Why Immigration Reform is a Christian Cause

NHCLC President Samuel Rodriguez on why Christians should care about immigration reform.

As Evangelical Christians, our faith stands universally recognized by a simple symbol: a cross. The cross is both vertical and horizontal. Vertically, we stand connected to God, His Kingdom, eternal truth and glory. Horizontally, to our left and to our right, we stand connected to family, culture, society and community. 

Immigration reform lies along both the vertical and horizontal planes. Vertically, the heart of God stands moved by the plight of the immigrant and the suffering. Horizontally, immigration reform will serve as a reconciliatory prescription for a nation divided by partisan politics. 

The cross should enable us to see the image of God in citizen and immigrant.

Accordingly, it is the cross that should prompt us to our lift hands toward heaven and stretch our hands toward our fellow man. The cross should enable us to see the image of God in citizen and immigrant. The cross should compel us to declare that a human being cannot be illegal. And the cross should drive us to reconcile the rule of law (as laid out in Romans 13) with treating the immigrant as one of our own (Leviticus 19:33-34).  

The cross gives me hope. Hope that the days of deportation and self deportation rhetoric are officially over. Hope that the politicians remember the promises made and reconcile rhetoric with action. For after all, faith without works is dead. 

Correspondingly, we as Christ followers should stand committed to reconciling conviction with compassion, truth with love and righteousness with justice.  At the end of the day, our objective should be to reconcile the Rev. Billy Graham’s message with the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s march. In doing so, we will advance not the agenda of the Donkey or the Elephant, but exclusively the agenda of the Lamb.

Comprehensive immigration reform stems not from the impetus of political advocacy but rather from the womb of prophetic activism. The Lamb’s agenda activates a culture firewall of righteousness and justice. In other words, in order to defend life, protect liberty and facilitate the platform by which all Americans can pursue happiness, we must apply biblical optics and corrective lenses to treat spiritual and cultural myopia as we address the difficult and divisive immigration reform issue.

Both political parties in Washington D.C. have played the proverbial political football with the issue of comprehensive immigration reform. That’s why it’s wonderful to see the faith community take the lead on this issue that transcends politics.

Some Christians have used the rule of law argument against comprehensive immigration reform. This argument is often framed by pointing to the Biblical passage of Romans 13, which opens with the sentence, “Let every person be subject to the governing authorities.” 

Justice requires us to form a compassionate process of integration for those who have come with a pure purpose of providing for their families.

However, I would suggest that to really see how the Bible looks at the issue of immigration, and how we should deal with the 11 million undocumented immigrants that reside in our country, one must continue reading the chapter. It continues, “owe no one anything, except to love one another, for the one who loves another has fulfilled the law ... You shall love your neighbor as yourself. Love does no wrong to a neighbor; therefore love is the fulfilling of the law.” This passage of the bible does not conflict with the Leviticus 19: 33-34—the passage often used to argue for immigration reform. Rather, it conforms with it, as Leviticus states, “When an alien lives with you in your land, do not mistreat him. The alien living with you must be treated as one of your native-born. Love him as yourself, for you were aliens in Egypt. I am the Lord your God.”

Justice demands that, as a nation, we rise above the political fray. Justice requires us to form a compassionate process of integration for those who have come with a pure purpose of providing for their families a better tomorrow. Justice is not amnesty. Justice secures the border and stops illegal immigration but also builds a bridge where the undocumented can qualify through a strict regimen of metrics, can pay fines and can begin a process of fully embracing the American dream.

In the 1960s, the evangelical community stood on the sidelines as Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. marched for justice. In the 21st century, Evangelicals should refuse to repeat history. We should stand committed to contextualizing the moral imperative behind immigration reform. Driven by Matthew 25 and a commitment to reconcile conviction with compassion, the followers of Christ should lead the charge for immigration reform that protects our values, borders and, more importantly, the image of God in every human being. This commitment is consistent with the image of the cross and the agenda of the Lamb.

Top Comments

Salvador Armendariz


Salvador Armendariz commented…

It's easy to stand against a pathway to citizenship when one continues to look at immigrants as "aliens". Seems to me like people begin to soften up about the issue once they get to actually know an undocumented immigrant. This is why the choice of words used to refer to immigrants is so crucial. Not to mention the Biblical standard is obviously one of tolerance and even of welcoming of immigrants--whether legal or not. There are powerful reasons why someone would choose to abandon their land, undertake such a dangerous journey, and be treated like garbage in order to immigrate without the proper documents.

Heather Hall


Heather Hall commented…

The Old Testament commands us to love the alien and to treat him/her as one of our own. I have trouble understanding how so many Evangelical Christians are so hostile towards immigration reform. I have cared about this issue for over 15 years. I live in the Chicago area and am daily indebted to the hard work of many immigrants, both legal and illegal, who make the world work smoothly by doing many humble jobs well. My city is full of immigrants and children and grandchildren of immigrants. And businesses started and run by immigrants that add to the economy, not subtract. Here's the thing - when my grandfather immigrated to America from Bohemia just after 1900, all he did was get on a ship, land at Ellis Island, apply for entry, get a medical check-up and he was allowed in and allowed an opportunity. The system is now broken. The laws are broken. The country is much less great than it once was. It was great in that day when it put up a beacon at its front door and inscribed on its base the words "give us your poor, your huddled masses yearning to be free". As those who serve Christ, we must recognize that many of those who come to the US, especially from Latin America are also his servants and our brethren. We should thus stand with them, speaking out for them in truth and grace.


Mark Ahrens


Mark Ahrens commented…

There is immigration reform that is needed to fix broken elements of our system that are affecting the lives of US Citizens. Minor infractions, like marrying your foreign spouse when they are in the US on their valid tourist visa, can currently have lifetime consequences such as a permanent ban from the country that forces the US Citizen to leave the USA in order to be with their Spouse. Other US Citizens can not bring their Spouse to the US because their foreign spouse may have had a record of past drug use (like smoking pot) and our immigration laws don't allow people to immigrate if they have any drug history - no exceptions.

A bi-partisan bill in Congress called HR 3431, the AMERICAN Families United Act, would allow US Citizens separated from their foreign spouses to at least have the "due process" of an immigration judge reviewing their case and reuniting the family in the USA in limited circumstances.


Randy Buist


Randy Buist commented…

The biblical text is clear. We simply prefer other arguments. One of the above comments writes about how immigrants come to American believing they are 'entitled.' Another talks about now laws favor immigrants. I encourage those with these kind of thoughts to spend a few hours learning immigration law or spend time with immigrants. Assumptions are so often so wrong, and it leads to the kind of mess we find ourselves in today.

Steve Barr


Steve Barr commented…

I see the point the author is trying to make - and agree with the premisses of "loving your neighbor" and "justice" (don't forget that "justice without Jesus is an eternal injustice")
However, I do believe that it is naive to just "form a compassionate process of integration for those who have come with a pure purpose of providing for their families." Really . . . ?
Let's see if this works on a smaller level: go home right now - open your front door - and leave it open - then trust that just those who have "pure purposes" will enter and make themselves at home.

Chandler Fayard


Chandler Fayard commented…

Is it Christian to be Politically Conservative on Illegal Immigration?

Jenny Smith


Jenny Smith commented…

I just got paid $ 7500 working off my computer this month. And if you think that's cool, my divorced friend has twin toddlers and made over $ 8 k her first month. It feels so good making so much money when other people have to work for so much less. This is what I do,,



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