The National Association of Evangelicals (NAE) today expressed concern about a new Biden administration order closing the border to most asylum seekers and urged Congress to pass comprehensive legislation fixing our broken immigration system. 

“While we welcome efforts by President Biden to safeguard our borders, a one-sided focus on keeping out those seeking our protection is at best a partial solution to a complex issue,” said NAE President Walter Kim. “We don’t have to choose between safety and helping others in harm’s way.”  

In 2009 the National Association of Evangelicals called for legislation that safeguards the nation’s borders, upholds the rule of law, treats immigrants with respect and mercy, unites families, admits enough workers, and provides a viable opportunity for those already in the United States to earn legal status and citizenship. In the absence of such legislation, the U.S. immigration system has become increasingly unworkable, compromising national security and causing much human suffering.  

On Tuesday, President Joe Biden issued an executive order restricting one aspect of our immigration system: the protection of those fleeing persecution. Under this directive, asylum seekers who cross the southern border between official ports of entry will be turned away without their claims being considered when the average number of daily encounters exceeds 2,500. Since the current average exceeds this threshold, the shutdown abruptly went into effect at 12:01 a.m. ET Wednesday morning.  

These restrictions will only be lifted when average encounters drop to a seven-day-daily average of 1,500 and then remain below the 2,500 threshold for two weeks. Historical data suggests these levels will be difficult to attain, meaning the suspension is likely to be in effect for a long time.  

Recent polling by Lifeway Research polling found that 71 percent of evangelicals agree that the United States has a moral responsibility to accept refugees. The National Association of Evangelicals believes the teachings of Jesus encourage Christians to welcome and protect those who are fleeing persecution, including many who have been persecuted for their faith. 

While the order has some exceptions, including protections for unaccompanied minors, the NAE is concerned that this will further encourage unaccompanied minors to attempt dangerous border crossings alone. Families who may have turned themselves in to border agents in order to enter the legal process for seeking asylum will now be incentivized to elude capture by border patrol agents.  

The president’s order does nothing to address worker shortages in key industries, nor does it facilitate family reunification. It leaves Dreamers and other long-term undocumented immigrants with no pathway to earning legal status.  

“In reality, only Congress can make the necessary policy changes and appropriate the needed funds to resolve our immigration problems in a sustainable way,” Kim said. “Members of Congress need to move past blaming each other, and the president, and get to work on sustainable legislation.”