I want to let people know about the Table podcast for the next two weeks. It covers immigration. Here is the URL: http://www.dts.edu/thetable/play/biblical-response-immigration-policy/ We have purposely asked 4 Hispanic evangelicals to help us see the issues from their side of the conversation. It is too easy to get near-sighted about this conversation. I have heard a lot of discussion about not giving amnesty, upholding the rule of law, and that there are two kinds of immigration- legal and illegal.
Much of this ignores what we all know. Where we are now does not work. It allows for an underground economy where people who get from the system do not pay into it. It means if we strictly enforced our laws, we would split families (not a very Christian, family value result). It ignores how many came in with a wink and a nod from those of us who were already here as we hired people and gave them a means to live. Most Hispanics I know are good and quiet citizens. They work hard, making a living doing one or more jobs and living in tight quarters with many families sharing a small apartment. I have always thought assimilation is a much better policy than allowing an underground way of life to continue.
But what about breaking the Law? Yes, many have come in illegally. But a combined policy of giving a route to citizenship which is to be earned and pursued to right the wrong and doing a better job of securing our borders is what we need. What I object to is the linking of these two ideas so that citizenship is not opened up until the borders are secured. That is not best for those already here and for us as a nation. If one waits until the ducks are in a row on border security, then one faces the problem that one can always suggests the ducks are not quite lined up as they ought to be yet. Why not let the ducks get lined up internally so those who are here can earn their money and pay into our system for services they draw upon?
And here is another reason Christians especially should contemplate. Why not show a little Christian compassion in how we set it up. I am reminded that when it comes to salvation, I am hardly saved because I kept the rule of law. Forgiveness was offered through Jesus and I embraced the opportunity to get out of the box I had created for myself because God was gracious and offered a way out I did not deserve. So let's work out a plan that gives a currently bad and ineffective policy a fresh start. Let's work both ends of the problem but not link them so tightly we repeat the mistakes we made before. And, above all, let Christians show what we know in our deepest soul- that forgiveness cleanses in ways that go beyond what Law does and gives people an opportunity to experience life in a new way. Maybe if we model Chrsitian values, we will show how forgiveness can work in even more profound ways.