BRIDGTON — As the senior pastor at Lake Region Vineyard Church, my personal approach toward immigration policy is framed by a conservative, faith-based perspective – a perspective that acknowledges that those of us fortunate enough to be born in America didn’t choose to be; we are here because of God’s grace.

In the same way, young undocumented immigrants known as “dreamers” didn’t choose where they would be born – they were brought to the United States as children. Someone else’s choice brought them here in hope of providing an opportunity to experience the blessings so many of us have access to as “natives” of this country.

These blessings or resources are not infinite. They are also not, as some may argue, so limited that we cannot find a way to share them with those less fortunate. We have the privileged opportunity and responsibility of being wise and generous stewards to all who desire to live in a land of opportunity.

Many have argued that undocumented immigrants take too much and are a drain on society and that we cannot afford to harbor them. But I ask that we consider this: Many dreamers don’t want to take our resources. They want to be a resource, contributing to America and helping to build a strong country for future generations.

Why not create for them a path to citizenship so that they can join the military, or go to college, or enter the workforce and pay taxes into the economy? Why should we do the very un-Christian (and economically wasteful) thing of sending them back to countries they barely remember? It doesn’t make any sense to say “turn around and go home,” especially since this is the only home many of them have ever known, now that they’re already here.

Of course we must protect our country, and that means a strong national security policy. As a conservative, I believe it would be foolish to allow for wide-open borders.

America has always been a welcoming country to all, but we still should know who is coming in and going out of our home and why. Perhaps that will require hiring more border security officers or better utilizing the technology that’s available today. Aren’t there already systems in place that could simply be better resourced and enforced? That’s something for Congress to decide.

But what I do know is that immigration reforms that would make our border more secure are not at odds with immigration reforms that would grant dreamers a pathway to citizenship. In fact, they can – and should – be part of a package deal.

Fortunately, I’m not alone in my thinking. According to a new national survey from the advocacy group New American Economy and TargetPoint Consulting, 80 percent of conservative and Republican voters support a deal to increase border security in exchange for protections for dreamers.

And when you poll the voters in President Trump’s base (defined by the survey as “those who voted for Trump, approve of him today, support a Republican congressional candidate in the 2018 elections and identify as Republican”), the approval rating jumps to 86 percent.

A dreamer-border security deal also does well among key conservative voting blocs. Eighty percent of frequent church attendees want dreamers to have a pathway to citizenship, and 78 percent support a deal to increase border security in exchange for seeing these young people protected.

However, the addressing of important life-changing issues that require bipartisan cooperation often does not happen because the discussion becomes centered on how this will affect voting in future elections.

My hope is that our elected leaders could see beyond the rhetoric that too often perpetuates division, villainizes those who may disagree, stifles honest dialogue and places an emphasis on which side “wins” in this discussion. We must not forget what is most important: that we should, with all humility and wisdom, realize we carry the responsibility of influencing the future lives of millions of fellow human beings. We are blessed so that we may bless.

I believe Congress can find a way to vote “yes” on a dreamer-border security deal. Sensibly creating a pathway for dreamers to remain in this country legally so they can contribute is what’s best for everyone. I believe we finally have the middle ground our country needs to move forward toward a better, stronger future for all of God’s children.