PHILADELPHIA, June 11, 2013 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- The Reverend Luis Cortes, Jr., leader of a major group of U.S. Hispanic clergy, urged federal lawmakers to find "common ground" as they move forward in both houses of Congress on immigration reform legislation.
Rev. Cortes, founder and president of Esperanza, the nation's premier Hispanic faith-based organization, said: "Congress has a historic opportunity to finally address our immigration crisis."
"The Senate bill is not perfect, but it provides a reasonable path to legal status for approximately 11 million undocumented immigrants while improving the security of our borders. I urge the House to work on a similar track so that meaningful legislation can be enacted this year," he said.
Rev. Cortes participated on the immigration and general Hispanic advisory committees to both Presidents George W. Bush and Barack Obama. As president of Esperanza, Cortes has provided testimony on three occasions at U.S. Senate and House Judiciary Committee hearings on the topic of immigration reform.
"It's been nearly three decades since our country has had any major immigration reform," said Rev. Cortes. "We need real leadership right now – leaders who will put politics aside and push this bill forward."
The final vote in the Senate will likely occur before Senators leave for their Fourth of July break. For the bill to pass the Senate and move along to the House, it would require 60 votes. Currently, there are 54 senators in the Democratic caucus, including two independents, and 45 Republicans.
On June 18-20, 2013, Esperanza will host its National Hispanic Prayer Breakfast and Conference, one of the largest gatherings of Hispanic clergy and community leaders in the nation, in Washington, D.C. to discuss U.S. immigration policy and other topics. Invited guests include the President of the United States, Democratic and Republican elected and party officials, and corporate, academic, and faith leaders from across the nation, among others.
Said Rev. Cortes, "In just one week, Hispanics from across the country will gather together to pray and listen to today's top leaders on immigration and other key issues. We look forward to meeting our legislative and executive leaders as we urge lawmakers on both sides of the aisle to address these urgent challenges facing our country."
Esperanza is a member of The Evangelical Immigration Table, a group of Christian leaders and pastors who have lobbied for an immigration reform package that includes a pathway to citizenship. Earlier this year, the group launched a radio campaign in four states that ran ads advocating for a "biblical approach" to the issue. Earlier this year, Rev. Cortes delivered the invocation prayer during President Barack Obama's 2013 Inaugural Luncheon on Capitol Hill.
Confirmed speakers for this year's conference include: Chairman of the Republican National Committee, Reince Priebus; Chairwoman of the Democratic National Committee, Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D-FL); Congresswoman Barbara Lee (D-CA); Congressman Steve Southerland (R-FL); TV personality Myrka Dellanos; actor and education activist, Tony Plana; Marcos Witt, five-time Latin Grammy Award-winning Christian singer (who will emcee the National Prayer Breakfast), and many others.
Past speakers include President Barack Obama; then-President George W. Bush; then-Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton (NY), and others. The conference will also feature entertainment by multi-award winning gospel singers and musicians.
To learn more or to register, visit: esperanzanhpb.com.