Immigration Issues from a Both/And View

Photo by Yigithan Bal from Pexels

The situation at the border of the United States of America and Mexico is overwhelming to think about. The varying points of view presented either blame President Trump or President Obama for the mess. Mudslinging from the left to the right and back again uses up an inordinate amount of energy. Meanwhile, children are suffering. Meanwhile, Border Patrol agents are suffering. Meanwhile, non-profit organizations and for-profit organizations are overwhelmed.

The roots of the massive migration from Central America lie in compromised personal safety and economic insecurity. The demographics of humans at the border has shifted from primarily lone males to families. Our border patrol agents have been caught by surprised by this shift and have not caught up to what is necessary. Leadership at the highest level of our country is using the separation of families as a deterrent to migration.

The effectiveness of this plan is evident in the numbers of people still presenting themselves. It hasn’t worked and is not likely to suddenly begin to work on some bright new day.

As a pastor, in my view the core of the problem is simple. Humans are confused about ownership. “The earth is the Lord’s and all that is in it, the world and all those who live in it, Psalm 24:1a).” As Americans, many of us seem to believe that we own this land, when the bible clearly states it belongs to the Lord. We do not own our lives. The accident of where we were born and the parents who bore it was utterly out of our control. If we were fortunate in one of these foundations, we are lucky. If we were fortunate in both, we are overwhelmingly fortunate.

Now, I get that we have ownership laws and a system of tracking whose land is whose. We have a biblical narrative of God designating land for various tribes. The legal ownership of our piece of property is not an ownership of all of the country. It still belongs to God. The people at our border, clamoring for a chance at a better life, are also beloved children of God. How we treat them matters to our own souls.

Our being born in this nation does not make us superior to people born in other nations. That we hold many goods does not make us superior. The people who are knocking on our door may or may not be harmful to us, but they are most certainly not our inferiors. We need to recognize that human to human treatment is expected to be civilized. It is not ok to treat people as animals.
Our government agencies need to be called to task.

This is what I am seeking:

1. Immediately find a way to house those who are being detained in a clean and healthy environment.
2. Reunite families now.
3. Create a clear path to citizenship.
4. Allow greater transparency into what is going on in the detention centers.
5. Find a way to partner with the non-profits and faith-based agencies to help with the human side of this crisis.
6. Stop criminalizing people who extend help.

We all need to work together to resolve this crisis.  We can do this if we work together!