Leaders from a variety of religious faiths are urging state legislators to reject a bill which seeks to curb illegal immigration. The bill would require all who apply for a job in Iowa to show a valid photo I.D.
Rev. Rich Pleva of the United Church of Christ spoke at a statehouse news conference on Wednesday. "I stand before you today as a Christian and whether my fellow Christians take time to stop and think about it or not, there are few Biblical teachings more repeated in both the Old and New Testaments than that of hospitality for the stranger, for aliens, for immigrants," Pleva said.
Pleva leads the Iowa Conference of the United Church of Christ. "Let us never forget that the people whose lives our laws will impact are people just like us and our ancestors, people with similar hopes and aspirations," Pleva said.
Ahmed Elkhaldy, a Muslim Imam who is the spiritual leader of the mosque in Cedar Rapids, said as an immigrant himself he feels a moral obligation to stand by others who’ve had to flee their home countries. "America is the community that God wanted or meant for us to be," he said, "a community of many nations and tribes, a community of many cultures, a community that has social and political fabric that shows the strength because of its diversity."
Rabbi David Kaufman of the Temple B’Nai Jeshurun in Des Moines said Jews are reminded during Passover to remember the stranger, because everyone has been a stranger at one point in their life. "There are far too many people in Jewish history alone because countries that could have welcomed them in and provided them security did not," Kaufman said.
Supporters of the bill say its real target is businesses that knowingly hire illegal immigrants. Under the proposal, employers who knowingly hire an illegal immigrant could be charged with perjury — which is a felony that could land them in jail for up to five years. They’d also be assessed a fine as high as $7500.