Cover Story

Not so 'grand' a bargain

"Not so 'grand' a bargain" Continued...

Issue: "Crossing borders," June 23, 2007

Fellow conservatives in the Kyl camp accuse their conservative opponents of trying to score political points at the expense of meaningful progress on immigration. Some Democrats may be playing political games, too. Sen. Reid blamed the bill's initial stall in the Senate on a lack of leadership from President Bush, suggesting next day headlines should declare, "The president fails again."

But Bush is not finished fighting. He challenged lawmakers last week that the time for immigration reform is now. Many political analysts agree, noting the near impossibility of tackling sticky issues once election season reaches full tilt.

Some Republicans fear that allowing the immigration debate to stretch out to the 2008 presidential election could foster disastrous results in splitting the GOP's conservative base. Indeed, the issue has proved uniquely divisive within groups typically unified around a conservative vision. Many evangelicals are unsure how to balance biblical principles of hospitality and justice in such a complicated debate.

Griswold, himself an evangelical, contends that the law should afford illegal immigrants room for redemption: "There's the letter of the law, but there's also mercy. These people have not committed an inherently criminal act. To cross an international border, to fill a job that's waiting, to help support your family, that's not an inherently criminal act-or else we've all descended from criminals."

Pragmatics aside, such compassion is bound to resonate with many evangelicals. But Neha Shah and her son Ritvik need room for redemption, too.

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