Topeka — Three Protestant bishops Monday called on Kansans to reject "demagoguery" in the current debate over illegal immigration.
The letter from the bishops was distributed as Kansas lawmakers consider proposals that supporters say will slow down illegal immigration.
Bishop Scott Jameson Jones, of the United Methodist Church, Kansas area; the Rev. Gerald Mansholt, bishop of the Central States Synod, the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America; and the Rt. Rev. Dean E. Wolfe, bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Kansas - urged compassion for illegal immigrants.
The bishops said illegal immigrants are benefiting the economy of the United States, which depends on their labor.
"The laws we have do not reflect the demographic and economic reality of our country," they said.
"We as Bishops, in ministry, call upon all our parishioners and all Kansans to reject demagoguery that is spreading its own kind of fear and terror," they said. "We insist on a more hopeful vision, for our state and nation."
Their letter includes references to the Bible to protect and respect those who are different, including undocumented workers and their families.
The bishops make no specific reference to current proposals before the Legislature.
Some of those include making it illegal for employers to knowingly hire illegal immigrants and requiring them to use E-Verify, a federal database to check whether a person has a valid Social Security number. In addition, some lawmakers are pushing for repeal of a 2004 law allowing some illegal immigrants to pay in-state tuition rates.