Southern Baptist leader: Would accept DREAM Act

AP News
Posted: Jun 30, 2011 7:26 PM
Southern Baptist leader: Would accept DREAM Act

A Southern Baptist Convention leader says the group's policy arm supports a version of the DREAM Act _ the proposed law that would allow illegal immigrants who were brought to the U.S. as children to earn legal status, either by going to college or serving in the military.

Richard Land, president of the SBC's Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission, made the statement in a Monday letter to Sens. Charles Schumer, D-N.Y., and John Cornyn, R-Texas, who are the chairman and ranking member, respectively, of the Judiciary Subcommittee on Immigration, Refugees and Border Security.

Land wrote that his commission could support the DREAM Act, with conditions. One condition would be making sure the bill does not allow young adults who gain legal status to help their relatives gain legal status or enter the country. He called such a measure "back-door amnesty."

In explaining the commission's position to the subcommittee, Land wrote: "The children of undocumented immigrants who were brought here by their parents should not be forced to bear the full penalty of their presence in the nation illegally. To consign them to lives often-times bordering on poverty levels for actions in which they had no part is too severe a penalty."

In an interview on Thursday, Land said he was asked by a member of the subcommittee, whom he would not name, to provide the panel with a letter outlining what provisions the commission could support.

The Nashville-based Southern Baptist Convention is the nation's largest Protestant denomination.

The often politically conservative group earlier this month passed a resolution at its annual meeting in Phoenix advocating a path to legalization for non-criminal illegal immigrants, but it did not mention the DREAM Act specifically.

That resolution also called on the government to prioritize border security and hold businesses accountable for their hiring. And it called on Southern Baptists to minister to all people and to reject bigotry and harassment toward all people, regardless of their country of origin or immigration status.