The Common Good

Evangelicals May Be Key to Immigration Reform

Citing various passages from the Bible, most especially the 25th chapter of the Gospel of Matthew, a coalition of prominent evangelical groups is pushing Congress to enact comprehensive immigration reform, and specifically a pathway to citizenship for those living here illegally. The alliance, which includes Land’s Southern Baptist Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission, often cites that famous passage from Matthew: “I was a stranger and you invited me in.”

Evangelicals have favored comprehensive immigration reform for years, but they now see a political and economic climate that is especially receptive for successful legislation. Their coalition, The Evangelical Immigration Table, wrote a letter to President Obama and congressional leaders asking that any plan include the opportunity for illegal residents to gain citizenship.

That component, as evangelical leaders know, is a stumbling block on Capitol Hill, where conservatives are concerned about the term “amnesty.”

This is still a big hurdle, but the Republican Party has traveled a great distance in the past 12 months. It was only a year ago that Mitt Romney tried to score points against Texas Gov. Rick Perry during a Republican presidential debate by declaring that the answer to illegal immigration was “self-deportation.”