silouette against sunsetRecently, I was invited by some friends to join them at an event to support immigration reform.  The event was held at a local park in Denver and was a part of a larger, national effort which held over 150 rallies in 40 states across the country to show House leaders local support for immigration reform.

While we held our signs, marched, and asked cars passing by to honk in support of immigration reform, I began to look at one of the signs more closely, which read:  “Citizenship is an American Value.”  My first thought after I read it was this, “I wish I could hold a sign that read, Redemption is a Biblical Value.”  That may seem to be an unusual first thought for many of you, but it is such a close link for me when I look at the argument for citizenship for undocumented immigrants through a theological lens.

God is about redemption and restoration.  He is about buying back loss, and He is always moving and changing and accomplishing His beauty, through and in spite of humanity’s brokenness.

As a lover of God’s redemption, I want to look at citizenship for those who entered the United States unlawfully as an opportunity for brokenness to be made whole and for people to be restored. But the ability to earn citizenship by those who came to the United States unlawfully is politically polarizing.  For those following immigration in our country, you are no stranger to the debate surrounding the questions: “Should people get the opportunity to earn citizenship if they broke a law?”

I understand the need for justice to be served and punishment to be administered to lawbreakers, but we must then ask ourselves the more challenging questions: “What level of consequences should the ‘offender’ be subject to by the law? And for how long should he or she have to pay for that decision?” These questions are a legitimate part of the immigration debate in Congress right now.

As a Christian, I am drawn to God’s heart for justice, and how Biblical justice restores people to their productive capabilities.  God’s heart for Biblical justice seeks to bring people from brokenness into wholeness.  Redemption and justice are two of my favorite Biblical themes—probably because they’re closely linked theologically, but also because I am in great need of redemption and justice on a consistent basis.

Immigration reform that includes citizenship is about enabling people to move forward in a productive way, as long as they are willing to conform to the rules and social mores of the United States of America.  Citizenship is the completion of the restoration process, because citizenship is the completion of the assimilation process of becoming an American.  For this reason, I support immigration reform and the opportunity for citizenship for many, because as a Christian, I support the government putting in place just, redemptive laws that reflect God’s heart and help people move forward toward complete restoration.


Michelle Warren is the Colorado Immigration Specialist for the Christian Community Development Association, a principal signatory for the national Evangelical Immigration Table. 

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