Samuel Rodriguez, president of the National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference, James K. Hoffmeier, author of The Immigration Crisis, and David Skeel is author of Icarus in the Boardroom, suggest the next steps in reforming immigration.
Immigration, like many of today's divisive issues, presents a biblical responsibility to American Christians. We must analyze the issue appropriately and work toward solutions that make genuine reconciliation possible.
Christians must incorporate an approach to reform that heals communities, ushers in peace, and exalts righteousness and justice. Many conservative solutions to immigration focus only on border protection and deportation. Many liberal solutions advocate an easy amnesty for undocumented persons. But Christians must offer a better way, one anchored in our Bible-based convictions.
A solution that emphasizes assimilation and justice reconciles Romans 13 (adherence to the rule of law) and Leviticus 19 (Israel's treatment of strangers). As Christians, we stand committed to the message of the Cross. However, that Cross is both vertical and horizontal, representing salvation and transformation, covenant and community.
Such a solution must include the following elements. First, we must put an end to all illegal immigration by increasing border protection, including using infrared, satellite, and other technologies, in addition to border patrols.
Second, we should create a market-driven guest-worker program that provides clear avenues by which millions of undocumented families can obtain legal status in a manner that reflects the Judeo-Christian value system this nation was founded on.
Third, undocumented residents without a criminal record who are earning citizenship status must go to the back of the citizenship line, admit guilt, and receive a financial penalty, while acquiring civic and language proficiency and serving the local community.
But here lies the challenge: Can we push back on the extremes from both the Left and the Right and come together at the foot of the Cross, where righteousness meets justice, border security meets compassion, and common sense meets common ground?
The answer requires two communities, immigrants and American evangelicals, to express the gospel message of reconciliation that transcends border politics.
Immigrants must understand that what makes one an American is nothing less than an allegiance to and covenant with the values of our Constitution, Declaration of Independence, and Bill of Rights. Internalizing and adhering to those values obligates the immigrant to embrace English as our language, focus on our commonalities, and respect the symbols of our republic, including the American flag, while assimilating into the fullness of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness—the American idea.
On the other hand, American evangelicals must reject xenophobia and nativism, embracing a culture of righteousness and justice in which biblical truth trumps political affiliation, and where allegiance stands exclusively reserved, not to the donkey or the elephant, but rather to the agenda of the Lamb. Immigration reform will not happen overnight. But we must start now.
Watch Your Words
James K. Hoffmeier
The immigration debate is one of the most confusing issues facing our nation. Churches and individual Christians naturally turn to Scripture for wisdom on how to think about the dilemma. As a biblical scholar, I have been intrigued to see how the Bible is used to frame public policy.