do administratively, and because we want comprehensive reform, and because we want the Dream Act, what we don't want to do is give an excuse to the opposition to say, 'Obama's trying to do an end-run around Congress,'" Obama said in an interview with Telemundo.
The same afternoon Senator Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) said that he plans to reintroduce the DREAM (Development, Relief and Education for Alien Minors) Act to Congress for a shot as passing during a lame duck session.
"We're not giving up," Durbin said during a rally on Wednesday. "This is not the end of the fight, it's just the beginning."
Durbin said that if the act doesn't pass this year, he's optimistic that it will go through in the next session of Congress.