Just two days after President Barack Obama renewed a call for immigration reform, a group of Houston religious leaders said Thursday that despite a discouraging political climate, they see signs of change.
“I feel the people are shifting,” said the Rev. Michael Rinehart, who as bishop of the Texas-Louisiana Gulf Coast Synod oversees the region’s Evangelical Lutheran churches.
But he and other leaders who spoke after an interfaith prayer service that was filled with symbols of unity — Iman Mustafa Yigit reading from the Quran in Arabic, Rabbi Mark Miller blowing a shofar, the Rev. Uriel Osnaya offering a prayer in Spanish – know the goal remains elusive.
“I’m not sure Washington is shifting,” Rinehart said. “Politics trumps policy sometimes.”
The interfaith coalition first began promoting immigration reform more than a year ago, both among their congregations and in public pronouncements.
“We know this is a long haul, and we want to maintain our focus,” said Cardinal Daniel DiNardo of the Archdiocese of Galveston-Houston. “The work needs to continue.”
That’s the right attitude. I have always believed that the kind of ugly xenophobia we have seen lately is to some extent a function of bad economic times. The bad actors don’t go away in good times, they just don’t get nearly as much traction. The positive economic indicators we’ve seen lately are a good sign.
They’re correct that not much is likely to happen in Washington right now. While they do need to continue their work, I hope they will remember that some of that work needs to be done at home. Things may be static in Congress (modulo a few egregious exceptions that are thankfully unlikely to get anywhere), but there’s a lot of bad stuff fixing to come out of the Lege, and the more voices pushing back against it, the better.