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Thursday, May 8, 2014 12:01 am

Immigration reform is a family value

 Every single day hundreds of families are needlessly torn apart through a broken and inhumane deportation system badly in need of reform. Last year alone more than 368,000 people were deported and by the end of 2014, more than 2 million will have been deported during the Obama administration.

Two million.

This is a startling number, a number that represents sons pulled away from their fathers, daughters torn from the arms of their mothers, husbands ripped from the arms of their wives. No matter where you stand on the issue of immigration, one thing has become very clear: Immigration reform is a family values issue and it must be fixed now.

On April 29, more than 250 evangelical pastors from 25 states descended upon Washington, D.C., to advocate for sensible immigration reform with our elected representatives. We shared stories from our congregations of families torn apart, and of children left in limbo, demonstrating the effects of a broken immigration system that destroys the fabric of our nation. We spoke of the need to maintain respect for the rule of law, meaning there can be no blanket amnesty or guarantee of citizenship and those who entered the country illegally should admit their wrongdoing, pay fines and back taxes, submit to background checks, and demonstrate their ability to support themselves. Undocumented immigrants who desire citizenship should take their place in line behind those who have begun that process, meaning there should be no special pathway for those who entered the country illegally.

The Evangelical Immigration Table is a consortium of evangelical pastors from around the country who have banded together around these sensible solutions we believe are not only necessary but possible to achieve right now, if Congress will act.

Immigration reform elicits a great deal of passion on both sides of the aisle, but as a Christian, it is imperative to remember that every person, documented or undocumented, is created in the Image of God and precious in his sight. You and I may be Americans, but the church transcends boundaries and borders. For us, “there is one Body, one Spirit, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all” (Ephesians 4:4-6). Though we may be American or Mexican, Syrian or Italian, we are all brothers and sisters in Christ. It is time for us to start seeing our brothers and sisters, to fight for our brothers and sisters, to speak up and speak out for our brothers and sisters who have no voice.

In the words of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., “Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere. We are caught in an inescapable network of mutuality, tied in a single garment of destiny. Whatever affects one directly, affects all indirectly.”

We are caught in a great moral crisis that seeks to destroy the sacred bonds of families, a dilemma that tears at the very fabric of our nation. This is a crisis that as Christians we must stand with our brothers and sisters and let our voices be heard. For the very words of Scripture say,

“The Lord your God... defends the cause of the fatherless and widows,     and He loves immigrants, giving them food and clothing. That means you     must also love immigrants” (Deuteronomy 10:17-19).

Scripture is not silent. It bursts with commands for us to love the immigrant, to care for the immigrant, to speak on behalf of the immigrant, documented or not. And where Scripture speaks, so should we. It is not only time for the church to speak loudly, but it is time for Congress to take action today because every day we wait, more and more families are torn apart by this inhumane and archaic system.

Aaron Monts is a Springfield resident, local pastor, Ph.D. student and member of the Evangelical Immigration Table.

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