“For, in fact, the kingdom of God is among you.”
THERE ARE NO WALLS BUILT AROUND THE KINGDOM OF HEAVEN
The issue of immigration is complicated and controversial. There are many sides to a discussion about immigration that require deep critical thinking. Some will stop when they find a point of view they agree with and others will press forward. The issue separates families and can be the cause of the end of lifelong relationships.
As a Christian writer my first place to stop on any issue is the Gospel. Where would be Jesus be on this issue? Would Jesus build walls? Would Jesus let anybody cross a defined border? A place to start is with the Samaritans.
Jesus’s social and national group was with the people of Judah as stated in Matthew 1:1-6. But many of his teachings lift up the people of Samaria. People like the Good Samaritan, the Woman at the Well or the Lepers he cured. The Samaritans were foreigners or aliens of the tribe of Judah.
The Samaritans at one point had been united with the people of Judah, but after the death of King Solomon they split from the people of Judah. Many years later at the time of Jesus walking the earth the people of Judah and Samaria no longer knew the exact reasons for the split, just that the Samaritans were despised by the people of Judah. Yet Jesus continued to reach out to them and praise them in his words, Parables and sayings. Essentially, Jesus took each individual from both groups on a case by case basis. Jesus knew no boundaries in his mission to the world, just that he was the Son of man and he came to serve. Nor did Jesus define the Kingdom of Heaven as only for his tribe, but for all humankind.
We can receive no more important evidence than today, there are 2.19 billion Christians spread throughout the world. Some from the North Atlantic countries, others from South America and Africa. There are Christians in Australia and many parts of Asia. Christians come in all forms; by gender, by socioeconomic circumstances, race and geography.
In our current period, immigration has become an important issue of debate. There are those that say, immigrants commit less crime than native born. Well that’s not exactly correct. A study of 6 major cities in America where immigrants represented almost 20% of the population committed 19% of the crime. Equal to that of native born.
Sure we can come up with one off examples of heinous crimes committed by aliens, we can also do the same for native born.
There are some that will say that immigrants take up more resources then they contribute. Similar to crime statistics, both immigrants and native born citizens can over tax the system unfairly. But there are places like Lewiston Maine, where the city is almost destitute because of immigrants and their overburdening the available resources. But there are other places where that is not true.
There are some who will say that immigrants don’t want our culture and want to impose their cultural norms. This is true in some cases. In some cases immigrants believe religious beliefs should be the rule of law, which is directly opposed to the 1st amendment. Certainly, assimilation in the existing cultural and legal norms is a critical issue.
There are some that will say illegal immigrants go against the “Rule of Law” when they enter illegally. That is true they are violating the law. However, becoming a legal immigrant is costly. It requires hiring an attorney to navigate the very complicated process and can cost $5,000 to $15,000 to comply. For many this financial cost is a lifetime of earnings. Many that come want a better and brighter future for their children and are willing to risk breaking the law because they don’t have the resources to navigate a complicated immigration structure.
These are complicated issues and our opinions are developed based on our own life experiences, which vary from person to person.
Certainly we can all agree that criminals should not be allowed to cross our borders. Certainly we can all agree that all, both native born and immigrants need to pay their way. Certainly all that come should comply with the laws of our nation.
But there are many great immigrants who have come to our country and made it a better place. In the world of medicine or science immigrants have made our country greater. There are some who have come to find our country as a place of refuge, to be protected against tyrants that exist in other lands.
The two periods of our greatest economic growth, both in the 1890’s and 1990’s saw the greatest influx of immigrants.
Taking one side or the other will certainly solve some of the problems, but not all. This issue is too complicated for a simple answer.
What I do know is that Jesus would encourage us to treat each individual as unique and not pre-judge based on our individual life experiences. He would implore us to give every citizen of the world a fair chance and not judge others based on race, gender, country of origin or socioeconomic position. He would ask us to value each person as a child of God and not judge. There is a reason Jesus lifted up the Samaritans, despite his own tribal affiliation. And there is a reason Jesus said, “The kingdom of God is among you.”
Blessings, until next time,
Bruce L. Hartman
Photo by Conor Luddy
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