Friday, March 12, 2010

Friday Video Post: illegal immigration...

Before I'm a daughter, a teacher, a writer, or an Latino-American, I'm a Christian and I'm committed to the call of the Church. In other words, I'm concerned about how the Bible can orient the way the broader Christian community, denomination, and individual Christians understand their identity and role in the world today.

When it comes to the issue of illegal immigration, the topic is huge and extraordinarily complicated. I do not pretend to offer solutions contested issues or to propose some sort of political cure-all for the many problems. I simply want to raise dialogue and discussion about a serious situation. Once we can develop an appreciation of how complicated the situation is, it can help us move us beyond emotional attachments or simplistic positions that often dominate the media and current politics.

Too often discussion defaults to the passionate ideological arguments (It's not their land, It's not fair, It's illegal), economic wrangling (Immigrants are taking jobs and money), or racial sentiment (I just don't like Chinese people, I don't like Mexicans, I hate when people can't speak English).
According to Dr. D. Carroll, the number of immigrants, documented and undocumented, who have entered the country during the past thirty years has made this phenomenon the focus of national debate at many levels and in all sorts of arenas. The debate is heated, and it has generated interesting alliances that cross ideological lines.

He also notes Christians in our society locate themselves at different points along this broad spectrum of opinion. Carroll discovered that the conversation about immigration has more to do with ideological commitments, personal background, and experience rather than Christian convictions.

So--what do we do? How can we gently (and in love) discuss fear, apprehension, justice, power, forgiveness, and LOVE? Let's start the dialogue in love...

Scriptures to support both sides of the arguments:
Abraham welcoming foreigner (Gen. 18), Elijah welcomed by the Shunammites ( 2 Kings 4), sojourners not following or integrating in Israelite life (Duet. 17:15) and rituals (Exod. 12:43, Ezek. 44:7, sojourners must do hard labor (2 Chron. 2:22), aliens could be day laborers (Duet. 24:14), commanded to love the alien/foreigner (Lev. 19:18, 34, Matt. 22:34-40), Jesus as refugee (Matt. 2:13-14), sumbit to authorities and laws of the land (Romans 13:1-7).


Melinda said...

Growing up in Miami, there are certain sections of the city that you NEED to be able to speak Spanish in order to communicate. There is also a horrible US policy "wet foot, dry foot" that is extended to Cubans but NOT to Haitians. There is Little Havana, Little Haiti, and all sorts of other people groups that live in Miami. On the West coast there are many more Asians and Mexicans.

Personally, I believe that immigrants can come to this country, follow the procedures to become a citizen or a resident (my dad immigrated here from Germany and became a resident). I believe we have a responsibility to accept those who are in need of asylum.

I am frustrated how the current system fails over and over again. People slip through the cracks. People are denied from entering our country who desperately need it. One thing that is evident to me is the level of desperation in people who come from Cuba, Haiti or Mexico and risk life and death crossing over 90 miles of ocean on little rafts or crossing the hot and dusty desert on the soles of their feet.

I am frustrated that people cheat the system. That no taxes are paid. But we are the land of the free and the home of the brave. We have no official language - there is no requirement to speak English. And most illegal immigrants are making contributions to the society. They do not sit around doing nothing. They actively seek work and create businesses.

Bianca said...

Wow, totally insightful Melinda. Thanks for your time and thoughtful response :)

More info about my personal view and I work through this:
*Due to my political affiliation, I voted against illegal immigration when it was on the ballot five years ago.
*I'm conservative in my own little mind.
*I'm wrestling with what is lawful and what is Godly.

Ok, I'm done. Thanks.

Anonymous said...

Schools are crowded.
Jails are comprised of 25% undocumented aliens
Jobs are lost to America workers.
Health care is provided for them and I don't have insurance.

Krystle said...

I wonder if we became more passionate about social justice issues if there would be as many people immigrating to my/your country?

That being said, I had a terrifying 10 minute taxi ride from a man that I believe is an immigrant who doesn't have his work visa.

Should we make it easier for people to join our countries? Maybe not. Like Bianca mentioned the bible shows both side of the argument. However, the bible is clear on social justice.

If we, and our elected leaders, didn't allow for the corruption of Mubutu of the DR Congo I'm positive that we wouldn't have as many of the Congolese immigrants that we do in my area of the world. It makes me sick to know that there are North American and developed European Nations that have supported overseas conflicts not with conflict resoultion tactics but with guns and land minds. Why wouldn't immigrants want to come to North America? We don't let people run around shooting people (for the most part) and we don't plant land minds but we do support the usage of both in their countries?

We are a sick, sick nation.

4 of Us said...

Great post...I often wonder how all the people who have such strong objections to immigrants would feel if the shoe were on the other foot. What if something happens in the US and we need to flee to other countries and we are shunned in the same manner? Hmmm...we are truly blessed to live in a FREE country, where we can voice our opinions without fear of torture or death!

Krystle said...

So, I've watched the Vlog now. (Whoops)

And..I'm pretty sure I saw Vote Bianca for something floating around on facebook, Ms "I'm not a politican" lol

Jason said...

There's little doubt we're to show compassion and mercy on those in need and that includes people coming to this country who are fleeing bad situations. We are commanded by Scripture to care for these people. However, that's what we are to as Christians...we cannot project Jesus teaching on the secular government which is not sworn to follow Scripture.

There's where we get the rub.

The government has every right to put laws into place that restrict immigration and can send people back to their countries. The Scripture tells us to obey the authorities and we have to honor that. In that sense, we have to look at someone coming here illegally on the same line as any other crime.

Where I stand on it is that the law is what it is, if someone comes here illegally then they run the risk of that law and the punishment they get is the same as a punishment I would get for breaking a law. The government is what it is and you are subject to it. If I don't like a law, you do what you can to get politicians to change it.

Does that mean you don't feed someone who's hungry because they're illegal? Of course not. Does it mean you do things to help them avoid the consequences of breaking the law? No.

Christian compassion and showing Christ's love can be done to someone here illegally without violating the law yourself. It's a fine line but it's there even if many many many people on both political sides can't or won't see it.

Jenn said...

I'm from TX and we have a HUGE immigrant population so I can understand your concerns. But as a White female, I'd like to address your concerns in love (see, Bi, it's in love).......
*Schools are overcrowded. Yes, but what do you proposed we do with the children of illegals who bore legal children here? Furthermore, what do we do with illegal children? Not provide the basic rights promised in the Constitution?
*Jails are comprised of %75 LEGAL citizens. And yes, we are footing the bill for them too. Did I mention I'm from Texas?
*What America worker will get paid below the minimum wage (if paid at all), work 12 hour days, and do manual labor in unsanitary conditions? I won't.And I love America.
*Healthcare. Is your issue that YOU don't have it so no one else can? You and illegal citizens can both get county provided health care.

Was that said in love? I hope so.

Anonymous said...

Like you have mentioned before my family and I are American Citizens by choice but some of our family member have forgotten that, they were immigrants once and thanks God they are not that now, but they act now as if they were born here and discriminate immigrants enormously, funny part is that you see them going to evangelized people and tell them about the love of GOD when they do not feel love for this people.. Ironic.. I think This funny because yesterday I was talking to my friends and one of them mentioned that he just can take it anymore because his boss at works humiliate him so much just because of his accents or because he asked to explained things twice , so he understand it. This guy speaks English/Spanish but to humiliate (yells, curse, etc to them) this person he use those big words with people that have the basis English so they don’t understand it. The sad part was when I took this friend to church; there he was the same person directing traffic, greeting people, my friend was wow he is not yelling here and he is actually being nice with people, after that day my friend work went from bad to awful, this person hated the fact that this Latino with a big accent and may be immigrant was at the same church as he is.. If the inmigrations law and payments were more flexibles, i am sure and i am speaking about my personal experience they may be less illegal people in this country, also they are so many coutries that have more benefits than others, why that's a mistery.. Have a nice weekend,

Melinda said...

@Krystle - you are so right! It is absolutely sickening to know that our politicians, our government, our elected officials "for the people, by the people" are involved in these sneaky, stinky deals that allow wars to be ripped apart by war. Children lose their lives - either by death or being forced to be a child soldier. Women are raped and beaten, acid thrown on their bodies. And the Western world for the most part shrugs their shoulders and says it's not our problem. It's shameful!

Krystle said...

Anonymous, could you slap that man?

Oh wait. That's not in love.



Anonymous said...

I have to agree with Jason on this. It's super easy to get wrapped into big all encompassing statements that condemn the system or offer simplistic political solutions. However the question posed is how do respond to illegal immigrants as Christians? (Not republicans or liberals or women or legal citizens). We simply need to find a way to operate in love. And it is possible to operate in love while still abiding by the law and not compromising our own integrity. The key here (and believe me... I don't have this down at all) is to see people as people. And treat them accordingly. My two cents. Thanks for saying it so eloquently, Jason.

Diandra said...

Oh hello can of worms :)
Bianca you and I have had countless conversations about this, but I still feel the need to share a couple of thoughts.

I think you are actually the one that told me this (maybe?) But the church is like a spiritual hospital. We help the broken hearted and the spiritually sick. At an ACTUAL hospital, they do not check the status of citizenship before helping to heal someone. If a person comes in needing help, they help. I believe that as a church, that is our job. It is not our job to bring judgement, or send someone back... it is our job to bring help and healing and love.

That said, I will sadly admit I used to come down hard on this and be VERY against illegal immigration. Then I started putting faces to statistics. I can no longer be against it. After working with so many AMAZING people who have enriched my life as an American and who have done so much to help other people and organizations in this country, even as illegal immigrants, I can no longer have an issue with that.

After sitting in Mexico talking to a little 15 year old girl whose family came here without her, and so she tried THREE TIMES to come and find them and the last time ended up scared and alone in a detention center, I can no longer have an issue with that.

After spending time at an orphanage for abused children who are trying to get back on their feet, who have hopes and dreams and want to succeed in life, and yet a HUGE wall dividing them from the freedom of this country, and reminding them everyday that they are NOT free, I can no longer have an issue with that.

After watching the Federalies (sp?) drive through the streets of Mexico with machine guns and ski masks, and feeling a sense of terror rise in my stomach for myself, but even more for the people who face that terror and fear everyday, I can no longer have an issue with that.

It is my job as a Christian, to love people. Is it fair that because my parents HAPPEN to have given birth to me in the US instead of Mexico (or anywhere else), that I have all of these freedoms? Is it fair that because I HAPPEN to be white I have more opportunities given to me?

I don't have everything I've ever wanted. I'm not rich. I don't own a home. I don't even have insurance. But the fact is that I am IMMENSELY blessed to live in a country where I have freedom and opportunity. Because of the COINCIDENCE that I HAPPEN to have been born here, do I think for any second that I have that right over someone who happens to have been born in Mexico?? ABSOLUTELY NOT. I am no different, and certainly no better, than anyone from anywhere else. It just so happens that my parents had me in an American Hospital, instead of at home in the streets of Mexico.

:) Love. The end.

Bianca said...

@Anonymous 2: I'm so sorry you had to witness that. It sucks. But the chuch isn't hyprocrites. The people INSIDE the church are. Dwell with love...

@Michelle & @Jason: this is where I fall. I like the happy medium. I'm just concerned for the future. If it has been anything like the past, immigrants will be unjustly treated.
I don't want to open borders and have a free-for-all, but for those who are here, what do we do? I think you both have a balanced grasp.

@Krystle: Be nice, you sassy girl, you! :)

@Diandra: I love your heart. But how can we separate the emotional from the legal? I agree with you. I've heard the stories and they are horrible... but we have to be able to set our minds with logic and argumentatin to support our emotions. PS I would NEVER delete your comment!

Liz D said...

I am a former illegal alien. Thanks to the Regan Amnesty law that passed in 1987 I was able to become a legal resident and then became a citizen of U.S. My father was a missionary in Mexico with 8 children. He realized that his children needed to eat food. We traveled around Mexico and while he preached we were sleeping on cold concrete floors with roaches crawling on us. I once was so hungry that I ate a jalapeno from a little plant my mom had in a pot. The issue is this, we all need a second chance in life.

Since we have been here, my siblings have prospered. They have gone to college, held government jobs, one bro. is contracted by Boeing and NASA to work on their electrical panels. I think we are all categorized into this group of horrible irresponsible people and get blamed for economic, social wrongs in the U.S. and that is unfair. When you see an illegal, you usually see them selling, working, enduring discrimination in the workplace.

I compare illegal immigration treatment to the way slaves were treated in the early history of our country. One day, we will look back and beg for forgiveness for the abusive treatment, negative racial classification and the separation of family members. The justice system shows mercy to the murderer, rapist and thief.
Why can’t we develop a fair and merciful system for people who flee to the U.S. for help? Isn’t that how our nation was formed?

Exodus 22:21 (Whole Chapter)
Thou shalt neither vex a stranger, nor oppress him: for ye were strangers in the land of Egypt.
Exodus 23:9 (Whole Chapter)
Also thou shalt not oppress a stranger: for ye know the heart of a stranger, seeing ye were strangers in the land of Egypt.

Liberty Girl said...

I line has been crossed and it isn't immigration anymore its invasion. Subsidizing having children and giving government welfare to our neighbors is a recipe for disaster. Dems should be happy, more poverty to fuel votes for themselves, and corporate should be happy to have more people to exploit. In the end only the American people lose

Anonymous said...

I'd rather take 10 illegal immigrants who are seeking for and doing work here in the USA than 10 citizens who are just collecting food stamps and welfare. With that said, I am for giving amnesty for those illegal immigrants who are contributing to the betterment of the society.

Cindy A. said...

I read this post at 8:45 am and waited to post my own comments until after I had read some of the other readers' comments too. Fear? No. Lacking words? Yes.

I don't think I could have expressed myself better than Liz D: "The justice system shows mercy to the murderer, rapist and thief.
Why can’t we develop a fair and merciful system for people who flee to the U.S. for help? Isn’t that how our nation was formed?"

That being said (well, quoted really) I'd like to say that I'm very proud of Liz D. Thank you for sharing your very personal story and I wish you future success and prosperity! My parents have also become residents, now naturalized citizens, because of the Reagan Amnesty act. They have done very well for themselves and my sister and I are both very proud. I am also very grateful to the US for the opportunity it gave my parents, along with many other undocumented immigrants.

I think each individual,regardless of origin, will reach their full potential due to their efforts. Compare the natural born American that steals money to buy drugs and the immigrant that works extended hours in deplorable conditions to feed a family that is hundreds of miles away... And let's broaden our minds beyond latino immigrants! We have immigrants from China, Indonesia, Philippines, Nigeria, India, all over the world who come for a better future and have to do it illegally. And please do not overlook the educated and affluent immigrants who speak English fluently, like, say, our Canadian neighbors, eh?

The Montgomerys said...

I interned at the Department of Immigration in college (before homeland security) and I would see first hand people go through the legal process of becoming citizens. These people from all over the world would wait years, and prepare themselves. I imagine it is frustrating for those that go through the tedious and somewhat frustrating process of become citizens where others come here illegally. I do think that not everyone has the resources to go through the process, be it financial setbacks or language barriers. I would see the joy as they were sworn in as citizens and how exciting it was. I am for sure a proponent of legal immigration; however my heart does break for those who are not able for whatever reasons to get here legally. I also became frustrated when I worked with at the Social Security department in the SSI program and would see illegal immigrants with U.S born children attemting to manipulate the system for monetary gain. This is a hard subject...dude. I believe that Jesus does call us to obey the laws of the land....but I guess I do understand why people cross the border illegally because they have nothing and want so badly to make a better life for themselves! It is very sad...I am torn on the subject. I hope this doesn't offend anyone.

Anonymous said...

I've change my heart over the years on this one but it's still close to my heart...

I came to this country as an illegal immigrate at the age of 2. In my mothers desperation for a better life she gave my sister and I to smugglers who promised to cross her across the border while I rode in the back of their car with two strangers that could of taken my mothers money and left me in the streets of TJ, but I have to believe that it was the hand of God who watch over us. Knowing this all my life I've never had a full comprehension of my mothers decision until the status of my residency affect me at the age of 15. I know how it feels to be discriminated and set apart in school and going to the doctor was more like going to the free clinic and making it a day of because there were many other people waiting to get free medical attention. Now as I us citizen and working adult contributing to society I see why people fight against illegal immigration but I also lived on the other end and that is why I say - God Bless America.


Julio Sanchez said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Brianna said...

Go Big or Go home, right?! :) I like it...

Well I'm sure you probably know where I stand on this issue...being that I'm your crazy liberal friend. :)

As christians, we would like for godly and lawful to go hand in hand. Sometimes they do...sometimes they don't. On this one, I don't believe it does. And so, ideologically speaking, my beliefs would be that denying people rights that we get as Americans simply because we were blessed enough to be born here and did absolutely nothing to deserve it, is not so godly at all. I don't believe God turns people away because they have the wrong passport or they happened to be born 10 miles too far south of some arbitrary line drawn by who knows who.

I also don't understand how all these non Native Americans forget so easily that someone in their lineage did just that...immigrated. I totally do understand that we have real issues and concerns connected to illegally immigrating in this day and age, but we all have benefited of great, great, great grandpas making their way over here looking for a better life. ( my case, being brought against their will...but still.)

I'm no politician either. I don't have the slightest clue what the best answer would be as far as setting up laws that respect and honor humanity while at the same time looking out for the best interest of this great country of ours. But in my heart I know that illegal immigration is not flat out wrong. Sure, there are laws against it. There are also laws that make abortion legal. I don't think the law of the land can always dictate what is truly right to us who believe the Bible comes before the constitution, bill of rights, what congress thinks, etc etc.

my two cents...given in love. :)

Anonymous said...

thank you Bi, Diandra, and Liz D. I really liked what you 3 had to say!! :)

Anonymous said...

@Julio, you have no opinion and it seems like you need to get a brain and then a life.

A Sinner Saved by Grace said...

America is a phenomenal country. I am so so so so grateful that the Lord Jesus my amazing God and Savior took me from my beautiful land of Portugal and brought me here (legally, just f.y.i) to save, redeem, and renew me. I know without a doubt that this is His country in every sense of the word.

However, since my stepfather at the time did not care for me because I was not his own he chose to purposefully mess up the renewal of my green card and because of that I was almost deported. By the grace, mercy, and power of Jesus Christ I obtained legal citizenship in the United States. Jesus did it. There is no other explanation. It was a miracle. It was a miracle that can be likened to parting the Reed Sea in my life. God redeemed me from the wicked hands of man just like He did for Joseph. Thank You Jesus.

Genesis 50:20 (New International Version)

20"You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done, the saving of many lives."

I understand both sides of the debate I really do. However, it is essential that in our zeal to find "solutions" to problems we do not start pointing to people and blaming them. Someone else tried this tactic his name was Adolf Hitler. Scapegoating is wrong. It is what Hitler did and it is what many people in America do.

The Lord put the word scapegoat on my heart and I found this/This was so totally God (Thank You Jesus):

"One that is made to bear the blame of others.
Bible. A live goat over whose head Aaron confessed all the sins of the children of Israel on the Day of Atonement. The goat, symbolically bearing their sins, was then sent into the wilderness.
tr.v., -goat·ed, -goat·ing, -goats.
To make a scapegoat of."

Leviticus 16:21
"Then Aaron shall lay both of his hands on the head of the live goat, and confess over it all the iniquities of the sons of Israel and all their transgressions in regard to all their sins; and he shall lay them on the head of the goat and send it away into the wilderness by the hand of a man who stands in readiness."

Yes, we have problems in America but check this out, we can't solve them. Only Jesus can.
If we really want a "solution" for Illegal Immigration it is essential that we seek the LORD.

2 Chronicles 7:14 (New International Version)

"14 if my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then will I hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and will heal their land."

Finally, it is also essential that as human beings we see immigrants as fellow human beings. Their blood is red like ours. Regardless of the color of their skin or the language that they speak. English is not the supreme language as some choose to view it. ;) Let us remember that all that we have we have because of the grace of Jesus Christ and let us act in love as Christ has loved us so much so that He died for us.

Matthew 22 (New International Version)

36"Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?" 37Jesus replied: " 'Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.'[b] 38This is the first and greatest commandment. 39And the second is like it: 'Love your neighbor as yourself.'[c] 40All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments."

keeparkansaslegal said...

The video response I posted has some Bible verses that deal with this issue. I wrote a 15 page paper about Christianity and Illegal Immigration that was posted on the website Secure Arkansas, but they have reworked their website and the link to it is gone. Here's a story on my blog Little Rock Immigration Examiner about this issue on an Arkansas level.


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