Lessons from the Immigration Debate

When I originally put this post up last night, it was extremely sarcastic. I kind-of liked it, but then I decided it wasn’t charitable enough toward those who disagree with me – so I pulled it. Here, now, is the kinder, gentler, blander version. (Some will note a previous comment that was made to the original post…)

Three observations about the interaction between Christian spirituality and the immigration debate:

1. Jesus’ teachings about loving your neighbor (even your enemies), giving up your coat and cloak to someone who asks, and being a good Samaritan seem to be directly applicable to the way we treat impoverished people who want to participate in the American economy. To love those from other countries is to support policies that give them hope for escaping poverty and disease. I see no way around this. Specifically…

2. I don’t think Jesus would say that we don’t need to love our neighbors simply because the neighbor refuses to obey the laws of our country. This is particularly true where those laws function to keep your neighbor living in squalor. Using the rule of law as a means of avoiding the issue of whether people are being treated justly is a cheap tactic.

3. I am unpersuaded by the arguments that Americans should fight to preserve our “way of life,” our jobs, and our healthcare. The Way of Jesus does not involve building walls around and hoarding resources, jobs, government benefits, etc. I can’t separate my political position on this issue from my own personal conduct. I don’t see how anyone can.

4. Christians, of all people, should be careful about spreading disinformation that is designed to generate fear and anger. For example, a chain email which is now in wide circulation suggests that the Hispanic people have formed a unilateral, paramilitary coalition to take over the American Southwest. As things turn out, much of what the email says is unsubstantiated, and the rest of it comes from statements that were made more than ten years ago by extremist Hispanic politicians. Details can be found here. This tactic is unfair. It attempts to delegitimize and villify the plight of millions of people who would simply like an opportunity to become responsible participants in our robust economy.

5. At the very least, if you’re going to oppose pro-immigration policies, you should find a way to do it that does not appeal to people’s sense of fear, greed, and anger. If you are a follower of Christ, what does your attitude tell the world about Jesus?

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