“Then I will draw near to you for judgment. I will be a swift witness against the sorcerers, against the adulterers, against those who swear falsely, against those who oppress the hired worker in his wages, the widow and the fatherless, against those who thrust aside the sojourner, and do not fear me, says the Lord of hosts.” -Malachi 3:5.
Honestly, I could write about 10 posts on that one – but I only have time to write one today. When it comes to theological matters and divisions in the American church, I find that the more “conservative” groups (church groups, mind you) tend to be right more often. That is, they tend to hold unashamedly to the gospel and the difficult messages in it, without fear of consequences. When this observation starts to unravel (and it does often enough), politics are usually involved. Many an organization of good, God-fearing folks has been corrupted by the politics of the day.
That’s what brings us to today’s post. One area where I am confounded by the ceding of moral high ground by “the right” is on the issue of immigration … “the sojourner in the land” as the old King James puts it. There are millions, literally millions, of people in this country illegally who have come here to flee deplorable living conditions in their homelands and attempt to make a better life for themselves. Our attitude toward such folks ought to be “come on in”. It isn’t though. Instead we make some nonsensical claims about “these people don’t respect our laws – they broke them by just coming here”. Look guys, when you’re fleeing oppression, pain, and death, you really don’t care about picking up a speeding ticket along the way.
It is at this point that the twisted logic of the political conservatives begins. Let’s consider a few arguments, shall we?
“These people don’t respect our laws” – we already covered that one.
“Criminals are coming across the border and causing havoc for law enforcement and the citizenry.” We’ve created a wonderful atmosphere in which those who come here with honest intentions and those who come here with nefarious intentions must follow the same path (likely through the Arizona desert). This argument basically leads to throwing the baby out with the bath water. If we were willing to let the good, hard-working types in then maybe we could be a bit more discerning with those having criminal pasts. But as long as the door is slammed shut, the good and bad will continue to flow in by the only means possible.
“They don’t speak the language” – then they should learn. With the exception of the Irish and English, most European immigrants in the last great boom didn’t speak English either. But their kids learned to.
“They are putting an untenable strain on social programs” – GOOD! maybe we’ll get rid of those ill-conceived attempts to “help” people and look for a better solution. Don’t get me started on the “those who oppress the hired worker in his wages, the widow and the fatherless” portion of the Malachi quote. I only have time for one post. I will say that the conservatives are missing a golden political opportunity (one that carries, in my humble opinion, the benefit of being on the right side of the moral debate). If pro-immigrant groups will agree with us to end all federal-level social programs (particularly welfare, but medicare, medicaid, and social-security also have their problems though supposedly not directly wealth-transfer programs and should probably all be scrapped), then we will agree to open up the immigration policy to let folks in. (No need to end the state programs – people can vote with their feet.)
For those who’ve read this post, you know that I’m pretty libertarian on a lot of things. I think the war on drugs has created an environment in which drug dealers prosper and entire political systems of South American countries are turned upside down due to a huge profit opportunity in exporting narcotics to the US. Violent crime rises, and all in the name of making people do the “right thing”. Great harm has been caused by our moral crusade. Similarly, great harm has been caused by our border/immigration policies and “thrusting aside the sojourner”. When people can’t come here legally they’ll find another way – their conditions are utterly untenable. How many people are forced into narcotics transfer as a means of getting to the US – and they become enslaved to the drug cartels and street gangs? How many women are forced into sexual slavery by the very people who promised to get them to the US? (That ought to get me a few amens from the ladies.)
As you well know I’m ardently and unapologetically pro-life. But, I would like to borrow and modify a slogan from the pro-choicers (if nothing else, they have good PR people). We need to “keep immigration safe and legal.” And those of us on the right, in the church-world, ought to reach out to the sojourner, and thereby honor our Maker. Wouldn’t we want somebody to welcome us in if we were fleeing unlivable conditions to make better lives for our families? “So whatever you wish that others wold do to you, do also to them, for this is the Law and the Prophets” – Matt 7:12 (ESV).