Why Evangelicals Want Immigration Reform

Changing faces.

Photographer: Jensen Walker/Getty Images

When Donald Trump reversed the Obama-era executive order giving legal status to undocumented immigrants who came to the U.S. as children, he got pushback from religious leaders. Their response illustrates the ways, expected and unexpected, in which immigrants are changing American Christianity.

The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, the go-to religious group for reporters seeking official comment, called the decision “reprehensible.” At least a third of U.S. Catholics are Latino, and one study of Catholic parishes put the number at 40 percent.

Former Trump adviser Steve Bannon, who wants to restrict immigration, charges that bishops were merely acting in their own self-interest. “They need illegal aliens to fill the churches,” Bannon declared in a 60 Minutes interview that aired Sunday, adding, “They have an economic interest in unlimited immigration, unlimited illegal immigration.” Bannon, himself a Catholic, paints a picture of a church in decline that needs a steady flow of newcomers simply to replace its losses.