By Bailey Basham
Matthew Soerens, author of Welcoming the Stranger: Justice, Truth, and Compassion in the Immigration Debates and church training specialist with World Relief, conducted a forum on campus last week about the Christian response to undocumented immigration.
This forum was sponsored by the J.V. Morsch Center of Social Justice, the Evangelical Immigration Table, and G92, a student-led organization that strives to understand and make sense of to others the challenges and opportunities of immigration in ways that are consistent with biblical values of justice, compassion, and hospitality.
“Christians often find themselves torn between the desire to uphold the laws and the call to minister to the vulnerable,” said Soerens in his book Welcoming the Stranger.
The purpose of this discussion was to educate its student and faculty attendees on the U.S. immigration system and the situations facing the millions of undocumented immigrants in our country, including some of Trevecca’s students.
As a part of the undocumented immigration debate, Soerens addressed many economic and political concerns.
“According to the Wall Street Journal, 96 percent of economists say that undocumented immigrants have been beneficial to the economy. On average, foreign-born adults pay $7,826 in taxes while their families receive $4,422 per year in governmental benefits,” said Soerens. “Immigrants make up about 13 percent of the US population. This means they’re buying 13 percent of all the iPads being sold; they’re buying 13 percent of all the McDonald’s cheeseburgers; they make up 13 percent of the nation’s consumers.”
In sponsoring these discussions, it is the hope of G92 that the next generation of Christian leaders will be well-equipped with an effective, biblical response to immigration and those who are affected by it.
“As Christians, we should be looking at it [undocumented immigration] from the position of our faith,” said Soerens. “We can look at it as an opportunity to respond with hospitality to those who are strangers and in need of help, or we can see those people as a threat and respond with hostility.”
Jamie Casler, director of the J.V. Morsch Center of Social Justice said the church was founded on being a source of help to those in need.
“Christians should be welcoming of undocumented immigrants, and we should be asking how we can support those in need. You see your brother or sister in need, you help them,” said Casler. “When we look at them through the lenses of dignity and worth and when we see them as being created in the image of God, we see them as our brothers and sisters in need, and then we can ask ourselves, What can we do to help?”’