Answering a question regarding an online petition I signed based on illegal immigrants, here are some of my thoughts:
I think every situation is different. In this particular situation, I believe Erika’s mother is in the country illegally, but working on becoming legal. Not 100% sure though – anyone? It appears that this particular family was targeted though because of Erika’s work with Presente.org. I personally have a pretty strong conviction toward being pro-immigrant, based on Scriptures such as these:
Deuteronomy 10:19 You shall love the stranger, for you were once strangers in the land of Egypt.
Leviticus 19:34 The alien who resides with you shall be to you as the citizen among you; you shall love the alien as yourself, for you were aliens in the land of Egypt: I am the Lord your God.
Romans 12:13 Contribute to the needs of the saints; extend hospitality to strangers.
Hebrews 13:1 Let mutual love continue. Do not neglect to show hospitality to strangers for by doing that some have entertained angels without knowing it.
Collossians 3:11 In that renewal there is no longer Greek and Jew, circumcised and uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave and free; but Christ is all and in all.
Matthew 25:35 I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me.
Matt. 25:40 Truly I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of my brethren you did it to me.
If you look at the Old Testament narrative (including the stories of Ruth & Naomi), it is clear that God’s call was for His people to care for the alien and stranger and that when not heeded, this was one of the big sins of the people. And you can see how Jesus interacted with the Samaritan woman as an example of his treatment of the alien.
Nicole and I have had the experience of a neighbor woman coming crying into our home because her husband was picked up by police and potentially going to be deported even though he had been in the country for 18 years. He had been picked up due to a mistaken identity issue – but still being held. She started a garage sale to try and sell as much as she could to raise the money she needed for a lawyer. On a side note, this man was probably the nicest neighbor I have ever met. When we first moved in, our van had a flat and I couldn’t get the spare down and he came over and helped me out and ended up finding a tire in his garage that fit our van and he just gave it to me.
A member of our church, Iglesia Metodista Libre de Aurora (Free Methodist Church of Aurora), said that many times the laws are so complicated that immigrants don’t even know what to do to become legal and neglect doing it just because they don’t know what to do.
Now every situation is obviously different and there is definitely the need for immigration control and laws. But my hope is for immigration reform and laws that lean more toward grace. I love the Stephen Colbert quote before the Subcommittee on Immigration, Citizenship, Refugees, Border Security, and International Law’s Hearing on: Protecting America’s Harvest., “…my great-grandfather did not travel across 4,000 miles of Atlantic ocean to see this country overrun by immigrants.” This brings to mind that obviously somewhere back, all of us came from immigrants. I imagine that there are Native Americans that consider all of us non-Native Americans as illegal immigrants. None of us today would justify the travesty of the way our country treated Native Americans in the first century of this country’s existence. So I would think that we should tread lightly and fearfully in the way we treat immigrants today – imho.
On the Colbert’s above mentioned appearance, the best part to me was when he actually broke character and quoted the Scripture, “whatever you do for the least of my brothers…”:
“I like talking about people who don’t have any power,” Colbert said quietly and seriously – and totally out of character.
“It seemed like one of the least powerful people in the United States are migrant workers who come and do our work but don’t have any rights as a result,” he continued while the room became pin-drop quiet.
“And yet we still invite them to come here and at the same time ask them to leave. That’s an interesting contradiction to me. And whatever you do for the least of my brothers — and these seem like the least of our brothers right now..” Colbert continued, trailing off.
“A lot of people are least brothers right now because the economy is so hard,” he continued.
“I don’t want to take anyone’s hardship away from them or diminish anything like that. But migrant workers suffer and have no rights.”
Also a good article here in the Economist: Migrant farm workers: Field of Tears. After reading that article I’m reminded of Jean Valjean being thrown in prison for 19 years for stealing a loaf of bread in Les Misérables and of Heinz’s Dilemma. No easy answers but issues worth struggling over.