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Evangelical Leaders to DHS: Extend Temporary Protected Status

 

WASHINGTON, D.C. — Today Evangelical Immigration Table leaders sent a letter to the Department of Homeland Security calling for the extension of the Temporary Protected Status (TPS) designation for Honduras, Nicaragua, Haiti and El Salvador.

Ahead of a Sunday TPS extension deadline for Honduras and Nicaragua and with the other countries’ deadlines looming, signatories are asking DHS to give Congress time, via an extension, to reform the TPS program and provide a long-term solution.

The following are quotes from Evangelical Immigration Table principals:

Leith Anderson, President, National Association of Evangelicals:
“Jesus celebrated the Good Samaritan for giving temporary protected status to a stranger who was in life-threatening circumstances without help. Extending TPS to those America has protected in the past helps make the USA into a Good Samaritan country.”

Scott Arbeiter, President, World Relief:
“As World Relief and our partner churches serve immigrants in communities throughout the U.S., we have had the opportunity to help many Central American and Haitian individuals to apply for and to renew their TPS status. We have seen the profound difference that this access to work authorization and protection from deportation has made in their lives, and the ways that they in turn have contributed back to their churches and communities. At the same time, as we partner with local churches outside of the U.S., we witness firsthand the tenuous situation that many of these countries are in, which could be further destabilized if TPS were to be withdrawn now. I’m praying both that Congress will act to permanently resolve this situation and that the Department of Homeland Security will renew these designations in the meantime.”

Shirley V. Hoogstra, President, Council for Christian Colleges and Universities:
“In the wake of unimaginable natural and human disasters that rendered their countries of origin unsafe, individuals with Temporary Protected Status have put down roots here. They have contributed to, and continue to contribute to, our society by forming families and strengthening our economy as students, workers, entrepreneurs and consumers. Extending Temporary Protected Status is the right thing to do for both the American economy and for American families.”

Hyepin Im, CEO, Korean Christian Community Development/Faith and Community Empowerment:
“Much like in the situation of the Dreamers who have benefitted from the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program and now risk losing work authorization and becoming vulnerable to deportation, individuals who have been granted TPS have acted in good faith at the invitation of the federal government, paying fees, passing multiple criminal background checks, and working to provide for their families. In my state of California alone, there are more than 50,000 individuals with TPS, and to withdraw that status now would harm not only them, but the communities of which they are a part.”

Jo Anne Lyon, Ambassador, General Superintendent Emerita, The Wesleyan Church:
“Throughout the Bible, God makes very clear that He cares for vulnerable immigrants — and He commands His people to do the same. I’m grateful that our country offered protections to the roughly 300,000 individuals who presently benefit from TPS when their respective countries faced humanitarian catastrophes. Even though many years have passed since those initial designations, each of these countries has faced additional challenges more recently: El Salvador and Honduras have among the highest murder rates in the world, and Nicaragua and Haiti, the two poorest countries in the Western Hemisphere, have recently been hit by serious hurricanes. To send so many people back to these situations right now would be inhumane, and I hope our government will make a way for these individuals to continue to live and work lawfully within the United States.”

Dr. Russell Moore, President, Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission of the Southern Baptist Convention:
“It is not in the best interest of a society to separate families, or to force them into volatile situations. And yet, fears of such are exactly what many immigrants who have been granted TPS feel — men and women who have come forward by invitation of our government, obeyed the law, and contributed much to our churches and society. It’s no secret that our immigration system is broken and that reforms are needed. I’m eager to work with Congress to work toward needed change that would balance security and compassion. But in the meantime, I very much hope Acting Secretary Duke will renew TPS for these individuals.”

Rev. Samuel Rodriguez, President, National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference:
“The tens of thousands of congregations that make up the NHCLC include many, many individuals whose lives and livelihoods depend upon having been granted TPS. These are individuals who have passed repeated background checks, who have provided for themselves and their families, and who are vital parts of the Church in the United States. Given the harsh conditions that persist in their countries of origin, now is not the time to withdraw TPS.”

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Evangelical Letters of Support for Dreamers Draw 3,450 Signatories

Signers Hail from All 50 States and Washington, D.C.

WASHINGTON, D.C. — Thousands throughout the country agree: We need workable solutions for Dreamers in our churches and communities.

More than 3,450 pastors and evangelical leaders representing every state now have signed on to letters urging the Trump administration and members of Congress to protect Dreamers.

Leaders of the Evangelical Immigration Table initially signed the letters to the president, House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wisconsin) and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Kentucky) to push for a legislative solution to protect Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) recipients.

“We hope that you will work to find solutions that allow these young people to stay in our country long-term and continue to be a blessing to our communities,” they wrote. “Now is the time for bold leadership and action.”

The following are new quotes from notable signatories. Additional quotes are available here and here.

Felix Cabrera, Lead Pastor, Iglesia Bautista Central, Oklahoma City:
“Miles de nuestras iglesias en la Convención Bautista del Sur están llenas de maravillosos jóvenes que el único país que conocen es Estados Unidos de América. Sus padres los trajeron aquí cuando eran niños. Ellos no escogieron ni decidieron venir aquí, nadie les preguntó. Sin embargo, en este país se asimilaron, aprendieron el idioma, fueron a la escuela, están en la universidad y muchos se graduaron de ella y son profesionales. La inmensa mayoría están trabajando y aportando a nuestra economía y un grupo considerable pone en riesgo su vida todos los días en el ejército de los Estados Unidos, gracias al DACA.

“Ruego al Señor que los congresistas hagan lo correcto y de una vez y por todas presenten legislación para que a estos jóvenes americanos su sueño se les haga realidad.”

Joseph Castleberry, Ed.D., President, Northwest University, Kirkland, Washington:
“In its greatest moments, America has never prized a narrow, legalistic reading of laws over achieving justice. In the case of Dreamers, a bipartisan majority clearly believes justice calls for the triumph of mercy over judgment. By passing a law that provides permanent protection for Dreamers, we will take a step toward making a bitterly divided America great again.”

Micah Fries, Pastor, Brainerd Baptist Church, Chattanooga, Tennessee:
“I am glad to stand in support of Dreamers. As believers in Christ, Scripture calls us to advocate on behalf of the vulnerable and marginalized. Few are more marginalized than children who did not decide to live here, but now call this their home, and yet are powerless with respect to their citizenship and fearful of being deported to a place they have likely never known as home. We certainly need a better immigration policy in the U.S., but it must begin with a commitment to protect the children who are most vulnerable and who are already among us. The work of protecting the Dreamers necessarily falls to Congress. It is vitally important that Congress works to provide a permanent solution and that they do so in a timely manner.”

D.A. Horton, Pastor, Reach Fellowship, Long Beach, California:
“Congress passing bipartisan legislation for Dreamers to have a direct pathway for citizenship will provide them with holistic comfort in knowing the only nation they’ve ever known and embraced now knows and embraces them as family and will let the on-looking world know that in America, Dreamers are home.”

Dr. Joel C. Hunter, Pastor, Northland Church, and Chairman, Central Florida Commission on Homelessness, Casselberry, Florida:
“The president’s decision on DACA has put the issue exactly where it needs to be: with Congress. We do not need executive orders to deal temporarily with these Dreamers who are a part of our national productivity and potential; we need a permanent legal solution. Congress, please act now to keep these young people in the only country they have known.”

Kim Whetstone, Discipleship Pastor, Parkview Community Church, Glen Ellyn, Illinois:
“Congress must take action immediately to develop compassionate and comprehensive immigration legislation that reflects the nation’s firm belief in the equality of each human being and each individual’s inalienable right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness and protects Dreamers now. If Congress does not act immediately, we risk losing not only a generation of Dreamers, we risk losing the American dream itself.”

Evangelical Leaders Respond to DACA Rescission, Urge Congress to Act

Update: As of Sept. 7, this letter has been signed by more than 3,000 pastors and evangelical leaders from all 50 states and Washington, D.C.

WASHINGTON, D.C. — Evangelical leaders are urging Congress to protect Dreamers following today’s announcement that the Trump administration is rescinding Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA).

These leaders and others had sent letters last week to the president, House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wisconsin) and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Kentucky), to insist that President Trump work with Congress to pass bipartisan legislation to protect Dreamers. Since then, more than 1,000 pastors and evangelical leaders from 46 states have signed on to the letters.

The following are quotes today from Evangelical Immigration Table leaders:

Leith Anderson, President, National Association of Evangelicals:
“Congresses have convened and adjourned from one election cycle to the next while Dreamers have waited. May this Congress step up to legislate for Dreamers and turn waiting into promise and hope.”

Scott Arbeiter, President, World Relief:
“We have a clear and compelling moral obligation to the hundreds of thousands of Dreamers who are here among us. We cannot fail these children and young people nor our national interest yet again. Congress must act. I believe there is bipartisan support for legislation that will put our compassion, wisdom and moral courage into law.”

Shirley V. Hoogstra, President, Council for Christian Colleges and Universities:
“Congress must act. The stakes are high. Extraordinary pressure on Congress and unimaginable consequences for DACA students and families are two motivators that must bring this long-needed and overdue legislation. The American people can hardly stand the current levels of inaction and partisanship. Congress can restore our belief that people matter and that unnecessary penalty to innocent people is not tolerated. While cynicism lurks, every day presents new opportunities to make the laws we need. The CCCU intends to encourage and hold congressional friends and leaders accountable by working side by side with the Evangelical Immigration Table and our other partners in this work.”

Hyepin Im, CEO, Korean Christian Community Development/Faith and Community Empowerment:
“With today’s announcement of rescission of DACA, the lives of more than 800,000 Dreamers are hanging in the balance. They are our youth in whom America has made great investments. Since DACA, many have demonstrated and contributed to the strength of America. We ask Congress to act expeditiously to ensure that these youths continue to contribute to making America the best that it aspires to be.”

Jo Anne Lyon, Ambassador, The Wesleyan Church:
“I am asking Congress to please remember the DACA recipients who are in their own districts. This group of young people is making their districts stronger, but even more our nation stronger through their brilliance, integrity, hard work and loyalty to the United States. They are our leaders in building a strong society now and in the future for the common good of all.”

Dr. Russell Moore, President, Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission of the Southern Baptist Convention:
“Congress should do the right thing and provide a solution for those who were brought here by parents as children. Meanwhile, churches will be here to speak hope to children now thrown into fear and insecurity about their families and their futures.”

Rev. Samuel Rodriguez, President, National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference:
“I am disappointed that these protections are ending, and I’ve expressed that disappointment to the White House directly. … Thankfully, it is the job of Congress to make laws, and now the president has provided Congress a six-month window to legislate a more permanent and legally defensible solution for Dreamers. Six months is too long; we will demand action from Congress within 60 days. We do not intend on letting a single member of Congress have a good night’s rest until they guarantee our young people can rest easy. We will not be silent until every Dreamer can dream again.”

Rev. Tony Suarez, Executive Vice President, National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference:
“The president has put the onus on Congress, and it’s Congress’ responsibility to the American people and Dreamers to finally pass a permanent solution. While I think it would be best to keep DACA in place for the time being, I also understand the frustration of the American people and the White House with Congress’ inability to pass a permanent solution. I implore our elected representatives to solve this issue once and for all.”

300-plus Pastors, Evangelical Leaders Urge Protection of DACA Recipients

Update: As of Sept. 7, this letter has been signed by more than 3,000 pastors and evangelical leaders from all 50 states and Washington, D.C.

WASHINGTON, D.C. — As Americans head to church this Sunday morning, hundreds of pastors from 40 states are urging President Trump to preserve Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) and work with Congress to pass bipartisan legislation to protect Dreamers.

More than 300 pastors and evangelical leaders have signed on to the letters to the president, House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wisconsin) and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Kentucky) that leaders of the Evangelical Immigration Table released late last week.

The following are quotes from pastors and evangelical leaders across the country who signed on to the letters:

Bethany Anderson, Initiative Director, Solidarity, Fullerton, California:
“I signed on to the Evangelical Immigration Table’s letters for Dreamers because I believe Dreamers represent the very best of us. As a community, they embody resilience, courage and hard work, and without Dreamers, my family and community would not be what it is today. If DACA is rescinded and we don’t have a legislative solution in place, we would be abandoning a valuable part of our community, and my faith in Jesus does not allow me to sit by and let that happen. My faith compels me to stand with and amplify the voice of the vulnerable, and I am committed to do that alongside Dreamers.”

Félix Cabrera, Co-Founder, Hispanic Baptist Pastors Alliance, and Lead Pastor, Iglesia Bautista Central, Oklahoma City:
“To end the DACA program now would be immoral, violating the trust of young immigrants, including those within my congregation and many other Hispanic Southern Baptists throughout the country, who trusted the federal government when it asked them to register and provide their personal information. It would also be economically disastrous, forcing the laying off of hundreds of thousands of trained employees, leaving both their employers and the employees in an incredibly difficult spot. It could trigger a domino effect that harms many citizens — as well as the Dreamers and their families — when those who have lost their jobs would struggle to pay rent or a mortgage payment, miss car payments, be forced to withdraw from college or graduate school, and have trouble providing basic food and clothing for their families. Rather than taking another step that will exacerbate ethnic and political divisions in our nation, I pray that President Trump and congressional leaders from both parties will work together to pass legislation to protect Dreamers, and, in the process, help to unify our nation.”

Alan Cross, Missional Strategist, Montgomery Baptist Association, and Executive Director, Community Development Initiatives, Montgomery, Alabama:
“I signed the Evangelical Immigration Table letter to President Trump and congressional leaders because I believe that Dreamers are victims of our broken immigration system, and that biblical justice requires us to speak on behalf of those who are vulnerable and in need of protection. Immigrant Dreamers were brought here at a young age through no fault of their own and have grown up here, graduated from our high schools, work alongside of us and are part of our communities and churches. Many do not even remember their home countries. It would be unjust and immoral to remove their protection and make them subject to deportation. Jesus commands us to love our neighbor sacrificially. Young Dreamers are our neighbors. I call upon Congress to pass legislation that protects Dreamers and provides them an earned pathway to citizenship.”

Micah Fries, Senior Pastor, Brainerd Baptist Church, Chattanooga, Tennessee:
“I am glad to stand in support of Dreamers. As believers in Christ, Scripture calls us to advocate on behalf of the vulnerable and marginalized. Few are more marginalized than children who did not decide to live here, but now call this their home, and yet are powerless with respect to their citizenship and fearful of being deported to a place they have likely never known as home. We certainly need a better immigration policy in the U.S., but it must begin with a commitment to protect the children who are most vulnerable and who are already among us.”

Jim Hollandsworth, Executive Director, The Path Project, Loganville, Georgia:
“I’m a white, southern, evangelical Christian, and I support keeping DACA and working toward a permanent legislative solution for Dreamers. I have many friends who are Dreamers, and they make my community a better place. All they want is the opportunity to go to college and achieve their dreams — just like I did. All they know is America as their home — just like me. I signed the letter to President Trump urging him to keep DACA because I believe it’s important to let our leaders know that most Americans think Dreamers should be able to stay. Our political leaders need to make this happen.”

Joel Hunter, Senior Pastor, Northland Church, Casselberry, Florida:
“I’ve been among many evangelical pastors urging Congress to pass comprehensive immigration reform — and especially a bill such as the DREAM Act that would resolve the situation of those who came to the U.S. as children — for many years. Now there is greater urgency than ever as hundreds of thousands of young people, including many here in Central Florida, are apparently at risk of losing their employment authorization and their protection from deportation. Congress needs to pass legislation to protect these Dreamers as soon as possible, and I’d urge the president to refrain from taking any action on DACA until they do so.”

Lynne Hybels, Advocate for Global Engagement, Willow Creek Community Church, South Barrington, Illinois:
“Our church is deeply invested in serving the immigrant community in the Chicagoland area. We’ve hosted workshops helping dozens of brave young people to apply for the DACA program. We’ve witnessed firsthand the hope that the DACA program has brought to individuals who have wanted nothing more than the chance to pursue an education and lead a productive life, just as our own children have done. To end the program now, without action from Congress first, would be devastating — for them and for the communities that benefit from their work, ingenuity and courage.”

Tyler Johnson, Lead Pastor, Redemption Church, Gilbert, Arizona:
“Followers of Jesus are called to do justly and love mercy. We are to open our mouths for the mute and destitute. Signing these Evangelical Immigration Table letters is saying that we are standing on the side of justice with DACA kids.”

Jason Lee, Baptist minister and Director of the Acts 17 Initiative, Atlanta:
“As a Bible-believing Christian who seeks to obey the call of Christ to love my neighbor, to do justice and love mercy, and stand for the vulnerable, it is clear to me that we must find a way to protect our Dreamer neighbors and find a workable solution so that they may stay in the U.S.

“Dreamers were brought to the U.S. illegally at young ages and are victims of a broken system to no fault of their own. Dreamers need to stay as they are American in every way but the paperwork. Most Dreamers stepped forward in good faith as they became DACA recipients, and we must keep our promise to them, and we must speak and work on their behalf to find a workable solution. I signed the statement for these reasons and am compelled as we cannot act unjustly and deport the American promise that so many Dreamers represent.”

Rich Nathan, Senior Pastor, Vineyard Columbus, Columbus, Ohio:
“Vineyard Columbus has helped hundreds of amazing young people to have a shot at the American Dream because of DACA. Ending DACA would destroy Dreamers’ futures, split their families and tell the world that America no longer strives to be ‘the last best hope’ of the earth.”

Tim Moore, Senior Pastor, Walk Worthy Baptist Church, Austin, Texas:
“Dreamers deserve citizenship, but permanent legal status would be a good start for this Republican Congress. If they can’t do that, they’re likely to default to their historical nativist tendency where good and deserving people were once considered to be ‘mongrelizing’ America with ‘bad genes’ or were too foreign, too Jewish, too Catholic or Orthodox ever to be worthy to assimilate to the American way. Congress, allow these deserving Dreamers to be Americans!”

Matthew Soerens, U.S. Director of Church Mobilization, World Relief, Aurora, Illinois:
“At World Relief, we partner with more than 1,000 local churches across the U.S. to serve immigrants. Many of these local churches have Dreamers who are members of their congregations. We have seen the hope that the DACA program has provided them, allowing them to work lawfully, help support their families, and also serve their churches and communities. To withdraw that status now, before Congress has passed long overdue legislation, would be devastating — for these brave young people and their families, but also for the churches of which they are an integral part. My prayer and my plea to President Trump and to leaders in Congress is that they would work together to find a legislative solution, rather than prematurely terminating the DACA program.”

Joel Tooley, Executive Director, Nazarene Centro de Refugio, Melbourne, Florida:
“As a follower of Jesus, I cannot imagine standing in any other position but that of advocating for those who have been caught up in the fray of an immigration system that holds the vulnerable hostage, gives way for cheaters and lawbreakers to move freely and perpetuates racist, xenophobic rhetoric every time an election draws near. For the cause of Christ, I stand with Dreamers.”

Rondell Treviño, Director of Memphis Immigration Project, and Director of Youth Ministries, Woodland Presbyterian Church, Memphis, Tennessee:
“The recipients of DACA bring great determination and accomplishments, further making the United States a better and more vibrant country. Not only that, but they are a part of churches bringing a faith in Jesus that is refreshing and needed today. Therefore, as a follower of Christ, I felt obligated to sign the Evangelical Immigration Table letter because Dreamers deserve to be protected and viewed as people to love, not problems to solve.”

Chaldean, Evangelical Leaders Cite Dangers of Potential Deportations to Iraq

Click here for a recording of today’s press call.

 

DETROIT — The Trump administration cannot overlook the danger to Chaldean Christians in Iraq and should reconsider deportation plans, faith and security leaders said on a press call today.

Chaldean and evangelical Christian leaders, as well as a former acting director of Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), emphasized the importance of protecting Chaldeans from the persecution and threats they likely would face in Iraq.

A federal judge in Michigan is weighing whether to extend beyond Monday a stay of removal for Iraqis. More than 1,000 Chaldean Christians nationwide have been arrested by ICE agents and are being processed for removal to Iraq, which cannot guarantee their safety.

Today’s call followed a June 19 letter from evangelical leaders calling on the Trump administration to “exercise the discretion available under law to defer the deportation of Chaldeans who pose no threat to U.S. public safety.”

The following are quotes from speakers on today’s call:

Galen Carey, Vice President of Government Relations, National Association of Evangelicals:
“Most of those who have been detained do not present any danger to society. Threatening them with deportation puts them at great risk because of the deterioration of human rights in Iraq. The administration has good reason to exercise discretion: Our law requires that we not return people to places where they would be persecuted.”

Martin Manna, President, Chaldean Community Foundation:
“The Chaldean community here is very concerned about those who have been rounded up for deportation. Iraq cannot guarantee the safety of these Christians and many face persecution and death for their religious beliefs. This is not like deporting Canadians back to Canada. There is no homeland remaining for the Christian community in Iraq because of the ongoing persecution. We implore the administration to stay these removals until such time as Iraq can provide guarantees of safety for these Christians.”

John Sandweg, Former Acting Director, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE):
“The overwhelming majority of this population poses little or no threat to the United States. More important is the outside threat of persecution to this population. The use of discretion in this case is more than appropriate. When you’re talking about 30-year-old nonviolent offenses, in no way, shape or form does it make sense to remove them at this time.”

Matthew Soerens, U.S. Director of Church Mobilization, World Relief, and Co-author, “Seeking Refuge: On the Shores of the Global Refugee Crisis”:
“The situation Christians and other religious minorities in Iraq face right now is very severe. When an individual clearly presents no threat to public safety in the U.S. — but their deportation would be likely to result in them being persecuted, tortured, or even killed — I call on our government to use its discretion not to carry out these deportations.”

David Platt: We’re Called to Serve Immigrants Regardless of Their Legal Status

Relevant Magazine, February 27, 2017

Across this country, it seems everyone is up in arms about immigrants and refugees. Mostly, this is left as a political issue. But for Christians, how to care for outsiders is much more than a policy question.

The gospel not only affects the ways white and black Americans view each other in our culture, or the way we may view people in different countries, but this gospel also affects the way followers of Christ view migrant men and women who are living around us in our country.

A cursory reading of the Old Testament, combined with a clear understanding of Christ’s cross in the New Testament, calls into question the contemporary approach to immigration among many Christians in our culture. In addition to practical ignorance on this issue in the political sphere, our personal lives often reflect little concern for the sojourner in our midst.

Russell Moore writes that the Christian response to immigrant neighbors has been akin to saying, “You kids get off my lawn,” in Spanish. But if the God of the Bible possesses particular compassion for the immigrant, even equating him or her with the orphan and the widow, and if the cross of Christ is designed to compel outreach across ethnic divisions, then how much more should we as the people of God care for immigrants from other countries in our midst?

Consider the story of Sam and Lucas. Sam and Lucas live in Mexico in the midst of desperate poverty, unable to provide for their wives’ and children’s basic needs. One day, a friend tells them that he has found a way for Sam and Lucas to get jobs in the United States. There they can make money and send it back to sustain their families. Sam and Lucas see no other option and agree to go. They say good-bye to their wives and children, and they leave with their friend.

Weeks later, they find themselves lying down in the back of an old SUV, covered completely by a blanket as the truck bounces down the road. Finally, they arrive at a back entrance behind a popular restaurant, where the proud owner steps out. After speaking to the driver in a foreign language, the owner gives him some cash, then opens the back door of the SUV. He uncovers the men and tells Sam and Lucas to get out quickly.

They go inside the back of the restaurant, where the owner sits them down and serves them a quick meal. As they eat, the owner introduces Sam and Lucas to what will be their job: busing tables and washing dishes. After they’re finished eating, the owner escorts them by van to a decaying, shuttered, split-level home that they will share with a host of other workers like them. “I’ll pick you and the others up at 10 a.m.,” the owner says, and off he goes. Sam and Lucas have arrived at their new home.

Sam and Lucas now have a new life. Every day they are shuttled back and forth between the place where they sleep and the restaurant where they work. It is a well-known restaurant, getting all sorts of great reviews and attracting all kinds of different people—people like you and me. But amid all the crowds that surround Sam and Lucas, absolutely no one knows them. No one even notices them. They are destitute, sending as much money as they can back to their families while resorting to alcohol and prostitution to curb their loneliness.

It is not my aim here to stereotype migrant workers—although this story is true, it obviously doesn’t mean that all Latino dishwashers in restaurants have the same story. It is also not my aim to oversimplify either the plight of immigrants in our country or the predicament of how to provide for them. Finally, it’s not my aim here to propose comprehensive political answers for the practical legislative quagmire that illegal immigration presents in our country.

It is, however, my aim to show that the gospel message has implications for the issue of immigration, and particularly for illegal immigrants like Sam and Lucas. Amid necessary political discussions and inevitable personal disagreements, first and foremost the gospel reminds us that when we are talking about immigrants (legal or illegal), we are talking about men and women made in God’s image and pursued by his grace. Consequently, followers of Christ must see immigrants not as problems to be solved but as people to be loved.

The gospel compels us in our culture to decry any and all forms of oppression, exploitation, bigotry or harassment of immigrants, regardless of their legal status. These are men and women for whom Christ died, and their dignity is no greater or lesser than our own.

Likewise, their families are no less important than our own. Many illegal immigrants, like Sam and Lucas, are in the United States for understandable reasons, fleeing brutal economic and political situations in their own countries as they fight for the survival of their own families. Others came to the United States years ago and have now begun families here.

I think of Ricardo, a follower of Christ and the father of five children, three of whom are U.S. citizens. Ricardo entered the country illegally more than 20 years ago, and for the last 20 years he has worked to support his family while serving in his community. However, if Ricardo were to go back to his village in Mexico now, he would be resigning himself and his family to abject poverty.

His other option would be to split up his family, leaving his three “legal” children behind with a neighbor. Surely, just as the gospel compels us to respect the personal dignity of immigrants regardless of their legal status, it also compels us to protect their familial unity regardless of legal status.

All of this is obviously complicated by out-of-date legislation that is out of sync with the current labor market in our country. Add to this our selective enforcement of immigration laws, and it becomes clear to us all, regardless of personal political persuasion, that our system needs reform. And the gospel is not silent even here. The Bible clearly teaches that government exists under God to establish and enforce laws for the good of people. See Romans 13:1-7.

We have a responsibility before God as citizens under a government to work together to establish and enforce just laws that address immigration. Among other things, such laws should involve securing our borders, holding business owners accountable for hiring practices and taking essential steps that ensure fairness to taxpaying citizens of our country.

Likewise, we have a responsibility before God as citizens under a government to work together to refute and remove unjust laws that oppress immigrants. Failing to act in either of these ways would be to settle for injustice, which would put us out of sync with the gospel.

I don’t presume easy answers to any of the above, but I am proposing that the gospel requires Christians to wrestle with these questions. Regardless of personal or political views, none of us can escape the reality that we’re talking about our neighbors, and Jesus’ command regarding our neighbors is clear. As long as immigrants, documented and undocumented, live around us by God’s sovereign design—see Acts 17:26-27, we’re compelled to consider how to love them as we love ourselves—see Luke 10:25-37.

Source: http://archives.relevantmagazine.com/current/global/were-called-serve-immigrants-regardless-their-legal-status

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.  

Southern Baptist Convention Resolution Supports Refugees

ST. LOUIS, JUNE 14, 2016 — The Southern Baptist Convention (SBC) overwhelmingly passed a resolution affirming and encouraging ministry to refugees during its annual meeting Wednesday.

“The SBC affirmed today the image of God in all persons, including Syrian refugees. We as the people of Christ must respond to this crisis with urgency and love. I’m thrilled that the SBC stood up for vulnerable refugees in our communities and around the world,” said Dr. Russell Moore, President of the Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission of the Southern Baptist Convention. The ERLC is a member of the Evangelical Immigration Table.

The SBC, which is the nation’s largest evangelical denomination, last passed a refugee-related resolution in 1985.

“World Relief is grateful for the partnership of Southern Baptist congregations and many other local churches throughout the country to welcome the refugees whom we resettle,” said Stephan Bauman, President of World Relief. “We believe that the biblical mandate for welcoming those fleeing persecution is clear. We see the arrival of refugees as a remarkable opportunity for the Church to live out our faith.”

“Caring for refugees is a wonderful way to share God’s love with people who have escaped unspeakable horrors and who now seek to rebuild their lives in peace and safety,” said Galen Carey, Vice President of Government Relations for the National Association of Evangelicals. “I hope many churches find a way to get involved, and experience the blessings of cross-cultural ministry in their own communities.”

“We stand with the SBC in its support of refugees as they seek safety, freedom, prosperity and community with us,” said Shirley V. Hoogstra, President of the Council for Christian Colleges & Universities. “We are called to support, serve and welcome those who have been displaced from their homes and to work together to encourage their flourishing as well as our own, for that is a true demonstration of the diverse and loving kingdom of God.”

“Thank you to the Southern Baptist Convention for your demonstration of Christian obedience, love and leadership to welcome the refugees and embrace the strangers amongst us especially those who are fleeing from persecution and death,” said Hyepin Im, President of Korean Churches for Community Development. “We need to be the light for those who are suffering in darkness.”

“We commend the SBC for demonstrating prophetic courage and shining the light of truth, love, grace and mercy for refugees fleeing darkness,” said Rev. Dr. Samuel Rodriguez, President of the National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference. “As Bible-believing Christians, we must lead the way in advocacy for the most vulnerable. SBC, thank you for being ‘light.’ ”

“I applaud the Southern Baptist leaders who have urged their churches and members to demonstrate Christ’s love to refugees, perhaps the most unwanted, unwelcome and unloved people in our world,” said Richard Stearns, the President of World Vision U.S. “I’m hopeful that many others will join them by welcoming refugees here and offering humanitarian aid to millions of refugees who have fled elsewhere in their home regions.”

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

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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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Ahead of Texas Primary, Faith Leaders Call for End to Anti-Immigrant Rhetoric

DALLAS, MARCH 1, 2016— Texas evangelical leaders gathered at a press conference Monday to discuss immigration reform and call on the presidential candidates to end the negative conversation surrounding immigrants.

At the Southern Baptists of Texas Convention (SBTC) conference, speakers highlighted the biblical mandate to welcome the stranger and stressed the ineffectuality of anti-immigrant rhetoric.

“Donald Trump’s campaign is built upon sacrificing the best things about America upon the altar of fear,” said Bart Barber, Pastor at First Baptist Church of Farmersville. “From his willingness to abandon two centuries of religious liberty in America by banning Muslim travel into the United States to his proposal to make Christian missionaries to West Africa ‘suffer the consequences’ of their vocations by refusing them re-entry into the United States, Trump has demonstrated a repeated willingness to panic and turn his back upon fellow human beings at the slightest provocation.”

“The SBTC is supporting the Evangelical Immigration Table based on the six biblical principles that encourage a less divisive conversation on immigration reform,” said Gary Ledbetter, Communications Director for the Southern Baptists of Texas Convention.

“It seems to me our new brand of conservatism doesn’t know what to conserve. Conservatism now seems to mean nativism, protectionism, us against them,” said Tim Moore, South Central Mobilizer for the Evangelical Immigration Table. “It has a hostile tone. It divides, and I believe it does the nation no favors in building our collective future. America’s greatest strength is our heritage and ethic of pluralism.”

“Super Tuesday Republicans have a chance today to demonstrate appreciation for immigrant families and their contribution to a brighter and more prosperous America or follow the lead of earlier states drawing a bright white line in the sand that may well deny America ever having another conservative president,” said Pastor Ademir Simoes, Past President, North American Brazilian Baptist Association.

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