We Must Fix Our Broken Immigration System

We Must Fix Our Broken Immigration System

By  | August 19, 2014

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The U.S. immigration system is broken. Republicans, Democrats, and Independents have argued that the immigration system is in urgent need of an overhaul. Essentially we have a twentieth-century immigration system addressing twenty-first century immigration realities. The question is not whether or not we need to repair a broken system but rather what should be done to repair this broken immigration system. I am reminded of the existential question of Martin Luther King, Jr., at the height of the civil rights movement: “Where do we go from here? Chaos or community?”

As an evangelical leader, Scripture and Christian tradition help shape the principles I bring to bear on the immigration debate. St. Augustine provides a guiding question for Christians interested in moral laws and good policies. When it comes to any action or law, Augustine asks, “What is the summa bonum (highest good)?” Christians and all people of good will should relentlessly pursue the highest good. The highest good could modernize our immigration system while providing a way for 11 million people, created in the image of God, to come out of the shadows. For the sake of our shared humanity, we must find a better way forward.

While no policy is specifically endorsed by Scripture, biblical principles overwhelmingly point to practicing hospitality while not imposing undue hardships on citizens. Common-sense immigration reform can do both. Scripture continuously underscores the moral mandate of hospitality. The word for hospitality in the New Testament is “xenophilia”— love of the stranger. Love is the highest Christian principle and must always be balanced with justice. That is why I have endorsed the principles of the Evangelical Immigration Table that balance border security, fairness to taxpayers, family unity, and an earned path to citizenship. We can do all of these things. The status quo is both unsustainable and keeps the door closed to approximately 11 million people. Reform would provide a way for many of them to get right with the law and contribute to the future of our country. Few opponents to comprehensive immigration reform have provided a rational response to what do we do with these 11 million people, many of them women and children. No one argues that keeping 11 million people in a state of perpetual limbo is the right course of action. –

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