My Immigration Hypocrisy

My goal in this post is to transparently wrestle with where the issue of immigration intersects with the life and teaching of Jesus. When I wrestle with the issue, I find a great deal of hypocrisy (in me and in the Church) and I don’t know how to resolve the conflict.

In the political world I see Democrats and Republicans using Immigrants as political pawns to advance their agendas. In the church, I have grown weary with Christian talk about the issue of immigration. One one side there is the “Build that wall!” Crowd. On the other hand you have the “Let all those wanting to immigrate to the United States in!” Crowd. I don’t find myself in full support of either but I don’t know how to find a clear solution.

Build that wall hypocrisy

Those that call for building the wall fail to recognize that there are those who are genuinely in need of a place to go where they can be safe. Refusing to allow them into the US can be a death sentence. We may claim we care but then do nothing about that care. That is the kind of love that is a clanging gong and a resounding symbol. If you say you love me, then send me to my death, I would hate to see what you would do to someone you don’t like.

Whereas I believe there are some passages in the Bible being used out of context when it comes to immigration, it does say we are called to care for the immigrant. There is no way around that. I struggle to name any Christian who says, “I am in favor of building the wall. Now where is an immigrant who needs help with housing, food or a job. All I have and all my resources are available to help you.”

Lastly, I hear the “build that wall” crowd speak about the immorality of illegal immigration. “They should come here legally.” I think we need to be careful when we say this. If you would not break the law to save the life of your chid; if you have never broken a law (i.e. speeding, etc.), then go ahead and throw that stone. I would move heaven and earth to save my kids so I am slow to condemn a parent who will take any risk to save their child.

Let them all in hypocrisy

Every pastor has cringed and lost sleep when a gifted layperson or major donor has called to inform us they are moving to another location. We wonder how we will move forward. We wonder how we will pay the bills. We wonder how ministry will adjust in their absence. Our “let them in” approach has the same potential impact to nations around the world. How does a person receive medical care when the doctor leaves for the U.S.? How does a person have a legal advocate when the lawyer leaves for the U.S.? How are children educated when the educated leave for the U.S.? How are we engaged in justice when we take those with the potential for the greatest impact on a nation and place them in the U.S.?

I struggle with how “Let them all in” Christians seem to be willing to let them in the U.S. but don’t let them in their own home. “Well, I give to immigrant causes.” Jesus said to the Pharisee in Luke 11 that there is more to justice than giving to the cause. Those who stand for immigrants should do more than give or we are Pharisees in our approach to people. We should seek out the immigrant and put the yoke over our shoulder and strap on with them. If the immigrant matters then they matter enough to bear the burdens they face with them. However, most of the “let them in” crowd continues to lock their front door and move on in their own righteousness.

I also struggle to believe that the “Let them in” crowd understands the depth of the fall. Listening to Customs and Border Protection officers will place you in touch with how deep the fall goes. Every day they, at risk to their own life, stop fake Federal badges, drugs that are so powerful that one or two drops will kill them, bugs that will destroy the US agriculture industry, and products whose intent is to destroy the economic systems of the US. Without systems to protect human beings we open the floodgate for global terrorism on an unimaginable scale.

If we could agree that our responsibility is to all humanity, then I believe we could come up with solutions that are good for people as individuals and for the all nations that house those people. I am not sure what those solutions are but the first step must be for our spiritual leaders to recognize our own hypocrisy in the issue of immigration. (This is my confession.) The second step is for our political leaders to stop using immigrants as political pawns and start considering them to be human beings with dignity and value. 

If anyone has seen solutions that take the welfare of the immigrant, the welfare of the people that remain in the nation they come and the welfare of the people in the nation receiving the immigrant into account, I would be interested in knowing more. There must be a way to advocate for the welfare of humanity.