The Common Good

How evangelicals helped shape immigration reform

Date: July 1, 2013

For the past several years, World Relief has been engaged in an ongoing effort to bring about a more balanced immigration debate rooted in Biblical values, particularly among evangelicals.   In 2006, evangelicals were polled to be the most anti-immigrant among other religious groups surveyed, and I found this to be true in my personal interaction with various faith communities as well. Through a more careful and thoughtful reading of Scripture and the relationships that many evangelicals have built with immigrants themselves, much of this attitude has changed. Immigrants are attending our churches, and now lead some of the most significant growth in the evangelical church throughout the country.

It was through these relationships that many evangelicals came to realize that we needed immigration reform in order to help those without documentation get on a pathway towards restitution and restoration. We helped launch the Evangelical Immigration Table and met with many members of Congress and their staff for months and prayed asking God for continued guidance and wisdom for members of Congress through our #Pray4Reform effort at After distributing 120,000 bookmarks as part of our “I Was A Stranger” challenge, placing billboards and airing radio ads in Florida and Texas, among other states, we felt that we were at a moment when our voices were making a concerted difference.

And it did. The vote was a stark difference from 2007, when the opposition shut down the phone lines and sent bricks to Members’ offices. In 2007, it was a struggle to get 60 votes in support of reform. Now, we were aiming to get 70, and ended up with a 68-32 vote count, which was a resounding victory. Several Senate staffers told me that the calls were even coming into their offices, and they were hearing from self-identified evangelicals who were supporting the Senate bill.