Wednesday, May 10, 2017

ILLEGAL PEOPLE?


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."

6 comments:

Dennis said...

DACA: an Obama legacy

From The Monterey Herald: Dreamer Not Deported
The deportation order for a "Dreamer" was rescinded when the government learned it had mistaken the illegal immigrant for a gang member. The illegal immigrant's status was changed to a temporary legal status through Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA).
Since Trump signed executive orders regarding immigration enforcement priorities, ICE officials say they have arrested more than 41,000 people nationwide who are either known or suspected of being in the country illegally, a nearly 40 percent increase over the same period in 2016. Almost 75 percent of those arrested during this period in 2017 are convicted criminals, with offenses ranging from homicide and assault to sexual abuse and drug-related charges, ICE officials say.
source: http://www.montereyherald.com/article/NF/20170613/NEWS/170619920

From The Patriot Post: DACA Unchallenged
Fast-forward six months into Trump’s presidency, and while general enforcement is up and border crossings are down, little has changed on DACA. The president’s supporters are deeply concerned over the continuation of DACA, and his seemingly nonchalant attitude toward addressing the problem.
source: https://patriotpost.us/articles/49690

From The Oklahoman: DACA to Remain in Effect
The Homeland Security Department said Thursday that the program [DACA] would "remain in effect." "The future of the DACA program continues to be under review with the administration," Jonathan Hoffman, an assistant secretary for public affairs at Homeland Security, said in a statement. He added that while only Congress can decide the fate of these immigrants, Trump has said the issue needs to be handled "with compassion and with heart." DACA was intended to be a stopgap measure to protect young immigrants while Congress worked on a broader immigration overhaul. Such legislation has not materialized. While DACA doesn't offer a legal immigration status, a path to citizenship, and or any permanent protections, it does provide approved immigrants with a valuable work permit good for two years at a time. The protections are revocable at any time if an immigrant runs afoul of the law or becomes a threat to public safety or national security [or Congress changes the law].

Dennis said...

Immigration Policy and Enforcement

Is your abhorrence of our bombastic President clouding your judgement? The primary difference between the current and past president with regard to immigration is not the immigration laws; Congress hasn't changed them since the inauguration. The difference is that the current president is encouraging, rather than discouraging, ICE and CBE to do their jobs and enforce immigration law.
As a matter of immigration policy, the United States government can allow or exclude any person, group, or class of persons for any reason. As a matter of enforcement of immigration laws, the priority is to protect US citizens with regard to national security, public safety, and public health. It is the responsibility of CBP (Customs and Border Protection) to exclude the Jihad Johnnies, Typhoid Marys, and Mexican Mafiosi. It is the responsibility of ICE (Immigration and Customs Enforcement) to track down and deport said persons.
Comparing Trump and Obama's Deportation Priorities: https://bipartisanpolicy.org/blog/comparing-trump-and-obamas-deportation-priorities/

70 arrested during ICE raid in Dallas & OKC:
https://www.ice.gov/news/releases/70-arrested-dallas-and-oklahoma-areas-during-3-day-ice-operation-targeting-criminal

CPB Overview: https://www.cbp.gov/about

Border Patrol Overview: https://www.cbp.gov/border-security/along-us-borders/overview

Dennis said...

Travel Ban from 6 terror sponsoring countries

From The Daily Signal: We finally have a president who is serious about securing our borders and keeping Americans safe. Texas Attorney General is leading a multistate coalition to petition the Supreme Court to permit the president to exercise his lawful authority to protect the homeland.
source: http://dailysignal.com/2017/06/06/trumps-temporary-travel-pause-lawful-protects-homeland/

Dennis said...

Metro Churches Respond to Illegal Immigrants

The Oklahoman: Churches offer sanctuary for illegals

The Rev. Lori Walke, associate pastor of Mayflower Congregational United Church of Christ, said the idea of offering these immigrants some sort of sanctuary has become so popular with churches across the country that an organization called Insurance Board created a webinar for congregations to gain knowledge on the issue. Insurance Board, a nonprofit corporation,…administers a property and liability insurance program serving churches and related entities within four denominations, including the United Church of Christ, Christian Church (Disciples of Christ), Presbyterian Church USA and Alliance of Baptists.
source: http://www.oklahoman.com/offering-sanctuary/article/5551254

The Oklahoman: Nazarenes offer immigration assistance

Led by a strong desire to help the "stranger among us," an Oklahoma City church has opened a center offering consultation and assistance to immigrants. The Immigration Center at Western Oaks Church of the Nazarene opened June 1 at 7901 NW 16, near the intersection of NW 16 and Council Road.
source: http://www.oklahoman.com/article/5552969?newsletter=email

Bill Ball said...

Dennis, I appreciate the wealth of data that you gave. I recognize that there are many facets to the immigration question. However I feel that you and I are looking at the problem from different starting points. I believe that I must approach every issue of ethics, even of politics, as a follower of Jesus and a believer in the authority of the Scripture. My critiques were aimed primarily at those who claim to be followers of Christ, who also are white and Americans. I believe that when the laws and customs of this country are contrary to the word of God, I have both the right and responsibility to speak out.

John Kulp said...

I suspect that in America this issue doesn't hinge on the biblical "golden rule" you describe, being kind to immigrants, but on our American "golden rule" - "those who hold the gold make the rules". Illegal immigration has always been allowed here with a wink-wink, nod-nod from law enforcement - when wealthy americans needed cheap labor to harvest crops by hand across the Midwest or fruit in California; or to build things from cross country railroads to new homes in the Southwest or to provide cheap labor as household servants or for cleaning hotel rooms. In my high school in the 1960's I had a friend named Tamara Chatton who would start the school year with us and then disappear in late October when her parents finished harvesting in the fields of Northern Indiana. Neither she or her parents or siblings were "legal"; but no one cared.

Today's focus on illegal immigration is political. Immigrants per capita are less likely to commit crimes, less likely to collect entitlements, and more likely to to work hard and start a small business than the general US population. Populists raising fear of them by claiming that Mexico is sending us "rapists and criminals" and over-focusing on anecdotal stories of immigrant crime (and irrational fear of ISIS terrorists coming across our southern border) are voicing a political rallying call that will excite and unify people who share, or can be convinced of those fears. Too many Christians have become convinced that their "right and wrong" focused Christianity is aligned with and justifies those fears.

As is almost always the case, hatred and fear are easy to be drawn into and justify as an issue of right or wrong, when issues are only intellectual concepts. But when we interact face to face with a "dreamer" or a quiet innocent illegal immigrant like my friend Tamara (who I knew was trying to keep up with her studies from a crowded one-room migrant shack), it's the opposite. It's hard not to love and accept others face to face. The biblical behavior of Christians, including being kind to aliens, is never about intellectual concepts (Mark 2:23-28). It is always about people; real people who live and breathe and need to be loved and respected and thereby be drawn to the one who died for us all.