I lived in Texas most of my life, then my family and I moved to a small town (population 660) in Western Kentucky. I am going to be brutally honest with you for moment: until I married a white man, most of my friends were Latinos. I didn’t mean for that to be, I just hung around them more. I talked to white people here and there, but my closest friends were not white. I could go on and on about how we tend to migrate (no pun intended) towards people who look like us, but I will save that for another blog. What I want to talk about today is illegal immigration. I know that these words can stir up so much emotion on all sides, but I come hoping just to clarify my thoughts and where I stand on this issue.
My mother was born in a tiny town called El Potrero (near Monterrey), Nuevo Leon Mexico. My dad was born in Houston, Texas. My mother lived in Mexico until she married my dad. Due to her marriage to my father – a U.S. citizen, she obtained a permanent resident status i.e. the famed green card. They began their life in Houston. Years later, my dad decided to join the U.S. Border Patrol and that moved us to El Paso and then Harlingen, Texas. Most of my life, I have lived in border towns. Seeing illegal immigrants where I worked, at my church, in my home was something normal. I even knew a lady who would visit her family in Mexico every Christmas and would come in illegally every year!. I was friends with any and all who wanted to be my friend. As Mexican-Americans (literally), we hung around others like us, some just happened to be here illegally.
Now that I live in a tiny town in Kentucky our home is still open to all. We have had doctors and meth-heads who have come into my home. We have allowed single mothers to live with us as well as taken in foster kids. We have adopted 4 children of different ages and ethnic backgrounds. Every month at least 80 people come into my home to share a meal, a story, or just to chat for a while. People are always staying the night and on weekends half the time I don’t know whose kid is at my house. We have had people representing 8 different nationalities eat with us, stay with us and love on us throughout our 8 years of living in this area. I love feeding anyone who is hungry or not so hungry and I truly strive to open up not just my home but also my life to anyone from any walk of life. I do this because I am a Christian and God being so rich in mercy took me, a Gentile woman, and gave me an inheritance along with His Son. He adopted me into His family and I – a stranger, an alien, a non-Jew – am now a part of His eternal family. I am telling you all this because what I am about to say isn’t coming from a life lived in seclusion or from the safety of my home. I truly try to live out my faith to love on the neighbor God has placed in my life.
When I as a Christian love on my neighbor, it is out of obedience to what He calls me to do, but as a nation I also believe that we must uphold our laws. Personally, I do not ask for IDs for someone coming into my home. If you have a warrant for your arrest, are illegally here or if you have unpaid taxes that doesn’t change my hospitality towards you. But, as a country, there are consequences to breaking our laws that thankfully are not mine to uphold. If judges turned the other cheek when passing sentence, our society would turn into chaos. If our army loved the enemy as Christians do, frankly I would probably be writing this blog in Russian or Chinese. If we allowed all to come into our country without a vetting process, our economy and society would not be able to sustain itself. We are in this world as Christians to love, but that is not the job of our government. Our government isn’t based on grace, but on laws, and to say that the government should behave as a Christian is very dangerous. And to feel guilty because our nation isn’t acting as a Christian would act independently isn’t right. I once saw a show where the radio host purposefully looked at churches who were sanctimoniously on their websites condemning law makers and the government for being cruel for not having open borders. He then called these churches and pretended to be a social worker who needed to place some illegal immigrant children and families in temporary homes. NOT ONE OF THESE CHURCHES took any of them in. NOT ONE had a protocol in place to assist these immigrants. NOT ONE said they wanted more information. NOT ONE! The hypocrisy was vomit inducing. And that is why I can tell you, if you want to guilt trip this nation to open up its borders, you first. Open up your home without vetting, stop locking your door at night, take in and provide for foster kids or the homeless addict down the road, allow single moms to live rent free, allow a group of immigrant men to live anywhere in your home without questions asked. If you wont do it in your home for obvious reasons, what do you think will happen when those numbers are multiplied in the millions?
God established governing powers because we need structure and the law. We need speed limits and a police force. We need a judicial system that puts dangerous people in prison. We need punishments and sentences. And yes, I will say it, we need immigration policy and laws. Let us not forget that we live in a very evil world. People are murderers, rapists, slanderers and just plain cruel. There are people who rob and steal and cause misery and pain. This world is broken and dark, and as Christians we know it because the light brushes with darkness all the time. And if the law begins to violate our conscience (for example for me legalizing abortion), we are blessed that we can vote a certain way and voice are opinions. We can volunteer, advocate and do something about our concerns. Don’t just complain about an issue, do something about it. That is another great thing about this country: I can place my concerns or any apparent inhumanity into action. The problem arises when you try to force others to live a certain way, when you yourself do not live out that life.
Individually, yes the Christian life is risky and can be dangerous. It always is when we leave our comfort and try to be a light in this world. Yes, I have had things stolen, walls and doors busted up, and ungrateful recipients of our love. We have been slandered and used, but we can do all these things because we have the freedom of living in a safe nation with laws. We have freedom to love our God and our neighbor because we are safe to do so. We have resources to give because we have an economic system that allows us to make money to pay for those things.
Are there people fleeing awful places, yes. And as a Christian if someone like them shows up near me, I will be the first to put my money where my mouth is and take them in and love on them the best I can. I already have and will continue to do so. But, as a nation, we cannot save everyone and we must have laws in order for us to protect our way of life. Are there people fleeing the law, yes. And as a Christian I will love on them the best I can. I already have and will continue to do so, no questions asked. But as a country this person has a reckoning with a judge and will have to face his/her consequences eventually.
As Christians, our lives should be lived with open borders allowing all who want to come to Christ to come, forgiving all from all because we have been forgiven so much, but we would struggle to live this kind of life if our nation did the same thing.
Dear Christian, I do not feel guilty and neither should you for not wanting open borders or for wanting a wall. Things like this are necessary. When Paul was in trouble he used the law to protect himself (Acts 22:22-29), and it was the law that kept him from being crucified and only beheaded. In this world, we need the law. And laws placed for our safety is a good thing. It provides us with freedom other people from other countries are willing to risk their lives to experience. Why else would Hong Kong protesters wave American flags or so many travel thousand of miles to get here?
I want to end this with an exhortation. Christian, love your neighbor, open your home, take a risk to further His Kingdom, give of your time and money, live in forgiveness and grace. Leave the law and the safety to the world. They need it more.