I know that there are many of you that are engaging, debating, learning, and wrestling with the issue known to most as Immigration Reform or known to others as, “What the Arizona?” And these debates and discussion will continue with more and more incidents like this one.
One thing that is clear to me is that no matter where you might “stand” on the issue, silence should not be an option but from my view (and I can be wrong), the church – especially evangelical Christian churches and its leaders – have been mostly silent. While I know that many are still “waiting” to receive & research more details and “praying” about how to respond, don’t just pray and wait - and remain silent.
But what are your thoughts:
How are YOU engaging and wrestling with this issue?
What are your thoughts about the AZ Immigration Law SB 1070?
Does Governor Brewer’s changes to the original law make a difference?
Here are some of my thoughts:
- It’s nonsensical to throw out terms like “racist” or “racism.” It doesn’t help the dialogue. Let’s not demonize and vilify one another.
- No one in their right mind is advocating for open borders.
- For goodness sake, do not criminalize acts of mercy and compassion.
- Governor Brewer: ““These new amendments make it crystal clear and undeniable that racial profiling is illegal and will not be tolerated in Arizona.” – Hmm.
While I disagree with Arizona’s bill, I somewhat understand their intent. People are afraid for various reasons but the fear isn’t driving people towards justice but towards xenophobia and if our laws and personal actions are fueled by xenophobia, we become less of a country, a society, and certainly, less of a Christian nation that some claim us to be (which we are not – I don’t care how many times Palin says “You betcha were a Christian nation.”). But rather on focusing on Arizona’s leadership, I’m looking to President Obama and our national leadership to pursue what is necessary: a balanced, fair, and compassionate Comprehensive Immigration Reform. Tick tock. Tick tock.
- And for us as followers of Christ, let’s not get sucked into the mantra of fear. Heed the words of Scripture:
When an alien lives with you in your land, do not mistreat him. The alien living with you must be treated as one of your native-born. Love him as yourself, for you were aliens in Egypt. I am the LORD your God. [Leviticus 19:33-34]
Do not mistreat the alien or oppress him, for you were aliens in Egypt. Do not oppress an alien; you yourselves know what it feels to be aliens, because you were aliens in Egypt. [Exodus 23:9]
While this is my personal blog, I also know that I am associated with numerous organizations so I have tried to be careful in both maintaining my “freedom” as an individual but also acknowledging that I’m connected to a larger community. And so with care but also with conviction, I share these words with a small but growing group of leaders including my friend, Walter Contreras (Director of Outreach and Hispanic Church Planting, Pacific Southwest Conference of the Evangelical Covenant Church).
While we wait for Washington to lead our nation in a comprehensive approach to immigration reform, states like Arizona are taking drastic measures with shocking implications.
Unfortunately, this law is not actually about fixing our woefully broken immigration system and making our country work better. Instead, it stirs up panic and suspicion and creates the possibility and temptation for racial profiling and increased discrimination against those with brown skin. This law allows people to be stopped by police if there is “a reasonable suspicion of being undocumented.” Encouraging these fearful sentiments is wrong and immoral. It also sets us painfully backwards as a nation in a time when we need real solutions to move us forward.
The irony is that this bill, under a guise of increasing safety for Americans, actually creates a perilous mistrust between immigrant communities and law enforcement. Those who are victims or witnesses of violent crimes, theft or abuse will be terrified to speak to police, increasing real threats to our children and our communities’ safety.
However, one of the most odious aspects of this new law is the implications for the church and faith institutions. The law states that those who “knowingly transport or harbor” undocumented immigrants will be at risk of arrest. Therefore, driving the sick to a doctor or offering shelter and food to the hungry – a direct command of our Christian faith — could be unlawful. As you may be aware, many people of faith have already told Arizona politicians, “we will not comply.”
Political leaders must not prey on the fears of the American population and legislate laws that trample the poor and the “stranger.” Immigrants are not political chess pieces, but part of our communities, our churches and our families.
We must have the courage to deal with our broken immigration system in a complete way that addresses the reality that millions of immigrants in our country are without a viable path towards citizenship. Arizona is a clarion call to all of us that our system is broken and needs to be fixed now.
And just in case some of us think that this is something that takes place only near border areas between Arizona and Mexico, check out this horrible incident that took place in my so-called enlightened city – Seattle. This incident took place about a week ago and approximately two miles away from our church.
“I’m going to beat the f**king Mexican piss out of you Homey. You feel me?”