A recent survey released by the Public Research Religion Institute looked at how Americans view immigrants and what Americans want from immigration reform.
The survey separates findings by age, race, ethnicity, religious affiliation, and party affiliation. Therefore the facts and figures presented are very interesting and quite specific. This survey offers a valuable glimpse into how some in your congregation/ community view immigration and immigration reform – which is important to consider! (However, remember, this is a survey.)
The survey found that a majority of Americans support immigration reform that includes a path towards citizenship.
“Americans express consistent support for providing immigrants who are currently living in the country illegally with a path citizenship. More than six in ten (62%) Americans say immigrants who are currently living here illegally should be allowed a way to become citizens provided they meet certain requirements, while 15% say these immigrants should be allowed to become permanent legal residents but not citizens, and about one in five (19%) say illegal immigrants should be identified and deported.”
The survey’s findings related to religious affiliation, specifically of evangelical Protestants, was quite intriguing.
“A majority (55 percent) of young white evangelicals believe that immigrants strengthen the country, compared to 33 percent who believe they are a threat. These views contrast starkly with those of white evangelical seniors, who are much more likely to say that recent immigrants threaten (57 percent) than strengthen (23 percent) the country. Among white evangelical Protestants overall, 32 percent say recent immigrants strengthen the country, compared to 53 percent who say they are a threat.”
Soon we will release a second blog post about this survey. This blog post will look critically at the findings of the study.
While it is important to study how our county views immigrants, it is important to remember how God views immigrants and let God direct your future steps. We believe that according to the Bible God wants believers to welcome all people – including immigrants. Check out these past blog posts to find out why God would want us to love immigrants.
Whether your church opened a legal clinic last month or you are just starting to notice the immigrants living in your neighborhood, I would encourage you to reflect on this survey yet do not make future ministry decisions based on this survey. Yes, a critical way to meet the needs of immigrants is through offering legal counsel and chances are there is not a nearby church offering legal counsel services. Yet such decisions need to be made with much prayer and discussion with your church staff and board/elders.
This survey may encourage you in the work your church is already doing or it could cause you to question starting a ministry related to immigrants. Remember, we must not look to man for a pat on the back when we are following God’s prompting. And we cannot forget the beauty and healing that comes when cultural boundaries are mutually crossed.
The Immigration Alliance is a national, collaborative effort that equips churches across the country to provide critical immigration legal services to under-resourced immigrants. We do this through cultivating relationships among immigrants and churches in order that the Church might become an epicenter of multi-national welcome and community.