Evangelicals push from the right for immigration reform with ‘The Stranger’ documentary

[dropcap]A[/dropcap]pproaches to U.S. immigration policy for years have divided the political right, mainly setting church groups apart from a powerful activist wing of the base that resists reform in favor of greater border security and deportation.

Democrats and pro-reform political groups have met steady resistance from Republican lawmakers to a comprehensive approach that would establish paths to citizenship for the millions of adult and child immigrants already here and living illegally in the country. Generally conservative Catholic and Evangelical groups may have more success persuading Republican voters and politicians to take another look at the issue.

Toward that end, a group called the Evangelical Immigration Table recently released a documentary called “The Stranger” about the realities of immigration in the country today and Biblical teachings on how to approach “the strangers” who live among us. Jubilee Fellowship Church in Lone Tree, Colorado, is showing the movie tonight at 6:30. It’s one of 2,100 screenings scheduled in 45 states so far, according to a release on the film.

“[The Lone Tree showing] comes at a key moment, as attention focuses on unaccompanied migrant children who have entered the United States,” reads the release. “Following the film, local leaders will participate in a panel discussion on the film and the current humanitarian crisis of unaccompanied minors… The film highlights the moral imperatives for reform, including the immense human costs our current system exacts on our churches, our families and our communities.”

The movie features business owners, undocumented immigrants, pastors and others. In the trailer, Meghan Smith, a pastor’s wife, makes her case:

“God commands the Israelites over and over again, ‘You were foreigners, you were slaves in Egypt, therefore welcome the stranger among you, welcome the alien in your midst.’ So if we as Christians believe the Bible… if we take God at what he says, if we want to obey god’s commands, we need to welcome the stranger.”

Bert Lemkes, a business owner, says current law and much current debate about reform miss the point. He says that, for every job undocumented immigrants do, there are jobs upstream and downstream for citizens that will disappear if the immigrants are forced out of the country.

“Your fruits and vegetables will be picked by foreign hands — either inside the border or outside the border,” he says.