Learning about immigration and our rich theology to love the immigrant is a great starting point but certainly not the end. Kingdom servants do not stop at awareness but recognize the need to move beyond awareness to engagement. Engagement in its early stages can look quite varied as you begin to enter into the struggle that immigrants face today.
Many evangelicals who have served meals, tutored children, taught ESL classes, visited deportation centers, given legal aide, and walked alongside scores of undocumented people and their families have come to a realization that the church can give a merciful response, but that the overarching issue needs a justice response, a proactive, out-in-front-of-the-problem solution to deal with this public policy issue. There have been and still remain numerous policy solutions to address this federal issue but as many public policy gurus will tell you, good public policy solutions will not see the light of day if there is a lack of political will. As it sits right now, the political landscape for this issue moving productive, bipartisan solutions forward is about zero. Sounds depressing until you realize that political will can be shifted when you have a critical mass of constituents desiring movement and there is an entire group of constituents who have not formally weighed in on this issue—evangelical Christians. The business community, law enforcement and the broader faith community have all been seated at the table for quite some time. Evangelicals historically have not been engaging this issue however recently; our blind spot is beginning to see some light.
Yesterday, the Evangelical Immigration Table sent a delegation to Washington D.C. to present a letter signed by 150 nationally prominent evangelical leaders representing to Congress and the President asking that the current public policy stalemate stop. They will not only represent themselves but a commitment to bring the injustice of our country’s immigration system and the need for reform to their spheres of influence. They are committed to teach Biblical mandates from their pulpits to help grow an understanding and awareness about this issue with the hope that evangelical Christians will engage their representatives to ensure change will take place.
The Evangelical Immigration Table’s statement continues to gain signatories daily. This national effort has brought about the desire and resources to begin to formally organize in Colorado and Florida. They hope to add more states over time until enough voices are at the table to produce the necessary critical mass to motivate federally elected officials to implement policies to address immigration.
Advocacy can feel like a stretch for many of us who would much rather end with learning about this issue or even make some first steps to love some immigrants. But, in addition to a rich theology for loving immigrants, we have a rich theology to advocate for the voiceless as well.
Michelle Warren is an immigration policy specialist and the Colorado organizer for the Evangelical Immigration Table. She received her B.A. from Cedarville University and her M.P.A. from the University of Colorado. View the EIT’s statement and signatories, and sign on yourself, at evangelicalimmigrationtable.com.
A version of this article first appeared in the 2012 spring/summer Torch, a publication of Cedarville University.
Please note that the views expressed do not necessarily represent those of everyone associated with G92 or any institutions with which the blogger may be affiliated.
We’re always looking for new guest bloggers; please check out our Guest Blog Submission Guidelines if you’re interested.