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Immigration

“Do not forget to show hospitality to strangers, for by so doing some people have shown hospitality to angels without knowing it” (Hebrews 13:2).

In the Bible, strangers are often used by God to bring blessing. Immigrants today are a blessing to our congregations, communities, families, economy, and country. They are created in the image of God. And God expressly, and repeatedly, commands us to welcome the stranger.

What are practical ways your church can follow this command? Whether immigrants are already part of your neighborhood or living in communities farther away, the resources in these pages are meant to help individuals and congregations navigate this important conversation and get involved to bring about immigration reform. 

Take Action

Loving our neighbor can take many forms, including advocacy. In order to have more just laws supporting our immigrant brothers and sisters, we can love our neighbor by contacting our congressional representatives. To make it easier for you to contact your elected leaders, we send out action alerts, which are are periodic calls for action relating to our main justice issues. Check out the action alerts below and sign up to stay-up-to-date with new opportunities for advocacy!

Immigration Updates & Action Alerts

Stay up to date on immigration news and legislation in the United States and learn about timely opportunities to get involved. Be sure to check the 'Immigration' special updates box on the signup form.

Resources

Whether immigrants are already part of your neighborhood or living in communities farther away, these resources are meant to help individuals and congregations navigate this important conversation and get involved to bring about immigration reform. 

What does the Bible say about immigration?

When it comes to divisive issues like immigration, how do we think about them as Christians? In this video, Rev. Kate Kooyman shares themes from the Bible that can help us think faithfully about immigration - which is all over Scripture.

people of different ages, ethnicities, and genders stand outside wearing t-shirts with the words "immigrants are a blessing not a burden"

Blessing Not Burden

We've been told that immigrants are a burden. Scripture teaches they're a blessing. We're a community of Christians changing the conversation.

Church Between Borders Workshop

This interactive workshop helps participants understand the brokenness of the U.S. immigration system, immigration policy throughout U.S. history, and how we can advocate for a more just system. 

workshop participants put sticky notes on a posterboard

Immigration is Our Story Workshop

To hear one another’s immigration stories and learn about immigration in the U.S. both yesterday and today, engage your congregation in the “Immigration Is Our Story” workshop created by the CRC’s Office of Social Justice and Faith Formation Ministries.

a collage of pictures of people with the text "Immigration is Our Story!"

Immigration is Our Story Audio Series

The Christian Reformed Church was established by immigrants. We've collected stories through recorded interviews of CRC and RCA members' immigration stories to to remind us of where many of us came from and what we have in common with today's immigrants.

Immigration and Refugees YouTube Playlist

"What does the Bible say about immigration?" and "How does the U.S. immigration system work?" Explore responses to these questions and more on our YouTube channel.

International Students Speak

Events in the U.S. in 2020 brought to light the profound impact that immigration policies can have on the opportunities and plans of international students. Explore these international students stories in this timeline and Do Justice series.

The God Who Sees

Karen Gonzalez - a speaker, writer, and immigrant advocate originally from Guatemala - invites readers to hear the stories of biblical characters that fled their homelands in her book, "The God Who Sees: Immigrants, the Bible, and the Journey to Belong."

National Immigration Forum Immigration Primer

Immigration Primer

This resource from the National Immigration Forum gives you a concise overview of the history of U.S. immigration, how the current system works and doesn't work, and what can be done to fix it.

10 Ways Churches Can Welcome Immigrants

Ten Ways Churches Can Welcome Immigrants

What are practical ways your church can follow God's command to welcome the stranger? This Ten Ways Tool contains ten ideas for showing hospitality and experiencing the blessings immigrants can bring.

Worship

image contents: a prayer titled "Immigrants Are a Blessing Litany"

Immigrants are a Blessing Litany: remember the blessing of the "stranger" throughout scripture and give thanks for our immigrant and refugees neighbors.

The Immigrant's Creed: invite your congregation to express the Christian faith through the experience of an immigrant.

border wall painted with text "I was a stranger and you welcomed me" - Jesus

Immigration Sermons: explore sermons submitted from pastors across the CRC as part of our immigration preaching challenge!

Prayer for Asylum Seekers at the Border: pray for the safety and dignity of those migrating at the border.

 

Go Deeper

Synod and Immigration Reform

In 2007 the migration of workers came onto synod’s agenda by way of an overture from Classis Zeeland, which had appointed a study committee to address a pastoral concern arising from one of its congregations. The local church had engaged in ministry to migrant workers for several years, offering ESL classes, Bible studies, and other kinds of practical help to families in need, including occasional legal assistance for immigration and work status.

The congregation wanted to receive into membership some of these families who professed faith in Christ, but given the strong Reformed tradition of refusing admittance to the Lord’s table to persons known to persist in sinful behavior, they asked for advice from Classis Zeeland to determine if living without status in a country was inconsistent with the demands for life lived according to God’s will.

Unhappily, due to the presentation in the overture, the broader issue of ministering to immigrant neighbors and addressing their needs was eclipsed by a discussion that focused on church discipline. Synod 2007 did not accede to the overture, deeming it unwise to recommend the classis report “to the churches for study, discussion, and application,” and lamenting the hurt caused by the tone and narrow focus of the overture (Acts of Synod 2007, p. 595-596).

However, Synod 2007 did recognize the need to address the conditions under which undocumented migrants in both Canada and the United States live, so it formed a committee to report and recommend how the CRC might better address the needs of persons who are marginalized by their lack of legal status.

In 2010, the committee presented its report to synod on “the issue of the migration of workers as it relates to the church’s ministries of inclusion, compassion, and hospitality, and to propose ways for the church to advocate on behalf of those who are marginalized" (Acts of Synod 2007, p. 596).

In response to the 2010 synodical Report on the Migration of Workers, synod adopted thirteen recommendations on areas including education and awareness, ministry of mercy and compassion, and justice and advocacy (Acts of Synod 2010, p.875.)

Synod reaffirmed that the church treat all individuals as image bearers of God regardless of ethnicity, background, or legal status, and that God’s Word consistently directs Christians to welcome the strangers in their midst and to extend special care to the most vulnerable in society.

Synod calls CRC churches to take action in a variety of ways:

Educate

In an issue that has become politically polarized, it’s essential for Christians to engage in thoughtful study and discussion of the economic, political, social, and spiritual issues involved in the church’s ministry with immigrant people. This can include the study of the 2010 Report on the Migration of Workers.

Show Compassion

Following our scriptural calling to welcome the stranger, we demonstrate Christ’s love to the marginalized, offering assistance for needy immigrants and for their children in terms of financial assistance, food, clothing, and shelter.

Advocate

We call on our elected officials to reform immigration laws in the United States and Canada so that they may be fair, just, and equitable regarding persons without legal status.

The U.S. immigration system is outdated. It is based on a system that was created over 50 years ago, and it has not been adapted to meet today’s employment or security needs.

It is ineffective. Those who do have a path to legal immigration face decades-long wait times. Most industries that rely on immigrant labor face a chronic shortage of visas. And most immigrants simply don’t have a legal way to come -- especially those who are poor.

And it is inhumane. Families are too often separated by deportation. People are forced to live in poverty and in the shadows. Children are put in detention centers or denied a safe place to flee from violence.

 

We recognize the blessings that immigrants are to our congregations, communities, families, economy, and country. They are created in the image of God. And God expressly, and repeatedly, commands us to welcome the stranger.

“The LORD your God . . . executes justice for the orphan and the widow, and . . . loves the strangers, providing them food and clothing. You shall also love the stranger, for you were strangers in the land of Egypt.” - Deuteronomy 10:17-18

 

Laws are meant to be followed, not ignored. But our current laws are broken -- they don’t work for employers, the economy, or immigrants themselves. Broken laws should be fixed.

In the United States we are advocating, as partners with the Evangelical Immigration Table, for a bipartisan solution on immigration that

  • respects the God-given dignity of every person.
  • protects the unity of the immediate family.
  • respects the rule of law.
  • guarantees secure national borders.
  • ensures fairness to taxpayers.
  • establishes a path toward legal status and/or citizenship for those who qualify and who wish to become permanent residents.

World Renew

We partner with World Renew to help CRC congregations engage the issue of immigration. Through partnering with the Office of Social Justice, World Renew hopes that churches will come to understand the root causes of immigration and become part of a faith-rooted effort to change the conversation from one of division to one of hospitality.

You! (And your church!)

We want to partner with you and your congregation to spread the message that Immigrants are a Blessing, not a Burden. There are four important ways a church can engage deeply in immigration work: learning and sharing the myths and facts, reflecting a care for immigrants during worship, having meaningful connections with immigrant communities and organizations, and effectively advocating for more just policies. Learn more about our Blessing not Burden campaign and sign the pledge to become Blessing not Burden Partner!