Immigration Reform

MigrantImmigration reform is a hotbed issue in the political arena, and it received renewed attention when the Virginia congressman Eric Cantor lost his primary election.

The first reports concerning this “shocking defeat” concluded that Mr. Cantor’s position on immigration reform was the issue that brought him down. Pundits rushed to add that this result spelled doom for any hope for a change in our immigration law in the near future.

“Immigration reform is almost certainly dead on Capitol Hill this year,” according to Politico. And Fox News agreed: “Cantor’s loss could send immigration talks into a deep freeze.” Candidates, the thinking goes, would be too afraid of their constituents’ response if they back any meaningful overhaul of our current failed policies.

A few voices of reason have restored some order to this discussion. This election involved one state, one primary, with low voter turn out. It does not necessarily reflect a national trend! Sadly, however, I think the events surrounding the Virginia primary are a microcosm of what’s wrong with politics in America.

First, in the land of the free and the home of the brave, which recently commemorated those who died to defend our country and what we stand for, only a minority actually exercise their right to vote. The majority might grumble and complain, but they remain on the sidelines.

Second, the media drives the discussion. Once we believed in journalistic integrity in this country, which meant that nothing was reported as fact unless it was verified by at least two sources. So where is the data that proves as fact that voters turned away from Cantor because of his stance on immigration?

Third, once the media has delivered their “findings,” their reports drive the discussion and color the convictions of many.

Fourth, politicians care more about keeping their job than about serving their country. We no longer have a majority of leaders willing to do what’s right at the expense of their job or the loss of their precious legacy.

Gerald_Ford_(portrait)The truth is, those who work unselfishly for the good of others often have the legacy the power-hungry covet. I think, for example, of President Gerald Ford, the only US President never to be elected as either President or Vice President. He came to power because Congress chose him to fill the Vice Presidency to replace Spiro Agnew, leaving him in line for the Presidency when Richard Nixon resigned. His controversial move one month into his tenure was to pardon Nixon of his crimes committed as President because he believed this to be the quickest way to put the Watergate scandal behind the country and promote healing.

Many grant in hindsight that [Ford] had respectably discharged with considerable dignity a great responsibility that he had not sought. His subsequent loss to Carter in 1976 has come to be seen as an honorable sacrifice he made for the nation. (“Gerald Ford”)

Who in government is making honorable sacrifices today?

On the contrary, we have reports of “leaders” distancing themselves from one of the issues that desperately needs to be addressed—the question of our immigration plan.

As it is, our borders remain porous—allowing drug smuggling as well as human trafficking to take place. For months, perhaps years, places along our borders have endured gang wars as various drug cartels battle for control of the drug pipelines to our cities.

At the same time, poor, downtrodden immigrants from Central America and Mexico search for ways to escape the danger, poverty, and brutality of the countries they are fleeing. Sometimes they end up as virtual slaves here in America because they turned to an unscrupulous coyote to provide them with passage into the US. Some die. Others reach their destination penniless because they spent all they had on their flight.

In short, illegal immigration continues to take place. We have not adequately addressed how to protect our borders from the criminal activity that takes place or how to identify people in genuine need of asylum in America.

Making matters worse, we also have second generation illegals who came to the US as children or whose parents came illegally before they were born. Some face the possibility of deportation to a country they have never known, others the prospect of separation from their parents.

That’s the price of illegal activity, some will say. However, that kind of hard line is not a position we take with any other comparable criminal behavior. For example, if someone smuggles a costly souvenir from their vacation into the US because they don’t want to pay the duty, are they deported? Is their property taken from them without a chance to redeem it?

In addition, in what other circumstances are children punished because of the decision of their parents, the way immigrant children face deportation because their parents brought them to the US when they were infants or toddlers?

Clearly changes need to take place in the area of immigration. Some, shamefully using a kind of “us four and no more” mentality, want to see the US close to new immigrants altogether. Others advocate for the kind of amnesty that turns resident illegal immigrants into citizens which the country tried in the 1980s.

Neither extreme is a workable solution, but continuing the status quo isn’t workable either. That leaves immigration reform as the only answer.

Unfortunately, this complex problem with many facets requires real leadership to find a way out of the morass, and apparently right now our federal government is in short supply of that quality.

My hope is that Christians can lead the way. Rather than threatening to withhold support from a candidate who wishes to address this issue, we should be on the front lines encouraging them to do so.

We need sensible, just, compassionate change in our immigration policy which requires honest, fair men and women to find the best solutions. Yes, I wish those in leadership were true servants, willing to put the good of the nation ahead of their own political future, but in lieu of the ideal, we should look to the next best thing—citizens rallying behind candidates who are willing to study the issue and search for an answer.

He has told you, O man, what is good;
And what does the LORD require of you
But to do justice, to love kindness,
And to walk humbly with your God? (Micah 6:8)

I’ll be honest. I believe we’re responsible before God for what we do about unwanted children, elderly widows who can’t support themselves, and aliens and strangers looking for hope and help.

The latter is our mission field, come to us instead of us going to them. The least we can do is to advocate for a fair policy that can offer them hope and help rather than a closed door.


Amish_at_the_beachIs compromise a virtue or a vice?

Once upon a time, here in the US, there was a statesman (not a politician), Henry Clay, known as the Great Compromiser. OK, he actually was a politician and even ran for the Presidency in 1824, then again in 1832 and 1844. His fame, such as it is, came, not from failed political campaigns, however, but for successful compromises. He was instrumental in formulating the Missouri Compromise of 1820 and the Compromise of 1850, both tiptoeing around the issue of slavery.

Some might point to those compromises as means by which slavery was propped up for four more decades. Others might say they kept the union together until the North was strong enough to oppose a seceded South.

Others have been touted as statesmen for their ability to bring two opposing sides together. Neither ends up with everything they hoped for and both give in on things they stand against.

The way the US government was set up required compromise. Small states had equal voting power in the Senate, so large states couldn’t overlook their needs or ignore their voice. The President had to look to Congress to generate the legislation he wished to see enacted, requiring a fair amount of give and take on both their parts.

On the other hand, in the early history of the US, there wasn’t much compromise when it came to religious things. In part this intransigence explains the large number of Protestant denominations. When a group became convinced of the rightness of their theology, they weren’t about to hedge or make concessions with someone who saw things differently.

In this arena, too, people see the lack of compromise as both good and bad. It kept Christians opposed to one another, separated from each other, suspicious of others–pretty much the opposite of what Paul says in Colossians 3–“So, as those who have been chosen of God, holy and beloved, put on a heart of compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience; bearing with one another and forgiving each other whoever has a complaint against anyone” (3:12-13).

On the other hand, a lack of compromise works against false teaching and the kind of slide into sin we see in the nation of Israel throughout the Old Testament.

What strikes me in thinking about compromise and the general overview of it in the history of the US, is the fact that today we seem to be approaching compromise in exactly the opposite way it was used in the first half of the 1800s. Then politicians who compromised were statesmen and professing Christians who compromised were heretics. Today, politicians who compromise are sell-outs, and people of religion who compromise are tolerant.

So what’s your take on compromise? Are there things, similar to Israel’s neglect of the Sabbath or care for widows and orphans or involvement in idol worship, that the Church (not people who say they are Christians because they were born in the US or because they go to a Christmas church service or because their parents identified as Christians) is compromising on today, and should not?Traditional_Amish_buggy Are there things the Church is holding on to, similar to the Amish horse and buggy or 18th century dress, that ought to be compromised?

The Way We Speak To One Another

The public is often appalled at the negative ads on TV during election campaigns, and once again much is being said in the news about all the trash talk flying over digital transmissions and into average voters’ living rooms, and cell phones, and tablets.

How odd, I think. Mitt Romney is going after President Obama, accusing him of all kinds of things. But apparently he doesn’t realize that something like 48 percent of voters still approve of what the President is doing.

Why, I wonder, can’t politicians wake up and realize that everyone they attack has fans who in turn may become defensive and much opposed to the one on the attack. Wouldn’t it be wiser to give the opponent the benefit of the doubt as another citizen who wants to do what’s best for the country, but who has a different vision for how to achieve that?

Seems to me, then, that people who are tepid about the President’s performance just might embrace this kinder, gentler approach that doesn’t tear down the man or besmirch the office, but that lays out a plan that will bring about different results.

But no. We live in the age of Jerry Springer.

Yet, how we talk to one another isn’t so different from how people talked to each other down through the centuries. Job’s friends prove this. Though they are often characterized as having bad theology, which they did, they also ended up getting into a sparring contest with Job, as if it was more important to win an argument with a man devastated by grief and loss than it was to let him talk out his problems.

In chapter 16 Job called them mockers, and apparently Bildad took offense. He responded in chapter 18, “Why are we regarded as beasts,/As stupid in your eyes?” But he wasn’t content to ask Job why. He himself went on the attack. Some of what he said doesn’t sound so bad — until you remember who is sitting across from him: a man who lost the bulk of his wealth, whose children had all been killed, who was covered with oozing sores, and was sitting in an ash heap.

Indeed, the light of the wicked goes out,
And the flame of his fire gives no light.
The light in his tent is darkened,
And his lamp goes out above him.
His vigorous stride is shortened,
And his own scheme brings him down.
For he is thrown into the net by his own feet,
And he steps on the webbing.
A snare seizes him by the heel,
And a trap snaps shut on him.
A noose for him is hidden in the ground,
And a trap for him on the path.
All around terrors frighten him,
And harry him at every step.
His strength is famished,
And calamity is ready at his side.
His skin is devoured by disease,
The firstborn of death devours his limbs.
He is torn from the security of his tent,
And they march him before the king of terrors.
There dwells in his tent nothing of his;
Brimstone is scattered on his habitation.

His roots are dried below,
And his branch is cut off above.
Memory of him perishes from the earth,
And he has no name abroad.
He is driven from light into darkness,
And chased from the inhabited world.
He has no offspring or posterity among his people,
Nor any survivor where he sojourned.

Those in the west are appalled at his fate,
And those in the east are seized with horror.
Surely such are the dwellings of the wicked,
And this is the place of him who does not know God.
[emphases mine]

Here’s Bildad’s speech in summary: So, Job, all the horrible things that have happened to you? That’s what happens to people who don’t know God. Guess what that means about your spiritual condition!

I’m sorry, but that was nothing short of mean!

Of course, the apostles weren’t far from this same way of thinking when they asked Jesus if they should call down fire on the Samaritans who didn’t welcome Him because he was headed toward Jerusalem (see Luke 9:52-54).

In contrast, this is what Paul said to the Romans:

Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse. Rejoice with those who rejoice, and weep with those who weep. (Rom 12:14-15)

Jesus makes a radical difference in how we talk to one another — or should. I wonder how a Christian campaigning like a Christian would fare in today’s political climate.

I wonder if Tim Tebow would consider running for office. 😆

Published in: on January 18, 2012 at 6:27 pm  Comments (2)  
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