Evangelical Leaders Urge Compassionate Response to Vulnerable Children at the Border
WASHINGTON, D.C. — Today, evangelical leaders sent a letter to President Biden, urging the president and his administration to ensure a compassionate response to unaccompanied children apprehended at the U.S.-Mexico border that complies with U.S. law.
“As Christians who seek to emulate Jesus’ particular concern for vulnerable children, we urge you to lead decisively, ensuring that our government respects both the dignity of these children and its obligation to comply with the law and ensure secure borders,” reads the letter, signed by the leaders of the denominations and organizations that lead the Evangelical Immigration Table.
The letter affirms the administration’s decision not to re-implement a policy of expelling unaccompanied children, a practice that was in place throughout most of the past year and which evangelical leaders publicly opposed shortly after it was implemented. Now, however, as the number of unaccompanied children arriving has exceeded existing governmental capacity to process them in compliance with the law, children are being held in unacceptable conditions within the United States. The letter urges the administration to “increase capacity to provide appropriate care for children as quickly as possible, both for those children’s sake and to be able to focus Customs & Border Protection resources on their primary mission of protecting the nation’s borders, not caring for children.”
The leaders also note a variety of additional policy recommendations that they believe could prevent such humanitarian crises for children, which have occurred in each of the past three administrations.
The following are quotes from several of the Evangelical Immigration Table leaders:
Scott Arbeiter, President, World Relief:
“We’re thankful that the Biden administration has halted the practice of expelling unaccompanied children from the country, which too often meant being sent back to situations of violence, trafficking and abuse. Now, it must urgently marshal a response to vulnerable children in the temporary care of the U.S. government that is worthy of a great, compassionate nation. It must further address the dynamics that have led this sort of humanitarian crisis to occur repeatedly over the past decade by addressing the root causes of displacement in Central America and reopening a functional asylum process for families, so as not to unintentionally incentivize desperate parents to send their children alone over the border. We should also expand safe, legal migration opportunities that do not require a dangerous trip to the U.S. border, including through the refugee resettlement program.”
Galen Carey, Vice President for Government Relations, National Association of Evangelicals:
“How should we respond to children who seek our protection from violence, deprivation or abuse? Jesus was clear: ‘Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these’ (Mt. 9:14, Mk. 10:14, Lk. 18:16). We should meet the immediate needs of these kids, while upgrading our legal immigration system and helping our neighbors address the violence, corruption and poverty that drives so many to flee.”
Russell Moore, President, Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission of the Southern Baptist Convention:
“Yet again, the situation at the southern border ought to remind us that unaccompanied migrant children are not a mere problem to be solved. They bear the image of God, and are endowed by him with dignity and worth. Jesus loves them, and so should we. These kinds of problems will persist at our border for as long as our immigration system is allowed to languish in incoherence. A better path forward will require government leaders — both in Congress and the administration — coming together in an honest search for solutions based on long-term strategies. In the meantime, we should do everything we can do, through both Christian ministry and government policy, to help alleviate the suffering of those who are attempting to flee violence in their home countries.”
Chris Palusky, President & CEO, Bethany Christian Services:
“The U.S. government did the right thing when it stopped illegally expelling vulnerable unaccompanied children. Sadly, unstable governments, unsafe communities, and a broken U.S. immigration system are creating yet another humanitarian crisis for children. As Americans, we can and must respond with compassion and practical solutions – This isn’t a political issue; it’s a moral one. We must take care of these children arriving at our border and safely reunite them with their families.”
The Evangelical Immigration Table is a broad coalition of evangelical organizations and leaders advocating for immigration reform consistent with biblical values.