The Immigration Debate
The alien who resides with you shall be to you as the citizen among you; you shall love the alien as yourself, for you were aliens in the land of Egypt: I am the Lord your God.
Immigration reform is the hot button issue in the news over the last couple weeks. This was a subject that was discussed when I was a delegate to Atlanta 2003. The questions being discussed are of incredible importance to Christian communities who are seeking to be faithful to Scripture. Who is my neighbor? What would we do if SMC were confronted with these issues more directly like our fellow Christians in the Pacific Southwest? In light of the debate that is taking place in the U.S. Senate, it is possible that giving aid to illegal immigrants will be considered criminal activity.
The debate on immigration reform has now turned to the U.S. Senate. Late last week, the Senate Judiciary Committee began discussion of Chairman Arlen Specter’s (R-Pa.) immigration reform bill. While Specter’s proposal is a marked improvement over H.R. 4437, the troubling provisions in the House bill could still be enacted in Specter’s proposal, or in a bill from Majority Leader Bill Frist (R-Tenn.) A Senate bill on immigration may include expanding the definition of alien smuggling to criminalize the everyday activities of doctors, teachers, and community workers, and denying protection to refugees and battered immigrants who used falsified documents to flee an oppressor. While Specter’s proposal includes a guest worker program, it does not provide a path to citizenship for the 11 to 12 million hard-working undocumented immigrants who comprise a vital part of the American workforce. In short, the bills the Senate is debating flatly deny opportunity, hope, and security to some of the most vulnerable among us.
I have decided to take action and express the convictions that arise out of my reading of Scripture to my political representatives. I believe the Christian community must speak up for the poor and the vulnerable aliens in our midst. We must question the wisdom of a bill that will criminalize the acts of compassion by our Christian brothers and sisters in the border regions of the United States. Humanitarian acts of compassion by doctors, teachers, community workers and churches on behalf of those in need.
Is this yet another set of issues that inevitably produces a conflict of interests for those who are seeking to live according to the teachings of Jesus and in allegiance to the Kingdom of God rather than the self-interests of a nation-state?