Evangelicals Urge Congress to Pursue Pro-Marriage Immigration Policy Changes

Authored by the Evangelical Immigraiton Table and originally published on evangelicalimmigrationtable.com

A coalition of evangelical Christian leaders recently sent a letter to Members of Congress, responding to a new immigration policy announced by the Biden administration. 

These evangelical leaders affirm the goal of the new administrative policy, which is designed to benefit married couples where one spouse is a U.S. citizen and the other is an undocumented immigrant who has been present in the United States for at least 10 years.

Crucially, a U.S. citizen’s spouse who entered the country without authorization is already eligible for legalization — but the process requires many to leave the U.S., with the possibility of being barred from returning for 10 years or longer.

“As evangelical Christians, one of our core principles as we address immigration policy is a belief that God has ordained the family unit and thus that immigration policies should protect the unity of the immediate family,” the letter notes. “Marriage, in particular, was ordained by God in Creation. Reflecting on this truth, Jesus tells his disciples, ‘What God has joined together, let no one separate’ (Matthew 19:6 NIV).” 

“For this reason, we appreciate the policy goals of this executive action, to minimize the instances in which a husband and wife could be separated from one another, which in turn can lead to children being raised without a father or mother,” the letter continues.

Nevertheless, the leaders note the inadequacy of executive action to resolve this urgent concern, given that it could be changed by a future administration and could be subject to legal challenges. 

The letter concludes: “The best way forward … is for the Congress to act, bridging partisan divides to pass legislation that would accomplish these pro-family goals. Whether you support or oppose the Biden administration’s executive action, we urge you to make it unnecessary by passing changes to U.S. immigration laws that would protect the unity of the immediate family.”

The following are quotes from leaders of Evangelical Immigration Table organizations:

Robyn Brown, Director of Immigration Programs, World Relief: 

“Through World Relief’s network of immigration legal service providers, we encounter married couples on a regular basis whom we have to inform of the difficult news that the fact that an individual is married to a U.S. citizen does not necessarily mean that they can live together lawfully in the United States. In some cases, before the change announced this week, a lawfully-married couple may be required to either live apart from one another or live abroad — outside of the U.S. citizen’s homeland — for a decade or more, which sometimes means that their children grow up apart from at least one parent. I’m hopeful that this new policy will keep more families together.”

Walter Kim, President, National Association of Evangelicals: 

“Spousal deportation has been a tragic example of the brokenness of the U.S. immigration system. While marriage to a U.S. citizen opens a path to citizenship, a nearly three-decades old law has required that an immigrant who has been unlawfully present in the United States for one year or more to leave the country and not return for 10 years. This has been heartbreaking for many couples who seek to be right with the law. While the actions announced are a constructive interim step toward strengthening American families, a lasting solution protecting American citizens and their immigrant spouses will require congressional action.”

Gabriel Salguero, President, National Latino Evangelical Coalition: 

“Protecting the unity of the family – and especially between husband and wife – is a core principle as we think about U.S. immigration policy, rooted in the teachings of the Bible. Many pastors of Latino churches have witnessed the devastation caused when a marriage is separated by deportation, and I’m hopeful this new policy will minimize those instances, even while urging Congress to act to protect marriages in more durable, permanent ways.”


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