Excerpt from Christians at the Border

The following is an excerpt from the preface of Christians at the Border, Second Edition: Immigration, the Church, and the Bible by M. Daniel Carroll R.


Much has changed since the first edition of Christians at the Border appeared in the spring of 2008. At that time, months before President Obama’s election to his first term in office, there was hope that immigration would be an important topic of the campaign. There had been a few attempts at legislation reform in the preceding years, and immigration had occupied the media’s attention. It seemed as if there was some momentum as election activities heated up. But then . . . nothing. Immigration disappeared from the nation’s radar screen. Neither political party wanted to alienate certain sectors of their constituencies.

Little talk about immigration came out of Washington in the first years of the Obama administration, as its efforts centered on a sweeping health care initiative. Immigration eventually reappeared in the media, however, with continued highly emotive reports and declarations coming from all sides of the debate. Piecemeal measures came from the White House, like the DACA memo (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals) in the summer of 2012, which was designed to prevent the removal of qualified undocumented youth, though it did not provide a pathway to legal status. In the election cycle that fall the Hispanic vote and immigration did play a central role, and the Obama reelection seemed to guarantee that immigration reform would become a reality in the near future.

While all this was going on in the political world, something amazing was happening in Christian circles—and this from across the theological spectrum, from the Catholic tradition to mainline and evangelical denominations. Leaders at every level and from all sorts of institutions and ministries were coming together to work for outreach to immigrants in communities across the nation and to advocate for new legislation. Groups that normally do not collaborate were now standing shoulder to shoulder in these efforts.

For me personally, Christians at the Border has generated all kinds of writing opportunities and invitations to speak in many venues in different parts of the country. I have had the privilege of witnessing firsthand this new movement of God as I have interacted with Jews, Roman Catholics, and a wide array of Protestant groups. The gracious commitment to the stranger that is coming from so many directions has been an encouragement to those of us trying to effect change.

These experiences and the changing political landscape have led to this second edition. The historical and legal discussion in the first chapter has been updated, as has the appendix. I have added material to the biblical sections and thoroughly reworked the endnotes. In addition, Samuel Rodríguez and Ron Sider kindly revised their foreword and afterword, respectively.

Hopefully, immigration reform soon will become a reality, if it already has not by the time this revision is published. Yet much work will remain. The people of God will need to continue to be informed about the call to welcome the outsider and to grow in divine hospitality. Negative attitudes and fears do not change immediately with legislation. New laws simply provide a broader arena for working out a perspective in our daily lives that will please the Lord we confess to serve. In other words, what is presented in this book will continue to have relevance for some time to come. My hope is that this second edition of Christians at the Border will be, as was the first, a helpful resource for orienting Christians toward welcoming the strangers in our midst.


©2013 by M. Daniel Carroll R. Published by Brazos Press. Unauthorized use of this material without express written permission is strictly prohibited.