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Churches push hard on last-minute legislation

December 7, 2010, 3:10 pm | Posted by ggraves-fitzsimmons
Religion News Service
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With three weeks left before the 111th Congress adjourns, faith groups are mounting a full court press on Capitol Hill on a number of bills, including a nuclear treaty with Russia and an immigration bill.

Advocates are pressing for action on The DREAM Act, which would allow illegal immigrants to gain citizenship through military service or a college education, and the START nuclear treat with Russia.

Churches and other religious groups scored an early victory on Thursday (Dec. 2) when the House passed the Child Nutrition Reauthorization bill, which devotes $4.5 billion to child nutrition programs over 10 years, following Senate passage in August. More than 10,000 people from Christian, Jewish and Muslim organizations have enlisted supporters to call senators to pass the DREAM Act, which has already passed the House.

“People from across the faith communities would agree that we’ve waited too long already to pass the DREAM Act,” said Kristin Ford, a spokeswoman at the Washington-based group Faith in Public Life.

Groups are rallying around Bernard Pastor, an 18-year-old Ohio high school graduate who came with his family from Guatemala at age 3 and faces possible deportation without the path to citizenship outlined in the DREAM Act.

“Every year, 65,000 Bernards graduate from high school and face the threat of being deported,” said the Rev. Troy Jackson, a Cincinnati pastor who is rallying supporters behind Pastor’s case. “If the Senate wants to talk about tax cuts for the wealthiest Americans, and not address the DREAM act for people like Bernard, then their priorities are not in line with the vast majority of Americans.”

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