New immigrants are coming into America, legally and illegally, at the rate of 125,000 a month. If this trend continues, by the end of the decade, the immigrant portion of the U.S. population will exceed 14.8 percent, the historic high recorded in 1890.
Missions consultant Arturo Lucero, president of Multi-Cultural Ministries, Victorville, California, said church-based outreach to new immigrants and their families has become the number one priority for many American evangelicals. He told Christianity Today that American cities and towns are undergoing an "explosion of immigrants, refugees, and changed lives."
"Jesus gave the church two mandates: evangelize all peoples and love all peoples. The peoples are here, and we need to follow Jesus even if we have to move beyond our ethnic comfort zones."
New immigrants are very needy. On average, they are poorer and depend on welfare more than native-born families. The heads of immigrant households often have little formal education. Employers frequently pay them lower wages than other U.S. heads of households. New immigrants living in poor neighborhoods are also more likely than natives to become crime victims. Aware of the risks, new immigrants may arrive with the address of a church in their pockets.
New immigrants have fanned out across the nation. But about 60 percent of the nation's 33 million immigrants live in one of ten large metro areas, such as New York, Miami, Chicago, or Los Angeles. The metro area of Los Angeles alone has 5.1 million immigrants and California takes the prize as having the greatest immigrant population of any state (9.1 million). Jon Miller of the University of Southern California Center of Religion and Civic Culture says, "Los Angeles is the new landing ...