Evangelicals Converging on Washington to Support Immigration Reform

By Ivone Guillen 10-25-2013

Immigrants' rights activists march for comprehensive immigration reform. Photo: Ryan Rodrick Beiler/Shutterstock.com

In a recent USA Today article, reporter Alan Gomez highlights the broad support for immigration reform including among the evangelical faith community. 

“About 300 conservatives from around the country and with varying backgrounds — pastors, farmers, police chiefs, business owners — will arrive in Washington on Oct. 28 to meet with Republican lawmakers and make a conservative pitch for a new immigration law,” he wrote.

While Gomez’s piece effectively captures the strong support for immigration reform among evangelical leaders, among others, it also quotes Roy Beck, executive director of the population-control group NumbersUSA, who says these leaders “don’t represent the evangelical rank and file.” 

Polls and recent grassroots activity show otherwise. This is not surprising, as the organization Beck represents is widely scorned by evangelical leaders for its history of promoting abortion as a population control measure. The conservative evangelical publication World Magazine recently published an expose of NumbersUSA’s deceitful tactics and use of information.

More than 187,000 people who have signed up as prayer partners in an evangelical “Pray for Reform” effort would respectfully disagree with Mr. Beck’s claims to speak for evangelicals. These groups have mobilized across the country, holding prayer events and gatherings in support of immigration reform. These efforts reflect the groundswell of support among evangelical Christians for reform. Moreover, a recent CBS News poll found that 75 percent of evangelical Christians support broad reform that includes the opportunity for aspiring Americans to earn citizenship. 

Support is not unanimous, but as more and more of us build relationships with our immigrant neighbors and turn to Scripture for guidance, we are seeing immigrants and immigration in a new light. 

"I'm not an advocate of open borders. I'm not an advocate of blanket amnesty. I just see [undocumented immigrants] who are hurting and want to contribute to their family ... and the system is not working for them," said Jeremy Hudson, a pastor whose Fellowship Christian Church operates in House Speaker John Boehner's Ohio district, according to USA Today. Our broken system is hurting our communities, and we need a new process that respects family unity and every person’s God-given dignity.

This month’s fly-in is co-sponsored by the Southern Baptist Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission, the National Association of Evangelicals, and many other evangelical organizations. These organizations, not Mr. Beck’s, represent the strong majority evangelical Christians on this issue.

Ivone Guillen is Immigration Campaign Associate for Sojourners.

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