Recently, we’ve seen renewed calls for the mass deportation of millions of immigrants living in the country unlawfully, as well as counter-calls for mass amnesty. We believe that a response to the situation of immigrants in the country unlawfully is long overdue, but should avoid either of these extremes. Instead, driven by biblical values, we believe the situation can best be resolved with a restitution-based solution that both honors the law and keeps families together.
We invite evangelical Christians to join over 1,000 others, including many prominent leaders you can see here, in adding your name affirming the statement below, which the Evangelical Immigration Table intends to release publicly and share with federal elected officials.
The problems with our broken immigration system have grown over the past 30+ years to the point that we now have millions of immigrants present unlawfully, most of whom have been here more than a decade, with millions of US citizen children and others who were brought here as children. Recognizing that past attempts to solve this growing national dilemma have failed, only causing more division and suspicion in our country, we support solutions that encompass the following goals and that honor the rule of law while addressing the economic, moral, humanitarian and security issues arising from this problem in a fair way.
As evangelical Christians, our approach to immigration policy is driven by biblical principles. We believe that each person is made in God’s image and so should be treated humanely; that God has ordained the role of civil government, including the responsibility to protect the safety of citizens, maintain order and respect the rule of law, which is diminished when laws are violated without consequence; that because God created the family unit, governments should not violate the unity of the family except in the rarest of circumstances; that God is concerned with the wellbeing of those who are vulnerable, including the orphan, the widow and the foreigner, and it is appropriate for citizens to encourage our government to treat these vulnerable groups with fairness and compassion; and that God delights in redemption, when those who have violated the law are able to be restored.
Guided by these biblical teachings, we urge our elected officials to act in ways guided by the following principles:
- We support solutions to the problem of immigrants being in our country illegally that strengthen the rule of law while making both the law and its enforcement more responsive to our needs and values. We recognize that the law has in many cases not worked well, has been inconsistently enforced, and has been violated both by the immigrants present without authorization and by the employers who employ them without authorization.
- We support a process of restitution (not amnesty) where violation of law is admitted to and significant fines/penalties are paid by immigrants (in installments over a period of seven years) who came illegally (or overstayed a visa) as adults, leading to a pathway to Legal Permanent Residency if qualifications are met.
- Immigrants who were brought to the US unlawfully or overstayed a visa as children (Dreamers) would go through a process where they can get onto a pathway to Legal Permanent Residency if qualifications are met.
- We encourage fairness to taxpayers by requiring that all immigrants be self-sufficient, work, pay taxes, and be productive, or be in families and households that are doing so.
- We encourage our government to establish a secure border and an efficient and orderly process of immigration.
We believe that a solution to the problem of illegal immigration is long overdue. Deporting all immigrants here in the country illegally is neither feasible nor morally just. Immigrant families are integral parts of our communities, and children have been born and raised here who are US citizens. Many immigrant families have been here for decades, and many are members of local churches. We must develop a solution that fits the problem we have, solves it by upholding the rule of law, creates a process of restitution, and gives the possibility of integration so immigrants can fully participate in American life.