Article Dec 19, 2017

The nations at our doorstep: Protecting the dignity of the immigrant

This is the latest ERLC End-of-Year update as part of our RISE Campaign.

Immigration policy is one of the toughest issues we work on. Any single issue within the broader context of comprehensive immigration reform raises challenging questions: What is just in this scenario? Who has broken the law and what penalty should be paid for that? Why did they break the law in the first place? What role did we—as citizens— play in encouraging them to break the law because we needed and still need their participation in the workforce? At the same time, though, we’re also asking what cost does this impose on communities around the country, and how do we remedy that? What about those Dreamers who were brought here by their parents and broke no law themselves? Is it just to send them back to the place where they were born but have never called home?

We engage this issue because it has implications for all four policy areas we work on—human dignity, family and marriage, justice, and religious liberty.

Immigration is a human dignity issue because every person is made in the image of God and is worthy of our honor, neighborly love, and access to justice. Immigration is a family and marriage issue because we believe strong families are foundational to our society, and all of our policy—including immigration policy—should work to support and strengthen families. Immigration is a justice issue because God speaks throughout the Bible about the way we ought to love the sojourner and the oppressed among us. Immigration is a religious liberty issue because churches should be free to serve their neighbors—regardless of the person’s lawful status—without fear of prosecution.

In 2017, our team has been working on a number of issues within the immigration context: Finding a fair, just, and wise solution for Dreamers, those immigrants who were brought here by their parents while they were minors; securing the border and ensuring fair and effective enforcement of our nation's immigration laws; and advocating that our country would do its part in the global refugee crisis while ensuring that America's population is safe from threats of international terrorism.

Our team has played a leading role in these debates on a number of fronts. We released a statement of principles calling for a solution for Dreamers signed by over 50 leading evangelical leaders. We authored a number of letters to members of Congress urging concrete action. We worked with members of Congress to provide feedback on bill text before they introduced the legislation. We have also worked in collaboration with several different coalitions, including the Evangelical Immigration Table, to meet with over one hundred House and Senate offices to encourage—and stress the urgency of—finding a solution for Dreamers this year.

Even as we approach the year’s end, we aren’t done working on this issue. We are still calling on Congress to provide a solution for Dreamers and provide additional border security measures by the end of 2017.

If Congress doesn’t act this year, we will continue to press these issues in early 2018. The Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program expires on March 5, 2018. Without a permanent legislative solution, each day after March 5, 1,400 Dreamers will lose their work authorizations and be laid off from their jobs. They will lose their ability to support themselves and their families and will be driven back into the shadows. This is an unacceptable outcome.

Aside from finding a solution for Dreamers, however, we know we will also be working on a number of other immigration-related issues as we head into the new year, including visa reform, border security and interior enforcement, the Temporary Protected Status program, and refugee policy. Each of these issues has gospel implications, and the solutions we advocate for ought to reflect our unique worldview as Christians.

Please join us in supporting our work to proclaim the gospel and protect the most vulnerable among us, the immigrant and refugee alike.

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