Immigration is on the mind of nearly everyone. Recent news reports regarding children crossing the border and being “warehoused” until they can be processed have spotlighted the huge problem we face in our country regarding illegal immigrants of all ages.
The reasons illegal immigrants have for coming to America are legend. In most cases, their reasons are no different than those who come legally. The majority of immigrants have come to this great land of opportunity in order to find a better life for their families and themselves. Most are contributors to our economy and, while illegal, follow the laws of the land. They love their families and work hard to provide for them. Their children are in our schools, and many of them are in our ethnic churches. If it were not for the fact that they broke the law to enter our country, we would consider them law abiding citizens.
Without question, there is a segment of illegal immigrants who live a life of crime. They are gang members and even involved in organized crime. These immigrants have no place in America, whether they came legally or illegally.
Finding a just way to deal with the 11-14 million illegal immigrants is complicated, to say the least. Any attempt to propose a path of resolution is met with rapid fire missiles from both sides of the issue. Confusion and disagreement are not just for politicians. If you were to survey Oklahoma Baptists, I think you would find a divergence of opinions and, no doubt, some of the opinions would be strong on both sides of the issue.
Oklahoma Baptists are on record (Resolution No. 5, On Immigration; 2013 BGCO Annual Meeting) calling for prayer for our national leaders to find a “wise, just and compassionate” solution. Russell Moore spoke on the subject at our recent SBC convention. He joined his predecessor, Richard Land, in calling for sealed borders followed by development of a path for illegal immigrants who are law abiding to pay a penalty and then be given citizenship.
There are voices who point to Scripture verses related to the treatment of strangers as the basis for Christians to lead the way in calling for action. In most cases, the action desired ranges from amnesty to providing a path for citizenship. The stories of real-life families being torn apart by immigration issues could fill a book and break one’s heart.
Since this column is called “Perspective,” what I am about to write is my thinking. You can, and many will, disagree. I am not writing as a politician, but as a minister of the Gospel.
First, I have said for years our position should be to share Jesus with everyone and care for everyone, regardless of their legal status. As individual Christians or churches, we should never restrict the Gospel or acts of kindness. We should show love without distinction. It is at this point I think Scriptural admonition to treat strangers with love is rightly applied. To go further stretches the hermeneutic of the passages.
Second, political leaders need to solve this problem. I know the mistrust and political angst that surrounds this issue. Nonetheless, it is time for politicians to lead. Seal the borders and develop a path for the millions of good people who illegally entered our country searching for a better life.
Third, until the path is found, we as followers of Christ must continue to pray and encourage our leaders to act.
Fourth, we must follow the laws regarding illegal immigrants.
Decisions on this subject need to be made based upon sound judgment and applicable to the whole. We should not make decisions based on one or 100 examples. The solution to illegal immigration should be made on principle.
Several years ago, Nike created a slogan. It is one I would apply to the immigration issue and extend to our national leaders—”JUST DO IT!” Solve the problem so millions can come out from the shadows.
P.S. We have received calls regarding the BGCO serving the children at Fort Sill. We have made multiple contacts, and the answer as of this writing is clear. These children are under the authority of Homeland Security, and no one is allowed access. Hopefully this policy will change, and I assure you we will call on Oklahoma Baptists to serve them with grace and love.