Cracking Down on Immigration or Religious Liberty?

(Photo by Jessica Rinaldi/The Boston Globe via Getty Images)

Jody Ray’s pastoral ministry to refugees and immigrants sometimes puts him at odds with members of his conservative community in Jacksonville, Florida. But so far, he’s not found himself at odds with the law.

A new immigration bill under consideration in the Sunshine State would change that and is generating pushback from some evangelicals in the process.

Senate Bill 1718 cracks down on businesses relying on illegal labor, requires hospitals to ask about patients’ citizenship status, and invalidates out-of-state driver’s licenses issued to illegal immigrants among other actions.

But it’s the sweeping bill’s transportation provision that Ray and a group of church leaders say has troubling religious liberty implications. It would make it a crime for anyone to transport illegal immigrants in the state for any reason. At a press conference hosted by the refugee organization World Relief and the Evangelical Immigration Table last week, the coalition said that the changes would prevent religious groups from following their faith in ministering to groups in need.

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