Senate Democrats

REID SPEAKS OF VALUES UNDERLYING IMMIGRATION POLICY

Washington, DCSenate Democratic Leader Harry Reid today delivered the following remarks at the National Hispanic Prayer Breakfast.

Senator Reid’s remarks, as prepared, follow below.

Senate Democratic Leader Harry Reid Speech at the National Hispanic Prayer Breakfast

June 8, 2006

This morning, I would like to begin with a story we are all familiar with. It’s from First Samuel. The story of David and Goliath.

The scene is a valley, where two great armies – the Israelites and the Philistines – are posturing for war.

The characters are Goliath the Philistine, and David the Israelite.

Goliath, as the Bible tells us, is a nine-foot giant, armed with a spear and shield. For the last 40 days, he has been challenging any Israelite to come forward and fight. The loser’s side will become the winner’s slaves.

David is Goliath’s opposite. He’s a small shepherd boy sent to the valley to deliver food to his brothers. But once he arrives in the Israelite camp, David does something no one else in Saul’s army would do. He volunteers to fight Goliath.

Even more shocking, the shepherd boy doesn’t want any armor. Nor he does he want any weapons. He only wants the simple tools in his possession – a sling, a few stones and his unwavering faith in God.

It is with these modest tools that David slays the Giant.

This morning, I believe the story of David teaches us a powerful lesson about being unafraid to tackle the challenges in our lives.

BUT I want to take the lesson of David one step further, and consider it in the light of David’s greatest descendant, Jesus Christ.

If David taught us how to slay Giants – with our faith in God… unafraid… and using the weapons we have – Christ showed us the Giants we must fight.

Consider this verse from the New Testament. Matthew, Chapter 25, verses 35-36.

“For I was an hungred, and ye gave me meat: I was thirsty, and ye gave me drink: I was a stranger, and ye took me in:

“Naked, and ye clothed me: I was sick, and ye visited me: I was in prison, and ye came unto me.:

In this passage, Jesus points to the Giants we face – hunger, sickness, homelessness, injustice and inequality – and he compels us to slay these Goliaths, saying:

“Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these, my brethren, ye have done it unto me.” [Matthew, 25:40]

Today, I’m proud to be in a room of Davids.

Each of you has fearlessly confronted the Goliaths in your communities – poverty, homelessness, AIDS. And worked to defeat them with your simple, but deadly tools – faith, love and good works.

In Washington, we have been fighting Giants of our own, and one of them has been particularly hard to slay – - the Giant of Fear.

In the last few months, I have had the opportunity to visit with faith leaders about the issue of immigration. We’ve talked specifically about the key differences between legislation in the United States Senate and the House of Representatives.

In the Senate, we have a comprehensive reform bill. It is not perfect, but it protects our country and recognizes the value immigrants bring to our communities by giving them a pathway to earned citizenship.

In the House, they have taken a very different approach. They shut the door on our neighbors… offer no opportunities for legalization…. and make felons out of those – - like you – - who serve our brothers and sisters in Christ.

Only time will tell if this difference between the House and Senate can be worked out. This morning, we should pray for the Davids in Washington who can still slay the Giant of Fear, whether they are Conferees acting on the courage of their convictions, or the President using the power of his pulpit and his veto pen.

America must not turn its back on the strangers in our midst, and we certainly cannot criminalize those who would offer help. It goes against what Christ taught us. As he says in Mark:

“Whosoever will be great among you, shall be your minister.” [Mark, 10:43]

This morning, we are brought together by our faith. We share a calling to slay the Giants in our country. Together, let us take on the challenges of:

– 46 million without health care, including 1 in 3 Hispanics.

– 36 million who live in poverty.

– The stress mankind has placed on God’s Creation.

– And the stress of war and hate mankind has placed on itself.

Whether we are a lowly shepherd like David or a king like Saul, these challenges must remain the targets of our sling.

With our faith in God and commitment to good works, we will not miss.

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