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Opportunity for Undocumented to Earn Citizenship Earns Majority Support among Evangelicals

WASHINGTON, D.C., APRIL 1, 2016 — Despite heated political rhetoric, a majority of evangelicals across ethnic groups support the opportunity for undocumented immigrants to earn citizenship — including white evangelicals, a new survey finds.
The data from the Public Religion Research Institute (PRRI) show that 54 percent of white evangelicals support the opportunity for undocumented immigrants to earn citizenship and another 12 percent support allowing earned permanent legal status. Only 30 percent support identifying and deporting undocumented immigrants.
Other surveys have shown even stronger support among evangelicals overall. About a quarter of evangelicals are not white, according to Pew Research.
Additional PRRI data show that although many are concerned about how immigrants affect “traditional American customs and values,” 55 percent of younger evangelicals believe that immigrants strengthen society.
“We are encouraged by this new research from PRRI that shows the majority of evangelicals support a path toward legal status or citizenship. The growing number of evangelicals who believe we should continue to be a country that welcomes immigrants is a clarion call at a crucial time in our nation,” said Stephan Bauman, President of World Relief.
“While there may be differences over policy details, evangelicals agree that the Bible calls us to treat immigrants with respect and compassion,” said Galen Carey, Vice President of Government Relations for the National Association of Evangelicals. “Thankfully, a majority of evangelicals of all ethnic backgrounds now embrace commonsense reforms allowing law-abiding immigrants to earn legal status and/or citizenship. We ask our political leaders to do the same.”
“I’m not surprised by these findings. Evangelicalism emphasizes God's grace and mercy,” said Barrett Duke, Vice President for Public Policy and Research at the Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission of the Southern Baptist Convention. “Evangelicals are simply seeking to do for others what God has done for them. We must continue to point people of faith to the Scriptures. God is changing hearts and minds.”
“It is heartening but not surprising to me that younger evangelicals are receptive toward immigrants,” said Shirley V. Hoogstra, President of the Council for Christian Colleges & Universities. “On our campuses, love for our neighbors from around the world is a central value. This biblical value offers hope for just immigration solutions.”
“When people look to the Bible for wisdom on this complex topic, there is little room for ambiguity. The Scriptures compel us to love, welcome, and seek justice for immigrants,” said the Rev. Samuel Rodriguez, President of the National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference.  

This and other Evangelical Perspectives on Immigration represent one evangelical perspective on immigration—that of the author—and not necessarily the views of every member organization of the Evangelical Immigration Table or every signatory of the Evangelical Statement of Principles for Immigration Reform.  

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