January Prayer Partner: Our Hope is in the Lord
January 20, 2021
Recently, my wife and I spent some intentional time reflecting on the past year – where we’d seen God answer prayers, what we’d learned about ourselves and about God, where we encountered joy and also where we’d experienced disappointment.
The first disappointment of 2021 that came to my mind related to the state of U.S. immigration policy. I’d gone into the new year genuinely hopeful that our country would finally make long overdue changes to U.S. immigration laws, including creating a way for most undocumented immigrants to earn permanent legal status and reopening the U.S. to refugees and others fleeing persecution.
But a year later, with a few exceptions, immigration policies remain very similar to what they were last year at this time.
Multiple bills that would have legalized millions of undocumented immigrants – including Dreamers brought to the U.S. as children – passed through the House of Representatives but have stalled in the U.S. Senate, with little apparent prospect of passage any time soon as a result of partisan gridlock.
After initially reaffirming a historically low ceiling of just 15,000 refugees, President Biden ultimately responded to public outcry and raised the maximum number of refugees who could come into the U.S. to 125,000. Butut still fewer than 14,000 individuals were admitted to the U.S. as refugees in 2021, far from either the new ceiling or from historic norms.
Encouragingly, approximately 70,000 Afghans were admitted to the U.S. and are now being welcomed into communities around the country. But despite broad public support, Congress has thus far failed to pass (or even introduce) legislation to allow these individuals – who are generally being “paroled” into the U.S. and given temporary protections and work authorization, rather than being formally admitted as refugees – the opportunity to apply for permanent legal status. Pleas from evangelical Christians and others to address this problem have, thus far, not been heeded. And many other uniquely vulnerable Afghans remain unable to enter the U.S., despite advocacy efforts.
And the right to request asylum for individuals who have fled persecution abroad and reached the U.S.-Mexico border remains tightly restricted, with most asylum seekers turned back to Mexico, many denied the opportunity to present their case at all. Without due process, some are returned to situations of persecution and violence.
The disappointment with the current situation, though, reminds me of something I have learned over and over again but am prone to forget: while it’s right to leverage our influence in a democratic form of government for more just policies, we should never put our faith there. Psalm 146 reminds us:
Don’t put your confidence in powerful people;
there is no help for you there.
When they breathe their last, they return to the earth,
and all their plans die with them.
But joyful are those who have the God of Israel as their helper,
whose hope is in the Lord their God. (Ps 146:3-5 NLT)
It is our God – not any president, legislator or court – who ultimately “protects the foreigners among us [and] cares for the orphans and widows” (Ps 146:9).
So one of my resolutions this year, even as I remain committed to advocacy, is to double-down on prayer, pleading with God to bring about justice, and asking him to move the hearts of those in positions of authority to do what is just and right, particularly for those who are vulnerable.
Would you join me? We’ll have an informal time of corporate (virtual) prayer on Monday, January 24 at 4 PM ET/3 PM CT/2 PM MT/1 PM PT. We’d be grateful if you’d join us – you can add the link to your calendar or simply click here to join the call at that time.
National Coordinator, Evangelical Immigration Table