What the Southern Baptist leader said about Barack Obama’s speech on immigration reform

President Barack Obama arrives to speak about immigration at American University in Washington. AP/Charles Dharapak

President Barack Obama arrives to speak about immigration at American University in Washington. AP/Charles Dharapak

President Barack Obama today made his first major speech on immigration reform, decrying the lack of Republican interest.

From the text posted by the Wall Street Journal:

“Just a few years ago, when I was a senator, we forged a bipartisan coalition in favor of comprehensive reform. Under the leadership of Senator Kennedy, who had been a longtime champion of immigration reform, and Senator John McCain, we worked across the aisle to help pass a bipartisan bill through the Senate. But that effort eventually came apart. And now, under the pressures of partisanship and election-year politics, many of the 11 Republican senators who [worked toward] reform in the past have now backed away from their previous support.”

Obama didn’t call them out by name, but one presumes that the 11 GOP senators include Georgia’s Johnny Isakson and Saxby Chambliss – who endured a deal of criticism from Republican grassroots three years ago. Obama continued:

“Into this breach, states like Arizona have decided to take matters into their own hands. Given the levels of frustration across the country, this is understandable. But it is also ill conceived. And it’s not just that the law Arizona passed is divisive -– although it has fanned the flames of an already contentious debate.

“Laws like Arizona’s put huge pressures on local law enforcement to enforce rules that ultimately are unenforceable. It puts pressure on already hard-strapped state and local budgets. It makes it difficult for people here illegally to report crimes -– driving a wedge between communities and law enforcement, making our streets more dangerous and the jobs of our police officers more difficult.”

According to the Associated Press:

Obama has endorsed a proposal by Sens. Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., and Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., that would require illegal immigrants to admit they broke the law, pay fines and back taxes and perform community service to eventually obtain legal status. But Graham since has balked at acting on immigration this year, and no other Senate Republican has come forward.

Most reaction to the speech could be called predictable. But Republican politicians in Georgia might want to pay attention to a formal statement from Richard Land, president of the Southern Baptist Convention’s Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission.

He’s basically the top Southern Baptist lobby in Washington, and a major voice of conservative Christians. Said Land, according to Politico:

“President Obama laid out the elements for an immigration policy that will mend the social fabric of our nation…The President has acted like a statesman, not a politician. Statesmen are concerned with the next generation, politicians are concerned with the next election. It’s time for Congress to step up and be statesmen.”

In essence, one of the most influential evangelicals in the country has placed a limit on rhetoric in the debate to come.

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45 comments Add your comment

Bo Chambliss LOBBYIST

July 1st, 2010
3:07 pm

Last Word

July 1st, 2010
3:25 pm

Kudos to Richard Land.
Well said.

Michael Riley

July 1st, 2010
3:29 pm

We do not need to reform any of the Immigration Laws. We just need legislators and a President that will enforce the present laws. Of course, this would take some backbone which we know there is very little of in DC. I think reform means, “let the illegals from Mexico stay in the United States but make all other countries abide by the present laws and be deported to their home countries. I am sick of hearing the word “undocumented”, call it what it is, ILLEGAL and deport them back to Mexico or whatever country they are from.
Stand up Democrats and Republicans and call and illegal alien and illegal alien and leave it at that. What is all the discussion about. Enforce the laws you are sworn to enforce and leave it at that. Read what your job is Mr. President and follow those guidelines. The same goes for the legislators and courts. It is already in black and white in our countries laws. You are wasting your time and making your home grown citizens feel like the aliens.


July 1st, 2010
3:32 pm

This is why so many people are leaving the Baptist Church.


July 1st, 2010
3:41 pm

Richard Land is right on target. The problem Saxby and Johnny faced with trying to get a bipartisan bill passed under Bush is those like Michael Riley above. Michael and his constituents want nothing to do with trying to do a meaningful reform of the immigration laws. If he had his way we would travel back in time to the “good old days” that never were except in the mythology that develops over time. I can see why Saxby and Johnny caved in. They are politicians not statesmen. Statesmen and women are an extinct species in the modern political scene where if you don’t agree with me you are the enemy and should be squashed, maligned, libeled, or falsely accused. After all if this issue would be settled what would those who don’t want reform have to rail about. So we will limp along because the art of compromise is lost on the concrete thinkers of this world who have difficulty seeing below the surface and/or reading between the lines.


July 1st, 2010
3:52 pm

Mr. Land acted with class. I’m impressed.


July 1st, 2010
4:09 pm

The next time I rob a bank and get caught I want amnesty!!!!!!!! How about my DUI, I want amnesty. And I want my drivers license back since I had no insurance also. I want amnesty. So are felons to have amnesty also? The last time I checked there are legal ways to enter this country just like the Vietnamese gentleman that worked on my car after my undocumented accident.

We all know the problem here, business es and Republicans want cheap labor and pass the social cost to the public with welfare programs, and democrats want votes to stay in office.

Fine the employer and put them in jail not the illegals and the problem will be solved!!!!


July 1st, 2010
4:13 pm

[...] this just inLos Angeles TimesObama pushes immigration reform amid weak supportReutersCBS News -Atlanta Journal Constitution (blog) -ABC Newsall 1,432 news [...]


July 1st, 2010
4:14 pm

“The last time I checked there are legal ways to enter this country ”

Check again. There isn’t an option for someone who simply wants to come and work.


July 1st, 2010
4:15 pm

you speek a spanny?


July 1st, 2010
4:17 pm


What is wrong with wanting criminals punished? When you break a law you should be punished no
matter what the law is……from speeding to murder!

[...] This Time… Jump to Comments Jim Galloway in his Political Insider column on AJC writes about President Obama’s speech immigration given today. But perhaps the [...]


July 1st, 2010
4:24 pm

Dave is right. When employers and ceo’s hire illegals, fine them and jail them.


July 1st, 2010
4:31 pm

Good to know liberals think so highly of Land all of a sudden….


July 1st, 2010
4:49 pm

Obamao: “”In sum, the system is broken and everybody knows it”

The first time we really hear that the Fed Gov has ignored and minimized this problem to the complete detriment and disgust of the American people.

Gee, that may be what AZ graphically realized as its citizens were being murdered while ILLEGALS (not a racial issue – unless you want it to be) and drug lords run at will.

This is more timely political posturing – nothing more. They know a November to Remember is coming.

Here’s the proper perspective on becoming an American:

“In the first place, we should insist that if the immigrant who comes here in good faith becomes an American and assimilates himself to us, he shall be treated on an exact equality with everyone else, for it is an outrage to discriminate against any such man because of creed, or birthplace, or origin. But this is predicated upon the person’s becoming in every facet an American, and nothing but an American…There can be no divided allegiance here. Any man who says he is an American, but something else also, isn’t an American at all. We have room for but one flag, the American flag… We have room for but one language here, and that is the English language.. And we have room for but one sole loyalty and that is a loyalty to the American people.”

~ Theodore Roosevelt 1907


July 1st, 2010
4:59 pm

Dave, nothing wrong with criminals being punished. But I’ll ask you a couple of questions: How do you round up 12 million illegals (criminals in your words)? How much will it cost? Who should pay for the approximately $500 billion + (or more) it will cost? If you say the government you need to specify federal or state. If federal it’s your’s and my tax dollars and remember it has to be paid for without adding to the deficit. Is it criminal to want a better life for your children? Why not have a reform package that includes payment of back taxes, contributions to social security, and some type of fine for entering and living her illegally, and a solid program leading to citizenship. What’s so difficult about that? And when these folks become citizens they pay taxes, social security and FICA and medicare, just like you do. That will immediately change the Social Security equation from 3:1 to maybe 5:1 or more.

Now Dave if you don’t agree let me see your plan and I also want the cost estimate and who pays for that? Fair enough?

dom youngross

July 1st, 2010
5:07 pm

President Obama believes that we can establish rule of law in Afghanistan. But Obama also believes rule of immigration law in the US is… ‘unenforceable.’ And where are those ‘up to’ 12,000 Guard???

The conservative flag-waving ‘Christians’ also seem to have no problem with Afghanistan, even though of all things, proselytizing the Christian religion in that country is an offense punishable by death. So bottom line: They can all join Obama in pounding rock salt, with Baptists leading the way on that.

dom youngross

July 1st, 2010
5:13 pm

You don’t round up 12 million illegals and deport them. If no one will hire them the majority will self-deport.

dom youngross

July 1st, 2010
5:17 pm

1200 Guard, not 12,000.

Peter F

July 1st, 2010
5:20 pm

To the question of how to round up and deport 12 million illegals. Sheriff Joe does a sting once a week at various locations and rounds up about 50 people. Once a week in Phoenix a drop house is discovered packed with 50 illegals. 100 per week in Phoenix by these methods alone. Multiply by 50 or 100 cities across the country we get 5000 a week. That alone will cause most illegals to leave or to go underground. Eventually though the job would be done. I think Obama has said “it isn’t going to be easy”. He is right it will not be easy. He should not shun away from his resposibility and the oath he took upon entering the Office of the Presidency.


July 1st, 2010
5:39 pm

Peter F – “That alone will cause most illegals to leave or to go underground.”
Aren’t they already underground?

I am stunned and impressed by Land’s statement.


July 1st, 2010
5:44 pm

Peter F – You did not finish doing the math. If you get 5,000 per week, it will take over 46 years to catch 12 million, and that assumes that no more arrive. Did you notice the audit reports from the Georgia University system this week? After all the uproar about illegal immigrants in our state Universities, the biggest number they found was 18 at GSU – out of 25,000 students. All of them were paying out of state tuition as required by law, and only 4 were from Mexico or Latin America. All the other universities had much smaller numbers.

I have a major concern. Lets say we round up all 12 million and drop them off on the other side of the border. Who will you turn your hate on then?

Peter F

July 1st, 2010
5:58 pm

@Bill, it is no hate. I lived as a foreigner for 20 years of my life across the worls. I enjoyed all the cultures I was able to interact and absorb. I respected the local laws. I had a visa and I showed it upon request. I had to report to the authorities in several countries when I moved so they could update their records and my visa. We have laws for reasons wanting to follow such a law is not hateful.


July 1st, 2010
6:10 pm

Most Americans strongly support better border patrol. So do I.

That doesn’t mean the majority of Americans want to start deporting “illegals.” By a wide margin Americans want those that are here illegally to be given a path to citizenship and do not want them deported. Every single poll conducted on this subject finds wide spread support for this path.

The latest is an ABC/Washington Post poll conducted 6/3-6/10 that shows 57% support a path to citizenship with 40% opposed and 3% undecided.

Peter F is just another out of touch Obama hater that thinks his view represents 99% of the country. We are not going to deport millions of illegal immigrants.


July 1st, 2010
6:21 pm

Peter F – My apologies if I reacted too strongly, and thank you for bringing the rhetoric down a notch. I should not assume that you are motivated by hatred. However, I do not know what else can explain much of the vitriol that comes from the anti-immigrant posters.

Paddy O

July 1st, 2010
6:43 pm

Bill – you know that the illegals are here working, yes? That drives down real wages. We also know a whole lot of these illegals are also participating in other illegal activity – like the girl at Kennesaw – she had no license to drive here. If you effectively seal the border, make it a felony punishable by a minimum $10,000 fine and 6 months in jail, most employers will stop hiring the illegals. What are they going to do then? Stay and drink Bud? Or go home?

You also need to realize how much $$$ these people send out of our country, which is also detrimental to our economy – just like buying foreign cars and imported oil drains us. I personally would like to see an Ellis Island in San Antonio where immigrants could come in, pledge to become citizens and then go through the process – learn english, US history, customs. The process would have to be completed in a maximum of 36 months, prefer 18 months. Most Mexicans I have met a hard working class folks – but why does Mexico have no value for them?

Paddy O

July 1st, 2010
6:44 pm

Sorry, make it a felony to hire an illegal.

Clay R

July 1st, 2010
7:29 pm

President Obama once again misrepresented Arizona’s new law, SB 1070. He stated that it would allow police to stop and question an individual simply because of the color of his skin. That is not a true statement and he has either not read the 16 page document, or he is purposefully misstating the facts.


July 1st, 2010
7:54 pm

I am still looking for someone to give an estimate of the cost of rounding up all the illegals. And no one has addressed who will pay (redundant question – tax payers will – same tax payers who want no more taxes). And no one has come up with any alternative other than a round-up, just like they do in the movies. OOOPs forgot, for some the movies is the real thing.


July 1st, 2010
7:55 pm

addendum to my 7:54 post. Paying for the roundup without increasing the federal deficit.


July 1st, 2010
7:58 pm

Bill, this witch hunt reminds me of the voter fraud thing. We have a lot of Republican legislators who are afraid that voter fraud is rampant but they can’t offer us even one specific case. Paranoia sends people off the deep end.


July 1st, 2010
7:59 pm

Clay R, and how many white people will be stopped and asked to prove their citizenship?


July 1st, 2010
8:13 pm

[...] Immigration SystemNew York TimesSouthern California — this just inLos Angeles TimesAtlanta Journal Constitution (blog) -ABC News -msnbc.comall 1,638 news [...]


July 1st, 2010
9:18 pm

A lot of these illegal aliens have college degrees who can be a very strong asset if given a chance in the work industry. i believe in amnesty espc. for those who are married to american citizens for love and are trying to start a family. illegal aliens are very rampant and to put so much effort on persecuting them will just cost america big time, so why not just document them and make them pay? besides, c’mon americans get real! who would mow your lawn? who would farm the fields? we need them as well as they need us – with an exemption of those ‘useless’ of course, you all know what i mean.


July 1st, 2010
9:55 pm

You make a good case for comprehensive reform.

Vickie King

July 2nd, 2010
12:57 am

John Oxendine is still an abomination.The apple doesn’t fall far from the tree. He was taught well. I guess as long as you have money, and power , and influence, it doesn’t matter how many little people you step on to get there.Things like Insurance fraud,money laundering,pay offs and lies. Things that are illegal are just covered up, aren’t they, John ?You’ve stepped on one too many this time.The Lord Doesn’t Love Ugly; and you’ve been ugly,haven’t you John ? I’ll be praying for you !! Bones eventually get dug up !!

Logic 05

July 2nd, 2010
6:26 am

Why do we have to have “comprehensive immigration reform” first?
Why can’t we secure the borders first?
“Comprehensive Immigration Reform” is code for amnesty.
If your basement is leaking water you don’t talk about renovations to the basement…first you plug the leak. The same applies to immigration.
This is merely pandering to Hispanics.
Secure the borders.


July 2nd, 2010
10:38 am

Obama is truly a statesman and a problem-solver. Therefore he will probably not be re-elected and this country will continue it’s slide into ungovernability and chaos. He was handed the Titanic after it hit the iceberg and is now vilified mercilessly by the nihilistic right wing because he is making a righteous effort to save it. But perhaps, just perhaps, there are still honest, reasonable conservatives willing to acknowledge his good faith and work with him. If not, we will hopelessly paralyzed as a country.


July 2nd, 2010
11:49 am

Logic 05, why does it have to be “either/or”, why not “both/and” or are the adults of today not able to multitask like our kids can? I will submit that “either/or” leads to where we are now: nowhere, standoff, no solution. If you want something different you have to try something different or else you are stuck where you are.

Plain and simple truth

July 2nd, 2010
2:36 pm

Nice to see real Christianity rearing its head.


July 2nd, 2010
2:53 pm

If Illegals pay taxes, I want them to be here. My dad was an illegal and always paid taxes and then he married my mom – married 40+ years and hope for more for them.

But 90% of Illegal Aliens do not pay taxes and Will Not if they become citizens bc of our ARCANE and Corrupt Tax System.

Fire Eater

July 4th, 2010
12:32 pm

Professional Holy Men need to be cordially invited to BUTT OUT of politics…Big churches are one of the main reasons for the flood of third world immigrants and so-called “refugees” from pestholes like Haiti and Somalia. If I found myself attending a church that supports the third world invasion of America I would immediately change my affiliation to one where God expressly condemns this menace.

There are ‘net rumors that Comrade Obama intends to offer illegal alien amnesty through Executive Decree rather than through the legislative process. Vitally-needed Democratic reinforcements will be sworn in as citizens and voters in time to halt the expected MASS PURGE of Congress this November.

Correcting the lies of liberals and other pro-immigration enthusiasts would be a full-time job. I have noticed that all of the tired old cliches about “they do jobs that Americans won’t do” or that “they are only here to work” have been cast aside, replaced with threats of both electoral and violent criminal retaliation against their opponents. Mexico is a BAD NEIGHBOR at best and an ENEMY NATION at worst.

I told several Republican office seekers that Georgia could roll out the unwelcome mat for undesirable immigrants with a new state law banning “primitive practices”, i.e. voodoo, burkhas, sharia, tribal warfare (”gangs”) and other quaint and colorful practices of AMERICANS REPLACEMENTS. Let the Donkey Party go on record condemning this law as they have the Arizona measure.



July 5th, 2010
11:47 am

If you think our state’s economy is suffering right now, just wait until you deport all of the undocumented (illegal) workers. Some of Georgia’s chief agricultural industries (poultry, produce, etc.) would be slammed to the mat. If a poultry processing plant must pay a “real” American $10-$12/hour, as opposed to paying an undocumented worker $7.25 – $9/hour, profits go bye-bye all of the sudden. Why won’t Southern Republicans tackle this issue? Because, as usual, big business has a hand in their back pockets. It’s the same old Republican strategy – fan the racial flame, blame progressives for proposing solutions which amount to “amnesty” and/or “meaningless reform,” and then do NOTHING about the issue when it’s your turn (FYI – their “turn” lasted 8 years under GW – if they really wanted something to happen, it would have happened then). Do you honestly think Chambliss and Isackson want to deport illegals en masse and face the wrath of the Georgia agribusiness lobby? No, the status quo allows them to profit from the available political rhetoric, blame the other side of the aisle, and continue to allow a steady flow of cheap labor to fuel one of the state’s most important industries. As the guy on the Lenox Financial radio commercials says: “It’s the biggest no-brainer in the history of Earth.”

Fire Eater

July 6th, 2010
4:26 am

Mass deportation is a “win-win” for all Americans except probably those who own chicken plants, carpet mills, fast food dives or seek to deploy them as voters in the nest election. The economy would BENEFIT by their departure with the “magic of the free market” raising wages in the industries so affected. An unlimited pool of unskilled labor undermines wages for all Americans.

Illegal immigrant labor could accurately be described as a form of “corporate welfare” since taxpayers subsidize this menace through mandated “services” such as health care, education, welfare and incarceration.

Republicans should be judged on their actions not words on immigration. Everyone “opposes illegal immigration.” Why not a moratorium on LEGAL immigration? Republican candidates for office should plainly link mass unemployment to mass third-world immigration.

I guess our US Senators would rather get a few sleazy businessmen angry over immigration policy than the masses of voters. Maybe the promise of a prison cell for importing illegals would quiet them a bit.

Arizona’s Jan Brewer has shown us the way.

No Excuses - GA

July 6th, 2010
1:08 pm

For those who think illegal immigrants make “below prevailing wages”, I have a surprise for you. I’ve worked in several food processing industries where illegals were rampant. They make the SAME wage as all others. The biggest difference was that they claim Married + 9 dependents so they don’t have to pay taxes. I’ve seen paychecks with a .50 deduction weekly–that equates to $26/yr. in federal taxes. Come on, having that many dependents at 25 years old is difficult. Yes, they pay social security, as does the employer. If they become legal, they just might get that money credited toward their retirement.

Whatever happened to the felony charge for identity theft? I’ve seen my share of the workers having to leave for other employment when the SSA letter arrives questioning their simultaneous employment in CA. What about the person having to clear their name with IRS on this issue? Being here illegally obviously creates illegal actions, as I’ve stated above.

In addition, there’s the welfare, WIC, housing subsidies, county services, educational and health expenses monies (and they won’t buy into the co. health plan so they can have more money to send back to their home country.)

And still the 12 million illegals number keeps coming up —- try using more like 35 – 40 million of them, and they’re multiplying daily. The clause (or amendment) set up for making those born here automatically U. S. citizens was originally for the purpose of those entering through Ellis Island LEGALLY.