Over 80 evangelicals signed onto a statement this week calling for a restitution-based pathway for immigrants unlawfully residing in the United States to be granted legal permanent residency.
On Wednesday evening, the “Evangelical Call for Restitution-Based Immigration Reform” was announced in Washington, D.C., by the Evangelical Immigration Table, a coalition of evangelical organizations that support comprehensive immigration reform.
The statement was signed by not only the nine leaders of the Evangelical Immigration Table’s principal organizations, but also by pastors and leaders from dozens of evangelical seminaries, churches, Christian colleges, parachurch organizations, and denominational bodies.
The new statement proposes a way forward for people who are in the U.S. illegally without resorting to either mass deportation or amnesty.
“We support a process of restitution (not amnesty) where violation of law is admitted to and significant fines/penalties are paid by immigrants (in installments over a period of seven years) who came illegally (or overstayed a visa) as adults, leading to a pathway to Legal Permanent Residency if qualifications are met,” the statement reads.
Under the plan, immigrants who were brought to the U.S. unlawfully or overstayed a visa as children would also go through a process to get onto a pathway to legal residency if qualifications are met.
“We encourage fairness to taxpayers by requiring that all immigrants be self-sufficient, work, pay taxes and be productive, or be in families and households that are doing so,” the statement explains. “We encourage the government to establish a secure border and an efficient and orderly process of immigration.”
The statement contends that deporting the tens of millions of immigrants who are already in the country illegally is “neither feasible or morally just.”
“Many immigrant families have been here for decades, and many are members of local churches,” the evangelical leaders’ statement stresses. “We must develop a solution that fits the problem we have, solves it by upholding the rule of law, creates a process of restitution and gives the possibility of integration so immigrants can fully participate in American life.”
Notable signatories include Russell Moore, head of the Southern Baptist Convention’s Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission; Leith Anderson, retiring president of the National Association of Evangelicals; Danny Akin, president of the Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary; pastor James Merritt of Cross Pointe Church in Duluth, Georgia; pastor Claude Alexander of The Park Church in Charlotte, North Carolina; and pastor Derwin Gray of the multiracial Transformation Church in South Carolina.
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SOURCE: Christian Post, Michael Gryboski