Evangelicals Respond to Senate Border, Asylum and Immigration Proposal

 In Press Releases

Washington, D.C. — Today, a coalition of evangelical denominations and organizations sent a letter to members of Congress, responding to a bipartisan border and immigration proposal included within a supplemental spending bill.

The letter notes evangelical Christians’ longstanding commitments to bipartisan legislative solutions to both ensure secure borders and due process for those seeking asylum in the United States. “We are grateful for the efforts of Senators Lankford, Murphy, Sinema and others to seek to forge a bipartisan consensus,” the letter says.

The letter affirms many elements of the bill, including increased funding for personnel, infrastructure and technology to improve border security and to certain changes in asylum processing, noting that the current situation “has proven unsustainable and risks the integrity of our asylum system.” Signatories also affirm the inclusion of a path to permanent legal status for Afghan allies, funding for legal representation for unaccompanied children 13 years or under and new immigrant visas that will reduce backlogs for family reunification and employer-sponsored immigrants.

However, the letter reflects concern over provisions of the bill that would halt access to asylum in certain circumstances allowed under current law when arrival numbers are high. The leaders also note that many of their immigration priorities are not included, including a path to citizenship for DACA recipients and other Dreamers.

Toward that end, they commend the approach of a bipartisan bill in the House of Representatives, the Dignity Act (H.R. 3599), “which not only seeks to reform the asylum process and provide far greater funding than proposed by the Senate for border security and asylum processing ($35 billion total) but also would provide a path to citizenship for Dreamers and would institute a rigorous, restitution-based legalization process for certain other immigrants.” They note that the fines, fees and levies involved in that legalization process would fully cover the significant expenditures on border security and asylum processing reforms.

“We urge you to work together toward bipartisan solutions that address these various challenges in ways that both ensure more secure and orderly borders and also a just, welcoming immigration legal system that affirms the dignity of all human beings,” the letter concludes.

The following are quotes from several leaders of evangelical organizations who signed the letter:

Myal Greene, President & CEO, World Relief:
“Our prayer — though it may require a miracle in the current political environment — is that this initial, good-faith bipartisan effort in the U.S. Senate will ultimately lead to a more comprehensive bill that will pass both chambers of Congress and be signed into law.”

Shirley Hoogstra, President, Council for Christian Colleges & Universities:
“I commend the negotiators for their bipartisan collaboration on immigration reform and border security. From a Christian organization committed to biblical principles, I applaud the efforts to create a just system that ensures the dignity of every person. Senators Lankford, Sinema, and Murphy and others exhibited the courage to put ideas on paper. The art of thoughtful compromise and finding common ground is a long revered quality of the Senate. While there is more to be done, I am grateful for the work of the negotiators to craft solutions to intractable problems.”

Gabriel Salguero, President, National Latino Evangelical Coalition:
“Our laws should be designed to ensure both an orderly, safe border and that those fleeing persecution can find refuge and be treated humanely. While evangelical Christians may differ on if this bill finds the right balance in respecting these two priorities, and it’s missing other important immigration policy changes for which evangelicals have long advocated, I’m thankful that a bipartisan group of U.S. senators are talking to one another and trying. Our country desperately needs them to keep trying.”

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