Senator Reid Promises Immigration Reform in 2010

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) promised a group of immigration activists on Saturday that he would fight to pass comprehensive immigration reform this year.

"We're going to come back, we're going to have comprehensive immigration reform now," Reid told a crowd of nearly 6,000 in Las Vegas, according to the New York Times.

"We need to do this this year," he added, drawing cheers. "We cannot wait."

Reid's remarks came at one of several immigration rallies held across the nation over the weekend, which included events in Chicago, Seattle, El Paso, New York City, Philadelphia and Providence.

The events follow a strong demonstration in late March, when nearly 200,000 activists gathered at the National Mall in Washington, D.C. to press lawmakers to take action.

Reid, who met with several faith leaders including Sojourners President Jim Wallis following the demonstration, called the faith community "peaceful…powerful" and poised to "add a new dimension to getting this done because if there were ever anything that dealt with fairness, it's this immigration issue."

Reid also pledged to do everything in his power to get immigration "over the finish line."

Meanwhile, a recent poll from the Public Religion Research Institute found broad support across mainline, Catholic and evangelical voters for a comprehensive approach to immigration reform.

The poll also found that over 50 percent of voters consider the immigration system to be completely or mostly broken, and more than two-thirds (68 percent) say the inability of the immigration system to deal with illegal immigrants residing in the U.S. and the inability to properly secure the border are very serious or extremely serious (67 percent) problems.

The poll also found that a strong majority of all voters (71 percent) say that following the Golden Rule-"providing immigrants the same opportunity that I would want if my family were immigrating to the U.S."- is a very or extremely important value.

An open letter from the National Council of Churches (NCC) released in February this year expressed "urgent concern" over the "more than 12 million immigrants living in the United States find themselves without the hope of becoming citizens, reuniting with family members or enjoying the legal protections that most of us take for granted."

"Yet many of these people have lived and worked in our communities for years, becoming our friends and family, and often performing the daily tasks that enhance our quality of life," the letter said, whose signers included the Rev. Michael Kinnamon, general secretary of the NCC; the Rev. John L. McCullough, executive director for Church World Service (CWS); and the Rev. Gradye Parsons, stated clerk for the Presbyterian Church (USA) among others.

Calling comprehensive immigration reform a "divine mandate" and a "patriotic act," the signers declared that communities of faith are now at a "significant moment of convergence where our faith commitments and values and the needs of millions of disenfranchised people converge," and encouraged churches to hold prayer vigils, lobby Congress members, and teach their congregants about immigration reform.

"Our prayer and hope is that you will invite your fellow believers to join you in advocacy for justice in this crucial and historic time," the letter concludes.

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