There is an ongoing revolution in the Evangelical Christian community to support immigration reform.
Two years ago, national evangelical leaders began to speak out in favor of legislation to give legal status to immigrants in the United States illegally. Now, as Congress is about to start a debate on overhauling the immigration system, conservative Christians, once inclined to take a hard line on immigrants they viewed as lawbreakers, are consulting their Bibles and coming around to the pastors’ view.
Reportedly, there is a growing change to understand immigration reform as a theological mandate. The group Evangelical Immigration Table is leading the campaign to petition Congress and the White House to act on immigration reform.
It should be noted that a conversation about workers rights is just a relevant in this debate. Jewish leaders have also been active in the push for reform. The Union of Reform Judaism, the Hebrew Immigrant Aid Society (HIAS), and our national and local Jewish organization partners have launched We Were Strangers, Too, the Jewish campaign for immigration reform.
We Were Strangers, Too: the Jewish Campaign for Immigration Reform calls on Congress to fix our country’s broken immigration system. We call for immigration legislation that: keeps families united and decreases the waiting time for family re-unification; creates pathways to citizenship for undocumented immigrants; establishes border protection and enforcement policies that bolster our national security, while balancing enforcement with economic development and human and civil rights; outlines a plan for future migration flows in order to protect all workers’ rights; empowers immigrants to fully integrate by providing financial support to local governments and community organizations that offer classes and services.
Immigration and the Bible
The Tanakh (The Jewish Bible)
“When a stranger resides with you in your land, you shall not wrong him. The stranger who resides with you shall be as one of your citizens; you shall love him as yourself, for you were strangers in the land of Egypt: I the Lord am your God.
“You shall not wrong a stranger or oppress him, for you were strangers in the land of Egypt.
“But [first] I will step forward to contend against you, and I will act as a relentless accuser against those who have no fear of Me: Who practice sorcery, who commit adultery, who swear falsely, who cheat laborers of their hire, and who subvert [the cause of] the widow, orphan, and stranger, said the Lord of hosts.
“Cursed be he who subverts the rights of the stranger, the fatherless, and the widow. – And all the people shall say, Amen.
“Thus said the Lord of Hosts: Execute true justice; deal loyally and compassionately with one another. Do not defraud the widow, the orphan, the stranger, and the poor; and do not plot evil against one another.
“No, if you really amend your ways and your actions, if you execute justice between one man and another, if you do not oppress the stranger, the orphan, and the widow, if you do not shed the blood of the innocent in this place; if you do not follow other gods, to your own hurt – then only will I let you dwell in this place, in the land that I gave to your fathers for all time.
“You shall allot it as a heritage for yourselves and for the strangers who reside among you, who have begotten children among you. You shall treat them as Israelite citizens; they shall receive allotments along with you among the tribes of Israel.
“You shall then recite as follows before the Lord your God, ‘My father was a fugitive Aramean. He went down to Egypt with meager numbers and sojourned there; but there he became a great and very populous nation.
“If your kinsman, being in straits, comes under your authority, and you hold him as though as resident alien, let him live by your side; do not exact from him advance or accrued interest, but fear your God. Let him live by your side as your kinsman.
“For the Lord your God is God supreme and Lord supreme, the great, the mighty, and the awesome God, who shows no favor and takes no bribe, but upholds the cause of the fatherless and the widow, and befriends the stranger, providing him with food and clothing.- You must befriend the stranger, for you were strangers in the land of Egypt.
“The Lord said to Abram, ‘Go forth from your native land and from your father’s house to the land that I will show you.
“But Ruth replied, ‘Do not urge me to leave you, to turn back and not follow you. For wherever you go, I will go; wherever you lodge, I will lodge; your people shall be my people, and your God my God.
“By the rivers of Babylon, there we sat, sat and wept, as we thought of Zion. There on the poplars we hung up our lyres, for our captors asked us there for songs, our tormentors, for amusement, ‘Sing us one of the songs of Zion.’ How can we sing a song of the Lord on alien soil?
“You shall not abuse a needy or destitute laborer, whether a fellow countryman or a stranger in one of the communities of your land. You must pay his wages on the same day, before the sun sets, for he is needy and urgently depends on it; else he will cry to the Lord against you and you will incur guilt.
The New Testament (The Amplified Bible)
“For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you brought me together with yourselves and welcomed me and entertained me and lodged me.
“Do not forget or neglect or refuse to extend hospitality to strangers [in the brotherhood - being friendly, cordial, gracious, sharing the comfort of your home and doing your part generously], for through it some have entertained angels without knowing it.
“For if you love those who love you, what reward can you have? Do not even the tax collectors do that? And if you greet only your brethren, what more than others are you doing? Do not even the Gentiles do that?