Maya Rhodan at Time Magazine offers a look at how evangelical Protestants view immigration reform in her recent article, “Evangelicals Battle over ‘Biblical’ Immigration.” According to Rhodan, evangelical Protestants face competing concerns when it comes to the issue of immigration, and particularly illegal immigration. The Bible emphasizes the importance of “welcoming the stranger,” while their political and practical concerns lead them to value the importance of abiding by the rule of law and securing the borders. PRRI’s 2013 Immigration Survey suggests that both of these values resonate with white evangelical Protestants, though not quite equally. Nearly two-thirds of white evangelical Protestants say that “following the biblical example of welcoming the stranger” is either an extremely or very important moral guide when considering immigration reform. However, an even higher percentage of white evangelical Protestants are concerned about the rule of law, with 85 percent saying that enforcing the rule of law is an extremely or very important moral guide to considering immigration reform.
Although these findings suggest these values are not equally salient among white evangelical Protestants, the survey also presents a picture of an evangelical community that is more united than divided over the issue of immigration reform. A majority (56 percent) of white evangelical Protestants support a path to citizenship for immigrants who came to the United States illegally, provided they meet certain requirements. Roughly 11 percent say immigrants who came to the United States illegally should be able to become permanent residents but not citizens, while 30 percent say the United States should identify and deport immigrants living in the country illegally.