The Church Must Continue to Respond on Immigration

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Dr. Mark S. Young is the President of Denver Seminary.

This summer, just as we do every summer, we celebrated the independence of our country and the freedom we enjoy as American citizens. This freedom gives us the ability to worship, to work, and to move freely about the United States without fear.

However, for more than 11 million undocumented immigrants currently residing in our country, this freedom is not an option. And now, hundreds of children with no hope of enjoying that same freedom in their own countries are flocking to the United States, crossing the border in search of safety and an opportunity to escape lawlessness, violence, poverty and corruption.

As an evangelical Christian and an American citizen, I am concerned with the response to the families and children who are coming into our country.

By law, government agencies must house the undocumented, unaccompanied children who are detained until there is a safe place for them to go while they await deportation proceedings. So far, housing and care for these children has been inadequate, to say the least.

However, Christians and churches across the country are working with the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services to find foster homes and other housing options. The compassion and care Christians are showing for these children follows the biblical command to love our neighbors, and it is the response all Christians should have to the current immigration situation.

We also should be engaged is supporting the work of local churches in the home countries of these immigrants. Three decades of working in several countries throughout the developing world has convinced me that local churches, when properly resourced and led, can meet the basic needs that drive many of these children to seek refuge in the United States. In addition we need to urge church leaders in Central America to combat misinformation about immigration that traffickers use to prey on the poor.

Immigration has become a complex political issue in our country, but as Christians, we can bring a powerful moral voice that goes beyond the politics.

Immigrants who come to our country are human beings, and they deserve respect and dignity as members of God's creation. How we treat immigrants reflects our view of God and His image bearers. Many people coming to our country either are Christians now or are becoming Christians here. The fastest growing part of the American church is the immigrant church.

The administration and our local law enforcement officials are bound by current immigration policies. But these policies are broken. They not only fail to effectively deal with the current humanitarian crisis on our southern border, but also contribute to the influx of undocumented immigrants.

I lament the unrealized potential of our country caused by broken immigration policy.

So I pray that Congress finds the resources necessary to provide the basic humanitarian services guaranteed by law to undocumented and unaccompanied children that come into our country.

I pray that Congress creates a clear process that provides ways for immigrants to become contributing American citizens and combats the activities of traffickers who profit from our broken system.

And I pray that our members of Congress will soon realize the urgency.

The legislative process in the United States regarding immigration has come to a standstill, but a life of doubt and fear continues for thousands of men, women and children who are detained or living in the shadows and facing possible deportation.

Even if Congress continues to abrogate its political and moral responsibilities, the Church must continue to respond. Waiting is not an option.

Dr. Mark S. Young is the President of Denver Seminary.