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processing times by the end of 2009. \(Some types of visa applications are Immigrant advocates argue the steep increases will keep many people in the shadows. Joseph Vail, director of the immigration clinic at the University of Houston, wrote to CIS that, “Drastically enhanced fees, coupled with restrictions on fee waivers, will force many hardworking immigrants into undocumented status.” Vail points to the 155 percent increasefrom $395 to $1,010in the permanent-resident application fee as particularly harsh on low-income immigrants. \(For those with permanent legal status seeking citizenship, the price tag One perverse effect of making legal immigration more onerous may be to encourage illegal immigration. Leslie Helmcamp, with Catholic Charities of Central Texas, describes a recent trip she made to Altar, Mexico, across the border from Arizona’s perilous Sonoran Desert. “The people I talked to were risking their lives because they couldn’t stand being away from their family any longer,” she said. “The cost of immigration has made it impossible for a lawful permanent resident to bring their whole family over at once.” Facing a minimum wait of seven years for a visa, not to mention thousands in processing and attorney fees, many immigrants blow off the system, hire a coyote, and hit the desert instead. Joining immigrants and their advocates in criticizing the fees are others invested in legal migration: businesses that rely on foreign labor, university liaisons for international students, families adopting children from abroad, and arts organizations that bring touring dancers, theater companies, and musicians to the U.S. Many have called on Congress to replace the fee-based system with congressional appropriations. STRAIGHT TALK The Baptists’ new point man on homosexual outreach wants to tone down the hellfire and damnation talk toward gays and lesbians. Appointed in June as the Southern Baptists’ national strategist for gender issues, Bob Stith is advocating a “passionate, redemptive ministry to homosexuals.” A pastor from Southlake, near Dallas, Stith was an inveterate gaybasher until he came out in 1995 with a softer stance. “God spoke to me and broke my heart … and made me realize how wrong I was,” he said. Don’t expect Stith to be flying a rainbow flag anytime soon, though. Stith endorses the Southern Baptist Convention’s belief that the Bible condemns homosexuality as “a sin.” Instead, he wants to convert gays and lesbians to the straight and narrow. “We need to say to people there is a way out without beating them over the head with a Bible or attacking them,” Stith said recently. Stith plans to seed the redemption model into churches, creating homosexual outreach ministries across the country. His post is funded by LifeWay Christian Resources, the Baptists’ publishing house and the largest Christian retailer and publisher in the nation, with $433 million in revenue in 2005. If experience is any indication, the redemption model won’t amount to much more than broken lives and wasted effort. The so-called “ex-gay” movement, led by groups such as Exodus International and Arlington-based Living Hope Ministry, has long pushed sexual reori entation therapy, an intense, Biblebacked process of teaching gays and lesbians to tame their desires and live as heterosexuals. Gay rights advocates have derided the therapy, which sadly targets individuals torn between faith and identity. The psychological mainstream regards it as ludicrous at best and damaging at worst. “The scriptures command love especially for those least powerful and misunderstood and the American Psychiatric Association has pronounced ex-gay therapies dangerous,” said Miguel De La Torre. associate professor of Social Ethics at the lliff School of Theology in Denver There is little empirical evidence that the “therapy” works. Many graduates bounce in and out of the closet faster than you can say “Ted Haggard,” leading to the coinage of the term “ex-exgay” to describe backsliders. Recently three former leaders of Exodus \(“freedom from homosexuality through the gized for the harm they had brought to gay Christians and renounced the ex-gay movement. All three said they knew people who had failed at the therapy and become depressed or even suicidal, according to the Los Angeles Times. JULY 13, 2007 THE TEXAS OBSERVER 5