Attorney general Eric Holder made it clear last week that the federal government would be throttling back on the War on Drugs in an attempt to reduce the number of nonviolent drug offenders in prison. However, the federal government is increasing its prosecution of another group of nonviolent offenders—undocumented immigrants.

According to the Department of Justice, undocumented immigrants are one of the fastest-growing segments of the federal prison population. From 2000 to 2011, the number of federal prisoners sentenced for immigration crimes increased by 70 percent.

Isolated from emotional and economic support in a foreign country, detained immigrants face special difficulties. Furthermore, unlike American citizens, undocumented immigrants are not entitled to court-appointed lawyers, and many cannot afford private representation. Unrepresented immigrants are up to eight times more likely to be deported than those who have counsel.

Crossroad Bible Institute has responded to the need to reach Spanish speakers in the United States. Since 2002, CBI has provided the Tier 1 courses Grandes Verdades de la Biblia and Resumen de la Biblia in Spanish in order to meet the increasing need for a Bible study program in that language. CBI’s Spanish Program currently serves three thousand students, about half of whom are detained for immigration offenses.

CBI has stayed on the forefront of this developing issue and continues to support a biblical approach toward aliens and strangers. Without endorsing specific immigration policies, CBI advocates for the fair and kind treatment of aliens without lawful immigration status (Ex. 22:21; Deut. 1:16; Lev. 19:33; Heb. 13:2).

Moreover, CBI is partnering with organizations such as the Christian Reformed Church’s Office of Social Justice to ensure that all human beings are treated with dignity and given basic human rights. “Christians are called to show the same grace to foreigners that God in Christ has shown us,” said CBI president Dr. David Schuringa, “so that all may come to know the Gospel and be accepted into the family of faith.”