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Religious Leaders Meet In Springfield To Discuss Immigration Reform

Wayne Baker

Several evangelical leaders gathered in Springfield Monday afternoon to discuss immigration reform. The group shared their plans to meet with members of Congress in order to voice support for the reform issue.

Several members of the Clark County Latino community gathered at the Iglesia Espana Emanuel Church to hear the evangelical leaders frame the need for immigration reform.

Dr. William Brown of Cedarville University, a conservative institute of higher learning, says he backs reform.

"Every time I go down to the Civil Rights Museum, and I see MLK and his emphasis on the word of God and doing justly and so on, I keep coming back to this issue over and over again," Brown said "I couldn't be silent anymore, I had to be involved."

Jesse Bowers is with the Apex Church in Dayton. He shared with the audience that he had in the past harbored a hatred toward immigrants, but now feels differently. Bowers and his wife now live in a Hispanic part of Dayton.

"I had to come to the conclusion that I was wrong," Bowers said. "Some of the shameful things that I said, were just 'why don't we just put up gun towers?' You know things like that that honestly I am willing to share because I know my heart has changed."

Monserrate Salas from the Emanuel Church encouraged a Clark County mother of five to talk about how her husband has been detained for several months while waiting to see if he will be deported.

Carl Ruby, the Ohio director for the group Bibles, Badges and Business for Immigration Reform, says this kind of treatment is pulling many immigrant families apart. 

He feels Congress' inability to act on reform and President Obama's strained relationship with the GOP is stalling progress.

"Among Republicans they are divided into a number of different camps. There's been one group that has wanted to wait until after the primaries," Ruby said. "There's another group that says let's wait until after the November elections, we can retake the Senate and that will be the best time to do it and there's a third group that says we don't trust President Obama that's wait until we have a different president and then we will do it."

The group of evangelical leaders will be flying to Washington to meet with congressional members Tuesday morning.