Are those who enter (or remain) in our country without proper documentation "illegals"? Are they criminals? Are they unworthy of compassion, even though they may have arrived here seeking refuge from persecution, war or poverty? Apparently many Americans, including those who claim to be followers of Jesus, believe so.
On a previous post (A Child of Immigrants) - I argued that most of us Americans are "children of immigrants" as I myself am. I pointed out that some of my ancestors may have been refugees and that those who had arrived in the 17th century did so "without official clearance from the residents who had preceded them ... "
The only comment I received was "Like the liberal blowhard of the lame stream media, you have missed the point ... The issue is illegal immigration ..."
I replied rather tackily that I considered being identified as a "liberal blowhard" was a compliment and then forgot the comment.
Later I have had second thoughts and I realize that while I had retorted to a perceived slam against me, I had ignored what my reader was saying about the perceived danger of "illegal immigration." So I feel I need to say more.
There are many in America who have entered this country "illegally." There are quite a few who have entered legally but have stayed beyond the permitted time. This may include students, tourists, those who visit for business reasons and so forth. These would also be included among the "illegals." Then there are many who have permanent visas, green cards or other legal papers. Add to these the many refugees who seek refuge here - again through legal channels. Our present administration is seeking both to rid our nation of those perceived to be illegals (especially brown, Spanish speaking ones) and to keep out those who are attempting to enter legally. And we're told that the majority of Americans applaud these actions.
I don't know about the person who commented on my previous post, but there are many nativists who don't distinguish between those who have entered legally and those who entered illegally.
I suspect that the problem which many perceive is not a problem having to do with whether or not certain persons hold a particular piece of paper, but a problem having to do with the outward appearances of those persons. Their skin is darker than mine; they talk funny; they wear strange head coverings or clothing; they worship differently - maybe they even worship different gods!
As I have mentioned in that previous post, my mother came to this country as a child, from Austria. While her parents retained much of their old world culture and German accents, Mom became pretty well-integrated as an American. She left behind much of what would distinguish her (except that in her speech she'd occasionally revert to a different word order than English). One day I heard her complain angrily, "There are too many foreigners coming into this country!"
"Mom!" I replied. "How can you say that? You were a 'foreigner' once yourself."
I could see and hear her anger rising as she replied, "You know what I mean!"
Unfortunately I did know what she meant. She meant what many of our indignant complainers of today mean, "There are too many brown-skinned, strange talking heathen coming into America."
I think it's time we white native born "Christian" Americans wake up to the fact that our indignation against these people may be based not on concern for their legal status, but on our own racial and religious bigotry.
But now we don't have to call them by those racial or ethnic slurs (that say more about those who use them than about those of whom they are used), we can simply call them "illegals" and self-righteously demand that our government do something about them and applaud when this happens.
Leviticus 19:33-34: "When a stranger sojourns with you in your land, you shall not do him wrong. You shall treat the stranger who sojourns with you as the native among you, and you shall love him as yourself; for you were strangers in the land of Egypt. I am the LORD your God."
This passage does not distinguish whether the "stranger" is "legal" or "illegal."