We have argued that Scripture makes repeated and clear calls for us to take special concern for the stranger, to love them as ourselves, and to welcome them as if serving Jesus himself. God commands us to obey, which is primary if we are to truly follow Christ. â€˜There is no other road to faith or discipleship,â€™ Dietrich Bonhoeffer writes, except â€˜obedience to the call of Jesus.â€™ We dare not dismiss Godâ€™s instructions to us, but rather should move from reflection to prayerful action. Serving and loving immigrants can take on different expressions, and each are vitally important in the broader Christian witness.
Soerens and Yang, p. 203 in â€œChapter 10: A Christian Response to the Immigration Dilemma,â€ Welcoming the Stranger
And behold, a lawyer stood up to put [Jesus] to the test, saying, â€œTeacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?â€ He said to him, â€œWhat is written in the law? How do you read?â€ And he answered, â€œYou shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your strength, and with all your mind; and your neighbor as yourself.â€ And he said to him, â€œYou have answered right; do this, and you will live.â€
But he, desiring to justify himself, said to Jesus, â€œAnd who is my neighbor?â€
â€”Luke 10:25-29, RSV
Our national immigration laws have created a moral, economic and political crisis in America. Initiatives to remedy this crisis have led to polarization and name calling in which opponents have misrepresented each otherâ€™s positions as open borders and amnesty versus deportations of millions. This false choice has led to an unacceptable political stalemate at the federal level at a tragic human cost.Â â€” Soerens and Yang (2018) quoting the Evangelical Statement of Principles for Immigration Reform in, â€œImmigration Policies and Politics,â€ Chapter 8 in Welcoming the Stranger, p. 150.
What effects do people like Guillermo, who come to the United States to pick our produce for a low hourly wage, have on the overall economy? Does immigration hurt the American worker? Are foreign workers even needed? What about the costs of providing education, healthcare, and other public services to these people? Can our country afford to welcome so many immigrants? Could we afford not to have them here?
From a Christian perspective, these questions ought not to be primary: the scriptural witness is that we are to care for the immigrant stranger living among us, without any caveat that exempts us from this responsibility if it is not in our individual or national economic interest. Furthermore, immigrants contribute much to our society that is not easily quantified, and we err if we reduce the immigration dilemma to one of mere mathematics. God created and delights in cultural diversity, and immigrants have added richly to our communities through their different cultures. Nevertheless, economic considerations are among the most common concerns raised in the ongoing immigration debate in our country, and they need to be addressed.Â – Soerens and Yang (2018) in, â€œThe Value of Immigrants to the United States,â€ Chapter 7 in Welcoming the Stranger, p. 124.
We continue engineering professor Royce Francis’s Monday series on immigration, partly inspired by Royce’s attendance at the InterVarsity Northeast Retreat in 2017. Royce is also training to run a half marathon in support ofÂ World Relief, and today’s post includes a training update for those of you following Royce’s progress in that endeavor.Â If you’ve started reading more recently, or just want a refresher, you may enjoy browsing the series to date. You can also explore Rocye’s Masterclass series on writing here.
Every year we issue a million green cards to foreign nationals from all the countries of the world, but we do so without regard to whether that applicant has demonstrated the skill that can add to the US economy, whether they can pay their own way or be reliant on welfare, or whether theyâ€™ll displace or take a job from an American worker.Â – Soerens and Yang (2018) quoting Stephen Miller, Sr. Advisor to Pres. Donald J. Trump in, â€œConcerns About Immigration,â€ Chapter 6 in Welcoming the Stranger, p. 102.