Emily Wagster Pettus, reporting for AP:
JACKSON, Miss. (AP) — Leaders from four Christian denominations are calling on Mississippi lawmakers to reject an Arizona-style immigration bill that would let officers check during traffic stops to see if a person is in the country illegally.
Bishops from the Catholic, Episcopal, Evangelical Lutheran and United Methodist churches in Mississippi said Friday that residents must be willing to forgive immigrants who enter the United States without permission.
In an open letter to legislators and Gov. Haley Barbour, the bishops said the U.S. immigration system is "broken and outdated," but should be reformed by the federal government, not by states.
"Comprehensive immigration reform that secures our borders, guarantees fair and effective worksite enforcement, strengthens our economy and provides a means for earned legalization would honor the values of human dignity, family unity, and mercy and forgiveness that our faith traditions demand of us," the bishops wrote in the letter, which was also released to news organizations.
The letter was signed by Bishop Joseph N. Latino of the Catholic Diocese of Jackson; Bishop Roger P. Morin of the Catholic Diocese of Biloxi; Bishop Duncan M. Gray III of the Episcopal Diocese of Mississippi; Bishop H. Julian Gordy of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, Southeastern Synod; and Bishop Hope Ward Morgan of the Mississippi Conference of the United Methodist Church.
"It is my most fervent hope that what appears to be a fear-based, politically motivated approach to the challenges of immigration will have no place in our churches," Gray said in a news release that accompanied the letter. "This is not who we are. This is not who we are called to be. Our Lord's words — 'I was a stranger, and you welcomed me,' makes no reference to immigration papers."