Religious Group Backs Amnesty

By James R. Edwards, Jr. on October 12, 2009

Two days after CIS's panel on religious perspectives on immigration policy, the National Association of Evangelicals became the latest pawn in immigration politics. The NAE has failed its flock, falling far short on the "wise as serpents, innocent as doves" standard. Rather, goaded by open-borders adherents wearing clerical garb, the NAE has become the most recent religious bureaucracy to foist biblically questionable immigration policies on citizen parishioners. Many native-born American evangelicals who, say, can't find a job or face financial disaster as a result of illegal aliens and chain migrants robbing them of their American birthright, would be harmed by the course the NAE parrots.

The NAE, which represents many of the denominations of the Christian evangelical movement, just adopted a resolution endorsing mass amnesty and a "soft on immigration crimes" stance calling for the weakening of reasonable enforcement. NAE even gripes about the slow pace of family reunification, when the cause of backlogs is the 1990 expansion of visa categories to include distant relatives. And the existence of "chain migration" visas contributes to longer separation of nuclear families -- husbands and wives, parents, and minor children. The NAE fails to recognize important facts, such as the United States has the most generous immigration system in the world. America takes in more legal immigrants and refugees for permanent resettlement than all other countries combined. If anything, Americans have been welcoming of foreigners to a fault. These facts testify against the allegations of uninformed entities like the NAE, who speak as though the United States ran some miserly immigration program.

The language of this resolution reflects a serious lack of understanding of the history, current circumstances, complexities, malevolent effects, and imbalance resulting from the immigration excesses of current U.S. policies. The weight of current policies falls heavily on the most vulnerable Americans: those with a high school education or less, native-born blacks and other native minorities, the disabled. Yes, all Christians would agree that immigrants and native-born Americans alike are equally created, as human beings, in the image of God. Each individual, regardless of race, nation, gender, or religion, has inherent significance as God's image-bearer. But that doesn't change the equally true fact that each individual person providentially is placed under specific earthly authorities.

By the grace of God, each American benefits from membership in one of the most just, merciful, and righteous bodies politic that has ever existed. But just because the United States stands in the world as a beacon of liberty and justice doesn't mean anybody who wants to come live in this nation can do so by their own will. Yet, some 12 million or so people whose civic membership belongs to some other nation have forced themselves upon this nation. The prudential solution certainly isn't to legalize them all, give them the same immigration and other benefits as law-abiding immigrants and U.S. citizens, and make things worse for our fellow Americans by expanding legal immigration further. The NAE has dishonored the cause of Christ by a sophomoric standard of analysis. How about more wisdom and innocence, less patronizing feel-good bromides?