The life of evangelical churches and their spiritual leaders has been portrayed in some recent films and series. Can they help us start conversations?
20-25% of undocumented immigrants in the US are evangelicals and many of them are pillars in their churches and communities.
The case of Pastor Noé Carías has become notorious throughout the United States.
Carías is a pastor of the Assemblies of God in Los Angeles and was detained by agents of migration last July 24. He had presented himself to the migration offices as part of the requirements of his immigration status and did not come back home.
Pastor Carías has been in the United States for over 25 years. His wife and children were born in the United States.
He has been married for 14 years and has two children born in this country of 5 and 7 years. He converted as an adult and became pastor years later. He has been a pastor for many years.
His situation has also highlighted that at this time the Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) has also detained three other evangelical pastors, Julio Morán and Anna Escobar in Georgia and Juan Gutiérrez in Virginia.
On the other hand, Joseph Chicas, Pastor of a church in North Carolina, has requested and received asylum in a local church to avoid being deported.
The pulic opinion, promoted by President Trump, puts the emphasis on the tiny minority of immigrants who have committed some crime.
However, the overwhelming majority of immigrants in the United States are people who contribute to national well-being and the vast majority of them identify themselves as Christians.
For example, 20-25% of undocumented immigrants in the country are evangelicals and many of them are pillars in their churches and communities, like the pastors detained lately.
The eleven million undocumented immigrants are facing a dysfunctional migratory system. They are requested as workforce and are part of the productive sector of the country. But the national political “paralysis” makes it impossible to approve laws which allow them to legalise their immigration status.
Under the administrations of the two previous presidents, Bush and Obama, immigration agents allowed undocumented immigrants who had no judicial record to stayin the country without major problems.
But the Trump administration has changed this practice and has said that undocumented people are prone to deportation, no matter their history or contribution.
In a country that is proud of its Christian and family values, key questions emerge for Christians on all sides of the debate.
Now that the deportations are breaking families and a high percentage of deportees are Christians, how much does that should matter in the discussions? Should Christians think differently about this issue?
In the 1990s, the question originally asked by Rev. Charles Sheldon in 1896 became popular. "What would Jesus do?". How would Jesus deal with this? How should those who call ourselves followers of Christ Jesus deal with it?
In other words, who would Jesus deport? What are the biblical and theological bases for deporting a believer in the faith, when the migration system does not work, and the people they want to exclude are the poor, even though the poor tend to be more Christian than the rich.
Revelation 7: 9,10 poses a future vision in which all believers will be worshiping the Lamb together. Will somebody find a deportee and will have to say "I was the one who worked to get you deported. Because of me your family was destroyed and your children grew up without a father? The Lord forgives us, but will I want to worship the Lamb under these circumstances?
Juan Francisco Martinez, Professor of Hispanic studies and pastoral leadership at Fuller Theological Seminary, USA.