Evangelicals Applaud Day-One Biden Administration Changes to Immigration Policy, Urge Bipartisan Congressional Leadership
WASHINGTON, D.C. — Today, within hours of his inauguration, President Joe Biden signed several executive actions related to immigration and proposed an immigration reform bill for the consideration by the U.S. Congress. The leadership of the Evangelical Immigration Table (the Table) celebrates this positive momentum, while urging both the Biden administration and the Congress to continue to prioritize much-needed changes to U.S. immigration policy.
Last month, the Table, a broad coalition led by prominent evangelical denominations and organizations, released an Evangelical Immigration Agenda for the 117th Congress and the New Administration, guided by biblical principles that have shaped the Table since its launch in 2012.
Today’s immigration-related executive actions address several of the Table’s administrative priorities, including affirming support for protecting Dreamers, ending bans on immigration for individuals from particular countries of origin and returning discretion to federal immigration enforcement agencies that will minimize the separation of families.
In the coming days and weeks, we urge President Biden to make other vital administrative changes, including setting the refugee resettlement ceiling at a level in line with historic norms, rebuilding the U.S. asylum system, protecting vulnerable children by ensuring compliance with the Trafficking Victims Protection Reauthorization Act and restoring other lawful immigration processes that have halted family reunification and put those lawfully seeking refuge from persecution at risk.
The president also proposed an immigration reform bill that, from the details available, appears to be consistent with several of the Table’s principles. As noted in a statement released yesterday by Table organizations and a broad range of other faith, business, law enforcement and community leaders, any immigration reform will require bipartisan cooperation. The Table commends this bill as a starting point, while acknowledging that Congress will now need to take the lead in forging a bipartisan consensus toward a bill with sufficiently broad support to make it to President Biden’s desk.
We encourage members of Congress to consider the principles of the Evangelical Call for Restitution-Based Immigration Reform, which provides a model for an earned legalization process with an eventual path to citizenship that would require the payment of a fine. As a senator and as vice president, Biden supported such an element of past immigration reform proposals, and we believe it can earn the broad support necessary to be embraced by the American people.
The Table’s leaders are committed to praying for President Biden, Vice President Harris and their administration as well as for congressional leaders, just as we prayed for President Trump, Vice President Pence and their administration and for past Congresses. We also will continue our practice of affirming policy changes consistent with our values and respectfully objecting to changes that we do not believe conform with biblical values.
The following are quotes from individual leaders of evangelical organizations:
Scott Arbeiter, President, World Relief:
“These day-one actions are worth celebrating, and we hope they will be a down payment on further necessary immigration and refugee policy changes. While we urge President Biden to do what he can administratively, ultimately Congress must cooperate on a bipartisan basis if we are to see the long overdue reforms needed to repair our broken immigration system. World Relief, along with our many partner churches and supporters, is eager to help garner bipartisan support in the coming months for a bill that would provide an earned legalization process for undocumented immigrants and meet other priorities.”
Galen Carey, Vice President of Government Relations, National Association of Evangelicals:
“I am thrilled that President Biden has made fixing our broken immigration system one of his highest priorities by announcing a thoughtful legislative proposal and signing several related executive orders on his first day in office. This is an important step toward creating a sensible, bipartisan policy that is good for immigrants and good for America.”
Tom Lin, President, InterVarsity Christian Fellowship:
“At InterVarsity Christian Fellowship, we are pleased that President Biden and Congress are considering immigration reform. Many of the young people we serve are international and immigrant students, and their navigation of a tedious immigration system can be very stressful, unfair, and disheartening. We strongly believe in the Biblical value to ‘not mistreat the foreigner’ (Lev. 19:33) and to love our neighbors as ourselves (Lev. 19:34, Matt. 22:39). Public safety and a fair immigration system are not mutually exclusive; as a nation, America can and must do both.”
Chris Palusky, President & CEO, Bethany Christian Services:
“I commend the Biden-Harris administration for their leadership to address our nation’s broken immigration system. The U.S. has historically been a beacon of freedom and refuge for the overlooked and the ignored. While this is just the first step, we can welcome the stranger among us once again. At a time of great division in our country, these proposed reforms and executive orders remind us that America can be both strong and compassionate. We can protect our borders from those seeking to do harm while also welcoming those who need protection.”
Gabriel Salguero, President, National Latino Evangelical Coalition:
“As we receive a new presidential administration and Congress we renew a call for humane immigration reform. We need courageous bipartisan leadership that repairs our broken immigration system. The Latino evangelicals of the National Latino Evangelical Coalition stand committed to doing our part to chart a way forward on immigration.”
The Evangelical Immigration Table is a broad coalition of evangelical organizations and leaders advocating for immigration reform consistent with biblical values.