Why I Support Immigration Reform - And Response (4)

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

I support immigration reform with a path to citizenship for undocumented persons. I’d like to share why.

Before I begin, let me say that I am a bona fide Republican. As such, I fully understand that people on my side, and probably both sides, of the political fence are likely to harangue me for this opinion. They will spout a lot of rhetoric and may even call me some names. Go ahead… it’s a free country. But, before you do, read the points below in detail. It might mess with your theology.

I support immigration reform because I am a Christian and I try to live according to the Word of God, the Bible. The words of God Himself are:

“Also you shall not oppress a stranger, for you know the heart of a stranger, because you were strangers in the land of Egypt” (Exodus 23:9 NKJV).

“Do not oppress widows, orphans, foreigners, and the poor. And do not scheme against each other” (Zech. 7:10, NLT).

“But I will be merciful only if you stop your evil thoughts and deeds and start treating each other with justice; only if you stop exploiting foreigners, orphans, and widows; only if you stop your murdering; and only if you stop harming yourselves by worshiping idols. Then I will let you stay in this land that I gave to your ancestors to keep forever” (Jer. 7:5-7, NLT).

“Do not take advantage of foreigners who live among you in your land. Treat them like native-born Israelites, and love them as you love yourself. Remember that you were once foreigners living in the land of Egypt. I am the Lord your God” (Lev. 19:33-34, NLT).

“At that time I will put you on trial. I am eager to witness against all sorcerers and adulterers and liars. I will speak against those who cheat employees of their wages, who oppress widows and orphans, or who deprive the foreigners living among you of justice, for these people do not fear me,” says the Lord of Heaven’s Armies” (Mal. 3:5, NLT).

“Open your mouth for the speechless, In the cause of all who are appointed to die. Open your mouth, judge righteously, and plead the cause of the poor and needy” (Prov. 31:8-9, NKJV).

“‘Cursed is the one who perverts the justice due the stranger, the fatherless, and widow.’ “And all the people shall say, ‘Amen!’” (Deut. 27:19, NKJV)

I could go on and on, listing Scripture verses that reiterate these principles. The Bible states over and over that God is the God of the stranger and the foreigner, and He takes it personally when strangers are oppressed.

Now, I understand that they came here illegally, and the Bible also says that we should obey the laws. I’m not excusing their method of arrival; if you want to close the border and can figure out a workable way to do it, go ahead. But you have broken laws too… driving 60 mph on Hwy 153 is against the law, and most of you have probably done that.

So since our friends from south of the border are already here, let’s discuss their situation as it currently stands. Most importantly, let’s talk about how we should treat them.

Some people say that the right thing to do with undocumented workers is to round them up like cattle, to stalk them to their places of business, to profile them in cars, to treat them rudely in restaurants, to spout racial slurs under your breath, to deny their children health care and public education. But these are the same people who also don’t want to pay increased prices for chicken, who don’t want to be profiled themselves, and who are more than happy to accept these workers’ hard-earned dollars when they stand in line at the fast-food restaurant (owned by esteemed United States citizens) to order lunch. Hmmm… something smells of hypocrisy.

What’s the right thing to do? I think the right thing is to start at a basic understanding of the situation, which ICE (Immigration & Customs Enforcement) has already done. (You can google up an ICE memo from this summer about enforcement priorities if you want to read about that). There are some immigrants here, just like there are U.S. citizens, who are thugs and drug dealers. Catch them if they have committed a crime, try them, and if you need to send them back home, I understand. Everybody understands that.

But then there are people who are minding their own business, desperately trying to provide for their families. These people pay taxes (oh yes, they do… so there goes your “not with our tax dollars” argument). You don’t see many absentee fathers in this group. You don’t see many single moms with no support. You don’t see lazy people. All you see are hard, hard workers who take care of their families and who are willing to pay a tremendous price to make a better life for their children. Sound familiar? It should. Unless you have 100 percent First Nation, Native American blood, that’s how you got here. Oh yes. You’re a stranger and a foreigner too, and so am I.

What’s the right thing to do with the people who are already here and are positive, contributing members of our society? Our country does not have the resources to send them back to their native countries. It’s just not possible, and I don’t think it’s the right thing to do even if it were. (Reference Scriptures above; and when the law goes against the Word of God, I’m sticking with the Word of God.)

Let’s forgive their illegal entry and move on. “The right thing to do” is not to oppress them. Migrant workers are not going anywhere, my Republican friends, so let’s start paying them fair wages for fair work. Help them learn English if needed. Help them get an education. Teach them what it means to be American. Let them find their place to fit in to American culture, and to feel safe in doing so. Stop spouting rhetoric and be reasonable. Stop harping on what you think Scripture would say if it were written by God the Republican, and start reading what Scripture actually says. Do what we can to prevent future lawbreaking as far as the border is concerned, and look at our friends from south of the border as the blessing to our country and to our economy that they are.

Hey, maybe our undocumented worker friends could help replace the millions of babies that we’ve murdered by abortion since 1973. You know, the ones that are not here to start businesses, hire workers, buy houses, pay taxes, and have more children… thereby helping the economy we’re all complaining about.

Jamie Rohrbaugh
Chattanooga

* * *

Thank you for a well-reasoned response to such a difficult subject. Many conservatives simply take a knee-jerk approach to the illegal alien situation that is simply irrational. God help our country if we actually try and round up all the illegals and attempt to ship them south. The logistics of doing seem insurmountable to me, and the morality of it would be shameful.

For 25 years I worked with folks who came here illegally. Most of the Mexicans who worked in Dalton while I worked there were not here by legal means. The vast majority of them were, however, good people; they worked harder, in most cases, than folks who were born here. All of the cliches you hear spouted off about them are just nonsense. There are way more native born Americans on some sort of welfare than those who came here illegally.

Should they have come here illegally? Of course not. Do we have have jobs to go around for all them in the current mess we are in? Again, no. But I don't think I have heard anyone come up with a sound plan for removing them from our country. If there is one out there, maybe someone could let me know about it.

But I also have a personal stake in the outcome of the whole mess: my son-in-law was born in Mexico, and is here illegally. He has been in America now for years. He has worked hard for years. Does he realize now that he went about coming to our country in the wrong manner? Yes. Does he want to do the right thing now? Again, yes. You see, my family has a little problem: I was born in Chattanooga; my heritage is German with a little English thrown in; my daughter was born in Chattanooga; and my two grandchildren were also born in our city. A further problem is that my son-in-law is a good man. He is a far better man than some I know who hold the opinion we ought to throw them out regardless of what kind of person they are. He is one of the best dads I have ever seen. My grandchildren adore him; my daughter adores him; and I love him, too.

Does that mean I approve of the way millions of people entered our country? No, but I don't much approve of the direction we seem to be going in order to find a solution either. If we are not going to round them all up and ship them south on a train, plane, or by some other means, then what are we going to do with men such as my son-in-law? Right now, the only recourse he has is going home to Mexico, putting his name on a list, and apply for re-entry into the country. That is a process that could take as short a time as a few months, or could stretch out to a few years. His family could go with him, but at some point my daughter would have to come back and establish a residence so that he could prove he could be stable and not a drain on America's resources.

America's great strength is, or was, its moral foundation. And I believe its moral foundation was rooted in Biblical principles. And yes I know that Christians have not always behaved like Christians. Far too many times in the past, (and even now), we behaved worse than our non-Christian countrymen. Christians should be in the forefront of a movement to find a reasonable solution for this mess. Supporting a state-by-state legislative movement that effectively just moves the illegal population from one state to another doesn't seem to me to be very practical, and I find some of the provisions in these laws distasteful. If we are going to spend the money for that type of law enforcement, why not spend the money separating men like my son-in-law from any thugs that came here illegally? It would probably be cheaper anyway; there might just be more American born thugs than Mexican born ones in the country anyhow.

Wayne Hammel
Chattanooga

* * *

I believe we all advocate serious reform of the immigration process that makes it streamlined and manageable. I know I have and do.

I also believe that as the body of Christ, the Church, benevolence, charity, love and ministry transcends all geographical, racial and denominational bounds. That's very clear in the parable of the Good Samaritan.

I believe, too, that Christ taught there is "one way" to "inherit the Kingdom of God," or have the benefits of heavenly citizenship. I also believe that while there is "a broad way" that's easier, and many times more acceptable, to accept abortion as contraception, to abandon traditional marriage, to cut corners in business for the sake of prosperity, that the "narrow way" is the pathway Christ taught in keeping His commands and identifying ourselves as His.

Simply, all are welcome in the United States of America in choosing to walk the pathway that declares, "I want to be a part of the greatest nation on this earth. I want to declare my commitment to be a citizen in good-standing and abide in the community of America and enjoy her benefits." I'm counting on part of my eternity to include a welcome into a "kingdom" that demonstrates the truth of following the "narrow", "only way."

We do need reform that welcomes all legally.

Robin Smith

* * *

The Bible verses do not address our situation. Israel had no immigration laws. We do. If you violate those laws, there's a penalty to play.

Shall we open all the borders and provide planes and ships to bring them here? How about Mexico as state #51.

I say enforce the law and deport them. And we can deport 12 million people. if we can fight two wars, we can deport. No matter what, they are here 'illegally'.

Ron Melton

* * *

Mr. Melton,
For Christians, the Bible is extremely relevant to all situations, even if it does not address the actual particulars of a given situation in our time. For us, God is far above man’s laws, and He is the giver of authority to kings, rulers and yes, even presidents, senators and house representatives.

Sure, the Bible doesn’t address American immigration laws, and it does command people to obey laws, but Jamie Rorbaugh has correctly demonstrated God’s heart concerning the ways He commands us to treat foreigners, strangers, widows, orphans, the poor, etc., and for Christians, His commands are not options or suggestions. They’re commands.

So as far as I’m concerned, as a Christian, I must treat people the way He tells me to, and have the attitudes He tells me to have, and that comes before human laws and informs how I think, act and vote regarding this issue and all others. I’m grateful for Jamie’s reminder, and I agree with it 100percent (with the one exception that I’m personally not a Republican).

Besides, as a native Californian, I can’t get behind the idea that I have to support the deportation a people who were there long before my Welsh ancestors. It feels to me like pushing someone off a hill, taking it over, and then issuing a decree that no one may visit my hill without my consent. Rid the area of violence and drug dealers and such, sure; but that’s the case no matter the immigration status. But other than that, I’m going to do my best to follow God’s heart and love my neighbor — legal or not — as I love myself. Whether or not that meets with your approval is just not as important to me.

John Stegall


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