Why Immigration Reform is a Christian Cause

As Evangelical Christians, our faith stands universally recognized by a simple symbol: a cross. The cross is both vertical and horizontal. Vertically, we stand connected to God, His Kingdom, eternal truth and glory. Horizontally, to our left and to our right, we stand connected to family, culture, society and community.

Immigration reform lies along both the vertical and horizontal planes. Vertically, the heart of God stands moved by the plight of the immigrant and the suffering. Horizontally, immigration reform will serve as a reconciliatory prescription for a nation divided by partisan politics.

Accordingly, it is the cross that should prompt us to our lift hands toward heaven and stretch our hands toward our fellow man. The cross should enable us to see the image of God in citizen and immigrant. The cross should compel us to declare that a human being cannot be illegal. And the cross should drive us to reconcile the rule of law (as laid out in Romans 13) with treating the immigrant as one of our own (Leviticus 19:33-34).

The cross gives me hope. Hope that the days of deportation and self deportation rhetoric are officially over. Hope that the politicians remember the promises made and reconcile rhetoric with action. For after all, faith without works is dead.

Correspondingly, we as Christ followers should stand committed to reconciling conviction with compassion, truth with love and righteousness with justice. At the end of the day, our objective should be to reconcile the Rev. Billy Graham’s message with the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s march. In doing so, we will advance not the agenda of the Donkey or the Elephant, but exclusively the agenda of the Lamb.

Comprehensive immigration reform stems not from the impetus of political advocacy but rather from the womb of prophetic activism. The Lamb’s agenda activates a culture firewall of righteousness and justice. In other words, in order to defend life, protect liberty and facilitate the platform by which all Americans can pursue happiness, we must apply biblical optics and corrective lenses to treat spiritual and cultural myopia as we address the difficult and divisive immigration reform issue.

Both political parties in Washington D.C. have played the proverbial political football with the issue of comprehensive immigration reform. That’s why it’s wonderful to see the faith community take the lead on this issue that transcends politics.

Some Christians have used the rule of law argument against comprehensive immigration reform. This argument is often framed by pointing to the Biblical passage of Romans 13, which opens with the sentence, “Let every person be subject to the governing authorities.”

However, I would suggest that to really see how the Bible looks at the issue of immigration, and how we should deal with the 11 million undocumented immigrants that reside in our country, one must continue reading the chapter. It continues, “owe no one anything, except to love one another, for the one who loves another has fulfilled the law … You shall love your neighbor as yourself. Love does no wrong to a neighbor; therefore love is the fulfilling of the law.” This passage of the bible does not conflict with the Leviticus 19: 33-34—the passage often used to argue for immigration reform. Rather, it conforms with it, as Leviticus states, “When an alien lives with you in your land, do not mistreat him. The alien living with you must be treated as one of your native-born. Love him as yourself, for you were aliens in Egypt. I am the Lord your God.”

Justice demands that, as a nation, we rise above the political fray. Justice requires us to form a compassionate process of integration for those who have come with a pure purpose of providing for their families a better tomorrow. Justice is not amnesty. Justice secures the border and stops illegal immigration but also builds a bridge where the undocumented can qualify through a strict regimen of metrics, can pay fines and can begin a process of fully embracing the American dream.

In the 1960s, the evangelical community stood on the sidelines as Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. marched for justice. In the 21st century, Evangelicals should refuse to repeat history. We should stand committed to contextualizing the moral imperative behind immigration reform. Driven by Matthew 25 and a commitment to reconcile conviction with compassion, the followers of Christ should lead the charge for immigration reform that protects our values, borders and, more importantly, the image of God in every human being. This commitment is consistent with the image of the cross and the Lamb’s Agenda.

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  • http://bit.ly/13skmqS Forums4Justice

    Let’s not make our Illegal Immigration Problem any worse than it already is http://bit.ly/166R8ff

  • AbnDoc

    I have no problem with immigration reform. We should let more educated, law-abiding citizens in who can care for themselves and who are willing to assimilate into our country and who are willing to abide by our laws (including immigration laws.)

    Unfortunately, “immigration reform” usually means we should open up the borders to everyone and anyone who enters our country illegally should be given equal standing with other immigrants who are following the procedures and the law.

    I say that we adopt the same immigration laws that Mexico has for foreigners coming into their country. Then, we build a wall to keep the drug dealers, human traffickers, generic criminals and Al Quaida operatives from crossing the border.

  • Noah172

    Does Mr. Rodriguez have anything to say about the illegal alien amnesty signed into law by President Reagan in 1986? All the same justifications and promises that we hear today for the current amnesty proposal — and that we heard during the last big immigration battle in 2006-7 — were made first back then. Does Mr. Rodriguez consider that law a success in *all* its provisions — and if not, why does he expect this new law to be any more successful? Is Mr. Rodriguez even aware of the 1986 immigration act? AFAICT, the answer to all of these is a resounding, depressing, insulting no.

    The cross should compel us to declare that a human being cannot be illegal

    How tiresome. Allow me to enter Mr. Rodriguez’ home without his permission, take up residence there, eat his food and use his utilities without providing any, or insufficient, payment towards them, invite over my family to take up residence in the Rodriguez home without his permission, and then menace and even assault his family, and let’s see if he does not call me “illegal” and much harsher language.

    Why, on the subject of immigration, does Mr. Rodriguez not discuss compassion for: unemployed Americans who could do the jobs currently taken by foreigners; or low-income Americans whose wages have been depressed due to competition with immigrants; or American victims of immigrant crime (identity theft, drug trafficking, drunk driving, and everything else up to the most heinous murders); or Americans struggling to find or keep affordable housing when a surge of immigrants into their cities drives up the cost of housing; or the American environment (i.e., God’s creation) degraded by the extra waste and energy consumption that immigration exacerbates (since the typical immigrant consumes more in America than he would his native land)?

    “The Lord will send on you curses, confusion, and frustration in all that you undertake to do, until you are destroyed and perish quickly on account of the evil of your deeds, because you have forsaken me… The sojourner who is among you shall rise higher and higher above you, and you shall come down lower and lower. He shall lend to you, and you shall not lend to him. He shall be the head, and you shall be the tail. Deuteronomy 28:20, 43-44