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Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Immigration and the Bible (7)

I'd like to wrap up my series on immigration and the Bible with a few suggestions of how we might apply what the Bible says on the subject to U.S. immigration policy.  But I want to be clear that these aren't detailed and practical enough to be policy proposals per se.  There are other extremely important influences on immigration policy—most notably trade policy—that I'm not looking at here.  But think of these as some general policy principles and objectives that I hope are biblically influenced.

1. Our overall national perspective toward those who desire to relocate to the United States should be one of friendship.  They are the good guys, not the bad guys.  Anyone who wants to live in America we view as an American, just as the Israelites were to love the immigrant as themselves.

2. If we view those who want to immigrate to America as Americans then in the ideal world we would have no immigration quotas.  In the real world, we must have some limitations because we can only employ so many people to investigate immigrants to make sure they are not people like criminals, smugglers, or terrorists who will endanger American citizens.  But we view the ideal of wide-open doors as something to strive for.  Loving one's neighbor is incompatible with "stay the heck away from me."

3. To the extent that we must have quotas, we do not fashion them according to which immigrants will be most useful to us.  If we make them with any bias it is a bias toward those who have the most improved opportunity to succeed in America versus in their homeland.  We view immigrants as people to be loved, not used, but we find that the people that we treat this way become extremely useful, and their children and grandchildren too.  We adopt the "give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free" concept that produced millions of hardworking, successful, loyal Americans of southern European, eastern European, Scandinavian, and East Asian descent.

4. Because we treat those who want to live here as if they are Americans, we expect them to be Americans, just as Israel expected immigrants to live and worship as Israelites.  We revive the melting pot concept.  We maintain a required timeline for residents to become citizens.  We make English the sole national language but allow the states and territories to maintain other official languages alongside English for internal use.  (This is partly because of federalism and partly because Hawaii, Puerto Rico, and others can't help it that the U.S. conquered them.)  Because our national posture toward immigrants is warm and welcoming, we find that they assimilate far more easily and eagerly than if we maintain a hostile posture toward them.

5. We view a culture of lawlessness to be far more threatening to our national life than the mere presence of foreigners.  In the practical nuts and bolts of our new immigration policy, we don't make rules that we don't or can't enforce.  The rules we can enforce we enforce rigorously.  We provide some sort of earned amnesty for those we have broken our laws when we weren't careful to enforce them, because it is better to shift masses from a shadowy, sublegal realm into a lawful status than to pretend that we have the resources, capacity, and will to identify, prosecute, and sentence even a large fraction of the offenders we have allowed to accumulate within our borders.

I'm not going to pretend that it is easy to figure out how exactly to apply biblical truth to public policy in a secular state in a completely different cultural situation.  Consider these some ideas.  But what is more important for us as Christians is our own personal attitudes and actions.  The Lord wants to see us treat immigrants as he would treat them knowing that we too are aliens and strangers in a land not our own.

1 comment:

  1. Beautiful. Now why couldn't I have been so eloquent? Thank you Pastor Cory.