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Faith Leaders Decry 'Anti-Immigrant' Immigration Law

Arizona Immigration

First Posted: 06/27/10 06:12 AM ET Updated: 05/25/11 05:15 PM ET

By Adelle M. Banks
Religion News Service

(RNS) Religious leaders planned legal action and civil disobedience after Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer signed a bill into law Friday (April 23) they believe is "anti-immigrant" and will foster racial profiling.

The National Coalition of Latino Clergy & Christian Leaders is developing a suit against the law that allows law enforcement agencies to detain people who cannot immediately prove their U.S. citizenship.

"There is no fairness or respect for due process in the implementation of this law and we expect the courts to find it unconstitutional," said the Rev. Miguel Rivera, chairman of the
coalition and its legal defense fund.

The Rev. Jim Wallis, who had joined other religious leaders in petitioning Brewer to veto the bill, said the law crosses both legal and moral lines.

"This law will make it illegal to love your neighbor in Arizona, and will force us to disobey Jesus and his gospel," the founder of the anti-poverty group Sojourners said of churches. "We will not comply."

Other groups weighing in -- from the National Council of Churches to the Unitarian Universalist Association to the Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism -- decried the law as "inhumane," "invasive" and a demonstration of the need for comprehensive immigration reform.

Brewer said Friday she listened to both sides and "prayed for strength" as she made her decision, which she says enforces laws against illegal immigration and racial profiling.

The governor said law enforcement officers will be trained so they know how to define "'reasonable suspicion' a person is not legally present in the United States."

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Filed by Clay Chiles  |