Eugene Cho

Arizona, Immigration, and Xenophobia.

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?”

So wrong…


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108 Responses - Comments are closed.

  1. Evelyn says:

    Arizona’s new immigration law may have been aimed at deporting as many illegal immigrants as possible, but an ironic side effect will allow more undocumented residents to apply for temporary work visas and permanent U.S. citizenship, according to research by the Arizona Capitol Times.
    Do you still support the Law, make your voice heard on

  2. Judy OMeara says:

    Please check out the Hispanic News done by Jon Garrido. We both believe there is a problem with the drug cartel & the drop houses in Arizona, but racial profiling will like you say set us back. We now have a NAZI Germany in AZ. The university can no longer teach individual classes on ones cultural/historical heritage. Remember Hitler burnt the books too! The immigration situation is a volatile issue, this pretense SB 1070 will not keep our borders safe. It will just make us look like racist, which many are. This includes many priest/bishops in Phoenix of whom should be more charitable.

    • Eugene Cho says:

      Thanks for posting

      But in my opinion, comparing the situation in AZ to Nazi Germany is simply not fair.

      And in a much bigger way is equivalent to the slurs and hurls of racism being the one and only factor. It doesn’t move the conversation a single bit.

  3. […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by CCIR and Ken Brooker Langston, Justin Fung. Justin Fung said: RT @CCIR: Pastor @eugenecho on AZ, #immigration & xenophobia: "Silence should not be an option." #ri4a […]

  4. tom.fullmer says:

    Equally troubling is as Judy pointed out high schools cannot teach Ethnic Studies classes nor are teachers with “heavy” accents allowed to teach English classes. Additionally I have read that if Russell Pierce becomes the states senate leader he will work to deny AZ birth certificates to children born here by parents who are illegal.

  5. Steven Kim says:

    This is an example of a disastrous rise of misplaced power. We live in a very confusing and confounding times. God is still in control, however, and I still wait for the leading of the Holy Spirit in these circumstances.

  6. Jay says:

    One of the problems I have with the critics of the bill is the fear mongering that they are engaging in. Judy presents a perfect example of that when she claims AZ is now like Nazi Germany. Such sentiments are absolutely absurd.

    SB1070 does not make new law. It does not allow cops to round up suspected illegal aliens based on the color of their skin. All this law does is enforce existing federal law. Arizona for years has practically begged the federal government to do more to enforce immigration laws and the federal government has failed. Arizona decided it was time for them to take action.

    This isn’t the first action. The first happened several years ago when Janet Napolitano signed into law a very tough law that comes down hard on businesses that employ illegal immigrants. Business groups and other civil rights organizations filed lawsuits. Why? Because they claimed it was unconstitutional and would invite racial profiling. Sound familiar?

    “Reasonable suspicion” has been used in law enforcement agencies for decades. Federal immigration laws apply there as well. In fact, the people advising AZ police departments on how to enforce the new law are telling them: mirror federal guidelines on reasonable suspicion.

    As for heeding the words of scripture, 1 Peter 2 13-17 makes clear we should respect governing authorities and their laws as long as it is not apart from God’s authority.

    • tom.fullmer says:

      Read these articles about the Maricopa County Sheriff’s Office and reasonable suspicion/doubt.

    • Andy M says:

      While I understand your viewpoint of Judy’s comment, and I don’t think that it helps the situation, I don’t see how such sentiments are “absolutely absurd”. Human history shows us that all humans are capable of those kinds of actions, and it is reasonable to compare certain actions being taken in the state of AZ to actions performed by such regimes as the Nazis. There are similarities whether we like it or not.

      Having said that, I don’t believe that it will go anywhere near that far.

      The leadership in AZ may not mean for racial profiling to happen, but it will happen within the framework that they have set up. If you give an Arizona police officer instructions to search for people who may be illegal immigrants, the obvious choice for them to look for is Hispanic people given the proximity to Mexico. This framework tells them to check for illegals, but don’t profile. Practically, the only thing for police officers to do in that situation is to either check every single person that crosses their path, or profile people. “Reasonable Suspicion” is so unbelievably vague that it doesn’t mean anything. It is subjective and unhelpful.

      Heeding the words of scripture, yes we are to respect governing authorities, “as long as it is not apart from God’s authority” You admit this. Reread the scriptures that Eugene points out. To treat our immigrants how this law will treat them is unbiblical and against God’s Word. So we are biblically mandated to not uphold the unbiblical laws of this country.

      Current immigration laws make criminals out of many people who are children, or just trying to survive, or find a better life than the poverty they live in, just like our ancestors. I agree we need to have laws, and uphold them, but it is more complicated than just, “they are here illegally, so ship em out!”

      • Jeremy says:

        @Andy M: Police officers are not supposed to check the immigration statues of everyone they see or come into contact with; my understanding is it’s only those that are already being investigated/arrested.

      • Jay says:

        and it is reasonable to compare certain actions being taken in the state of AZ to actions performed by such regimes as the Nazis.

        No it is NOT reasonable and that is precisely my point. It’s a cowardly way of avoiding having a rational debate about the issue. If you believe it’s the equivalent of Nazism (in any way) then you’d have to say that federal law, which has been on the books for decades is also Nazism, but it’s funny. I’ve never heard anybody describe the federal law in that way.

        Your knowledge of what constitutes “reasonable suspicion” is extremely poor. I’m sorry but it just is. The fact of the matter is “reasonable suspicion” is not at all vague when you read the guidelines to that properly adhere to it. It’s up to the state to maintain that level of education amongst their officers and that is precisely what Arizona is doing.

        As for Scripture, I stand by what I wrote. The law is not going to treat “immigrants” in any way. The law targets “illegal” immigrants with the key word being “illegal.”

        There are millions of people each year that bust their rear ends to come to this country and do so legally. I am a major a supporter of making that process easier which is full of red tape. However, we’re doing nothing but spitting in the faces of those who do come to this country legally by refusing to enforce the laws on our books that deal with illegal immigrants.

        • Andy M says:

          It is reasonable, ONLY in the sense that we acknowledge wrongs of the past and that we do not want to repeat them. There are similarities between the AZ law and things that happened in Nazi Germany. But they are not as extreme, and the likelihood of the same thing happening is extremely slim, which is why I said “Having said that, I don’t believe that it will go anywhere near that far.”

          My point is only to say that it does not do us well to ignore any similarities simply because, “it just couldn’t happen here!” But like I said, I don’t believe it will ever go that far.

          I had felt that I had made it fairly clear that I actually DO NOT believe that Arizona is doing the exact same thing as the Nazis, but apparently not. I DO NOT believe that, but it is reasonable to recognize certain possible similarities between the current context and different historical situations within a rational debate.

          There is already racial profiling happening in Arizona in this context, so apparently Arizona is not “doing” that quite so much as you say. If the framework encourages profiling, and so you add it extra guidelines and education to keep profiling from happening, it will still happen. What is needed is a change in framework. “Reasonable suspicion” is the framework, which is vague and unhelpful and will encourage profiling.

          Does being illegal change the fact that they are immigrants, or that they are fellow human beings? The majority of illegals are not criminals, drug people, or murdurers, they are simply people trying to survive or find a better life. Our immigration system makes it nearly impossible for them to do it legally, so they take what options they have.

          I’m all for doing things legally, I’m all for making it easier, but treating current illegals like they are criminal scum isn’t helpful. Many of them are children who were brought here by their parents. Are they criminals?

          As a follower of Christ, I must support all people, regardless of whether they are here legally or not. And if a legal immigrant feels insulted by my supporting immigration reform that doesn’t do what Arizona is doing right now, then fine. I don’t particularly care. Apparently they were fortunate enough to be able to afford, have enough time, and are educated enough to go through the process legally. They should just be thankful for how blessed they are already.

          And, because I believe that the current laws are unfair and unjust, and I believe they are unbiblical, which means that by your own argument “1 Peter 2 13-17 makes clear we should respect governing authorities and their laws as long as it is not apart from God’s authority.” I have no obligation to respect these unjust laws. Scripture does not differentiate between illegal immigrant and legal immigrant.

  7. Drew says:

    I’m in full support of reforming immigration laws to simplify and expedite the legal citizenship process. Right now that process is ridiculously difficult and inefficient, and I can hardly blame people for crossing our borders illegally.

    The reason I don’t agree with the AZ law is that I don’t think the means justify the ends. Is getting rid of illegals worth violating the human rights of Latinos (which will inevitably happen under this law)? Should police really be given the power to arrest and detain a person without a warrant? What kind of message does that send about the integrity of our law enforcement? Does “innocent until proven guilty” not apply to people suspected of being here illegally?

  8. Melanie says:

    My thoughts have been Yes Feds need to do more to secure the border.This law in AZ is bringing light to a topic of immigration and is from what I see just here on facebook stirring the pot for racism,especially in other states where they arent totally informed. It is ignorance I know,but the common theme I am hearing is “Illegals are taking American Jobs” thats a nice comment..wont mention the mean and hateful ones.and whether people want to admit it or always refers to “brown skin”.
    My thoughts are Why have they been coming here why do they risk their lives, I saw a stat the other day 5,000 have died in the desert in the last 13 yrs trying to come here. We give them the jobs,so we in my opinion are holding the bait. We need to step back look at what has happend and is going on and look at how we can have a reform that is humane.How can we maybe help Mexico sustain itself better..I dont know maybe these are crazy ideas.
    My other thought regarding this is that allot of this has come to light because of the drug violence on the border..well who is buying the drugs? Again I feel like we hold the bait. I know I have already been verbally assaulted for my thoughts.
    And I will still help an Alien,because many are just like you or I and only want the best for their children and themselves.

  9. Melanie says:

    Oh and Russell Pearce lost his credibility with me when pics of him and a white supremacist were taken.

  10. Jin says:

    My sentiments are exactly yours, Melanie. We hold the bait, and we’ve taken advantage of Mexicans on both sides of the border and we need to take responsibility for that. The changes go way beyond immigration, and need to address our illegal activities we’ve engaged in domestic business by hiring and taking advantage of illegal aliens, as well as our drug hunger and suspect business practices in Mexico while we need to be supporting our neighbors economically as well.
    Our government policy foremost should be the protection of our citizens as it always has been, and that should be our immigration policy. AZ’s law does not protect our citizens (especially ones that may “look” illegal), and empowers law enforcement beyond where it should be. I don’t really know why you posted that video because it has little to do with immigration policy, but it sure shows that this cop is a racist and i’m outraged that the seattle police have been protecting him.

  11. Steven Kim says:

    With any law there always exists two extreme, competing sides: National Security v. One’s Freedom; Freedom of Speech v. Inciting Violence; and, on and on.

    It’s very easy for all of us to always look through the lens that best fit our perspective. As a lawyer, I’ve been trained to argue both sides. Before we jump to conclusions or get passionate about only “our” rights, we ought to empathize or at the least put ourselves in the shoes of those we disagree with.

    One thing is clear. Federal Immigration law is not being enforced, and the Feds have (politically?) ignored the situation at hand to the point where Arizona had to act in these exigent circumstances.

    We are all fallen people, and the world is fallen. We cannot expect our government to be anything, but fallen as well.

  12. […] or known to others as, What the Arizona? And these debates and discussion will continue with …This Post Cancel […]

  13. Steve S. says:

    Liberals on this issue seem to have little understanding of how the law (any law, not just this particular one) actually works: “Should police really be given the power to arrest and detain a person without a warrant?”

    Police do not need a warrant to arrest or detain anyone, ever. They never have.

    ‘AZ’s law does not protect our citizens (especially ones that may “look” illegal)’

    This seems to imply that the very act of talking to a police officer is a violation. I can’t understand that! Why is it a problem for an officer to ask for documentation? I have had it happen to me at least a dozen times…

    Conservatives seem to fail to understand the legitimate structural issues at work. If our system incentivizes behaviors that we don’t want it to, then we need to change our system. The platitude from the business world works well here: “Your current system is perfectly designed to produce your current results.”

    Both sides need to cool their jets, and have rational conversations…

    • Andy M says:

      You seem to have little understanding of the liberal viewpoint. I’m sorry, I’m not a liberal, but since you threw that comment out there I thought I would too. I doubt there are many liberals out there that question a police officer’s need to ask for documentation.

      An officer asking for documentation isn’t the problem, it is an officer only asking a certain kind of people, specifically in this context Hispanics, for documentation. That is racial profiling and is wrong and illegal. Now, whether this law is meant to do so or not, the framework created by this law will lead to racial profiling.

      As a white man I would bet money that if I went to Arizona I would never get asked for proof of citizenship or legal status just because I looked “Reasonably suspicious”.

      I do agree with your comment on changing system problems. We desperately need that on many levels, and not just enforcement.

  14. john says:

    Here’s the article about a new Arizona law targeting ethnic studies:

    This is ridiculous!

  15. Steve R says:

    I just moved to the Phoenix area in September of 2009, so from this side of things I’m pretty much a newbie. I really believe SB1070 was signed purely w/ political motive…motive to get re-elected, and motive to “force” the Federal Gov’t hand to do something. From what I’ve observed since we moved here, the local law enforcement was already doing what opponents of the law fear…now it’s simply legal for them to do it.

  16. Leslie Gilbertson says:

    As I was discussing this bill with some of my fellow prosecutorial minded attorneys, we think that a crime that depends on proof of citizenship is not presecutable. I envision a scenario in which a person is arrested, envokes their right to silence, is appointed an attorney and remains silent. How, as a prosecutor, is one supposed to prove citizenship of someone undocumented without their assistance.

    Because of this, I believe this bill is nothing more than posturing for voters before another big election. Its proponents want us to see how the federal government is unresponsive to fears about immigration…how the federal government is not on the side of “real” America to leverage votes in 2012.

    Aside from the racial controversy…this is bad law if it is not enforceable…just a thought…

  17. Matt K says:

    Its an insane law; insanely unjust and insanity to try and execute. What I think is being left out of the discussion is that the racial profiling is probably just as likely to target legal residents as it is undocumented. Arizona is full of people of Mexican ancestry who have lived there legally for generations, not to mention other legal residents who are Latino and Spanish-speaking.

    One other thing, I know that we “progressive Christians” love to talk about what the evangelical church is failing to do, but this is a case where the evangelical church is actually out in front of the issue:

  18. Leslie Gilbertson says:

    In reading a few of these comments I thought I would add one more thing. An officer can make casual contact with a person and ask whatever questions they would like. A person has the right to discontinue that contact with the officer at will unless the officer has probable cause to detain them. This is even prior to arrest.
    With this Arizona law, the problem is how do you articulate probable cause to compel someone to produce proof of citizenship without racial profiling? The solution isn’t to require anyone and everyone to carry proof. That’s unconstitutional in my view and a violation of any citizen’s civil liberties….so how do you distinguish without resorting to physical/ cultural markers?

  19. Steven Kim says:

    By the way, did any of you read the actual law? I did not. I’d love to read and analyze it and form a more informed decision rather than pour more fuel into the rhetoric and posturing.

  20. danderson says:

    1. I’m generally against the AZ law, but I’m not sure why since I live in Wisconsin.

    2. I teach a classroom full of Latino students. They and their parents are some of the greatest people you’ll ever meet.

    3. Some of these kids’ families are very broken because of individual irresponsibility on the part of the father. They’re destined for gang involvement, which I fear is cycling out of control in this country. Ask any police officer with knowledge of what’s going on.

    4. Ethnic studies are nothing more than a code word for Leftist bashing of white people. We need to have a common core knowledge curriculum in our schools, where kids are not coerced into what to believe, but develop sound independent minds free from left-wing (or right-wing bias).

    • Melissa says:

      Have you ever taken an ethnic studies class? Because I have, and I did not find it full of “leftish bashing of white people”. I am white, and I found it extremely interesting. I didn’t feel bashed. However, I did notice that the content included a lot of things that are normally left out of the “common core knowledge” – which could also be called “history of white people with a few references to MLK and Frederick Douglass, and maybe Rosa Parks.”

      If we are really serious about allowing students the freedom to develop independent minds, then censoring their curriculum (and history) to only include our own agenda ought to be the LAST thing we do.

      And one last note: “ethnic studies” also includes the scandinavian studies department at the UW. Leftist bashing of white people? Really?

  21. Richard says:

    As a foreign national who has been in this country for years, the Arizona law feels like the most unwelcoming thing I’ve experienced thus far.

    Between the fingerprinting and the ever-changing immigration laws and the punditry, since september 12, 2001 there’s been a fair amount of things that has made me feel uncomfortable. Somehow this feels different. This feels like the closest thing to “You are second class and so you should know your place,” that I’ve felt.

    Even assuming that there will be no racial profiling, or that they will not mistakenly arrest American citizens. It means that if I’m ever in Arizona, as a foreign national, I pretty much have to justify my right to be in this country whenever I interact with the law. Which says to me that I’m not wanted here, and it would really be more pleasant for everyone if I left.

    • Jay says:

      It means that if I’m ever in Arizona, as a foreign national, I pretty much have to justify my right to be in this country whenever I interact with the law.

      No. It doesn’t.

      • Richard says:

        That’s what it feels like though.

        Here’s why:-
        I’m a foreign national with a u.s. drivers license. I’m not a permanent resident, which means there is a point where my being in the country can be illegal despite having a driver’s license.

        Law enforcement in AZ is required (at the risk of being sued) to verify my status on the basis of reasonable suspicion. The problem is that “reasonable suspicion” is undefined. With the above, it is possible that I’m currently in this country illegally. If that possibility is cause for reasonable suspicion, then I have to be ready to justify my presence at all times. If, knowing the above paragraph, it isn’t reasonable suspicion, then until I actually go up to a police officer and say that I am in the country illegally, or I am driving with an expired driver’s license, there’s never going to be a reason where an officer should try to verify my status.

        I can’t think of (and nobody has yet told me of)an alternative to these scenarios. And in reading the law, it seems as if the practice leans towards the latter scenario, the agency will get sued.

        If there is a third scenario, I’d love to hear it. Quite frankly, I don’t like feeling this way, and I honestly would like to be wrong this time.

        This is, however what’s been communicated to me and the circle of international friends I hang out with.

    • tim says:

      I have been a US citizen and I was finger printed 25 years ago to get my drivers license. I don’t feel bad that we want to know who is coming and going from our country. This is ridiculous, why should people that are not US citizens have rights that US citizens don’t get?

  22. […] Cho had a post about the Arizona law asking for comments. I’ve been thinking about the law and haven’t […]

  23. danderson says:

    How many African people or Asian people are allowed into our country each year? Why can’t anyone who wants to enter our country, enter it? Why do we allow a certain language and culture and not another?

    There will always be a certain segment of the population who will always want to bash America, even though we provide jobs for millions and are privately among the most generous people on earth. It’s also funny how some like to trot out our Christianity when it comes to issues like this but not when it comes to social issues like abortion or homosexuality. Perhaps that’s what eats up conservatives so much — our hypocrisy in applying Scripture.

    • Andy M says:

      Who exactly is “bashing” America? And who pulls out their Christianity with this issue, but not with abortion and homosexuality? And I’m not even sure how to take your hypocrisy statement, do you mean conservatives are hypocrites, or that others are?

      I’m just not sure where you are coming from on this. And I have to make the point that, being critical of is not “bashing” and I haven’t seen any America “bashing” here.

  24. Brian says:

    I appreciate your work on this, Eugene; your post alone helps break the silence. I would proffer that as a people of faith, we are often to individually oriented to properly weigh into issues like this. We become overwhelmed, because it is too much for “me” to handle. Because our faith communities are filled with this perspective, we’ve lost sight of what it means to engage as a community to care for the stranger, alien, and poor in our land. Our churches/faith expressions have lacked a real basis for a communal response. Just a thought…

    As far as a request made for seeing the actual law -via Stephen Kim- here’s a small portion of bill 2281 that a friend of mine posted in a Facebook conversation. It’s not much, but it’s a bit of the actual text…

    15-111. Declaration of policy
    15-112. Prohibited courses and classes; … See More

    The lion’s share of this bill reads….DON”T DISCRIMINATE or teach ethnic exculsion.

    • Brian says:

      Oh, sorry. The last “lion’s share” comment is also my friends personal opinion, not my own. I’m not in agreement with it as to it’s performance in communicating “don’t discriminate.” By the proxy and assumptions of the language, it does so all by itself. Whose culture, then, determines which ethnic backgrounds to leave out? It’s myopic view would stand alone as interesting conversation if it weren’t so dangerous. As Eugene mentions in the broad scope of a dialogue about engaging in this conversation, in 15-112 1 the language itself reveals a legislation of fear. It raises all manner of questions, in and of itself…

  25. In January a group of 150 or more ministry leaders from around the country went to Phoenix to meet with ministry and church leaders there to pray, study the scripture, talk among ourselves and the immigrant people there. Some traveled to the border and talked with people who minister to people at the border and to some of the people waiting to cross at Nogales. Part of the discussion was about this law and its consequences if it were to pass. Most of us committed to action. We committed to call for comprehensive immigration reform, to pray for the people who are affected by the current broken system. We committed to treating all people as God’s beautiful creation, to love our neighbors as ourselves, and to demonstrate God’s love to the world by loving immigrants. There were no official statements signed but among the 20 or so people who traveled from California, these were the comments we made. Some of us, concerned about the impact of this new law committed to return to Phoenix to help if necessary. Ministry leaders committed to continue to serve the poor and the stranger regardless of their immigration status and even in the face of doing their ministry illegally. Some committed to return if pastors or youth leaders were arrested. We committed to go and get arrested too. And we would do so until the jails are full.

  26. Steven Kim says:

    I’m wondering if Jesus ever broke laws because he didn’t agree with it. I pray that wisdom will prevail over one’s perspective, and that we allow the Holy Spirit to lead.

  27. elderj says:

    So the law says that if a law enforcement officer in the course of conducting a lawful detention or investigation of a crime has reasonable suspicion that the person might be an illegal immigrant, they are allowed to ascertain their citizenship status? And this is Nazism? Boy we have a poor understanding of history if we think this is national socialism at work.

    And the law simply mirrors federal statute. So AZ is wrong for doing that too?

    I don’t know that we should be bandying about words of scripture loosely. The alien living among the people of Israel was subject to the same laws as the Israelites, but did not have some of the same rights, unless they decided to become one of the people through joining themselves to the covenant (circumcision being the sign). Not to mention the people that Israel held in forced bondage.

    Human rights of Hispanics are violated by this? How is ascertaining someone who is stopped by police because they’re committing a crime and ascertaining their citizenship status a human rights violation?

    This kind of hyperbolic knee-jerk response is unhelpful and frankly unChristian.

    • Andy M says:

      There are human rights issues attached to this. It is hugely problematic to force everyone to always carry around proof of their legal status. And the cultural context in Arizona means that Hispanics will be targeted.

      I’m sure you may disagree, but know that people believing that these laws violate human rights is not just a knee-jerk response.

      “The law simply mirrors federal statute. So AZ is wrong for doing that too?” The Federal law needs changed as well.

      The people that Israel held in forced bondage, were held so unbiblically. And yes, aliens in Israel were subject to the same laws, but there weren’t laws saying they couldn’t be there. There was no distinction between “legal” and “illegal” immigrant.

      Scripture about immigrants was very clear, treat them fairly and take care of them. Like Eugene quoted, Leviticus states, “The alien living with you must be treated as one of your native-born. Love him as yourself, for you were aliens in Egypt.”

      Dismissing other people’s opinions as “hyperbolic knee-jerk” is unhelpful and frankly unChristian.

      • elderj says:

        “The alien must be treated as a native born.” That is a good quote. If I am committing a crime, and the police stop me, they have a right and obligation to ascertain whether there are any other criminal issues with which I am associated. Being in the US without being a citizen or otherwise properly gone through diplomatic channels is illegal. ergo we are not treating them differently. We are subject to the same law.

        And the reactions (i.e. calling this Nazism) is hyperbolic and often knee-jerk (i.e. complaining about a state law but maintaining silence on the same federal law which has been on the books for decades).

        • Andy M says:

          Read Leslie Gilbertson’s posts above about the problems with prosecuting people on this.

          Outside of that, I believe that a police officer can only look up whether a person has a criminal record, not whether they are a citizen or have legal status. It may become apparent in that process that they are illegal, but if they are illegal then they aren’t in our system which means that we know nothing about them. A person going by an unoffical alias would cause the same situation.

          Calling Arizona a bunch of Nazis is knee-jerk, but your post didn’t make it look like that is what you were referring to. How I read your post is that you were referring to your 3rd and 4th paragraphs as knee-jerk, not the first. I’m sorry to have misunderstood.

          But the opinions that these kinds of laws violate people’s human rights are not knee-jerk reactions. Immigration has been an issue for a very long time. Just because Arizona forced it to the surface of our current political climate, does not mean that it is all of the reactions to it are unfounded.

          “complaining about a state law but maintaining silence on the same federal law which has been on the books for decades.” Like I said before, the Federal Law needs changed as well. I’m not just complaining about a state law, it is a symptom of a larger problem.

          • elderj says:

            I appreciate your consistency on the issue. You’re against both the federal and state statutes, so good.

            Being in the country without papers is illegal. It’s been illegal. If I travel anywhere in the world, I have to have my papers showing that I’m there legitimately. If I can’t show that, I could be jailed, fined, deported – depending on the country. How much more should it be the case that someone who is committing a crime and for whom reasonable suspicion indicates might be in the country illegally should have their legal status verified.

            Does this involved profiling? Yes. Is that always wrong? No.

            • Andy M says:

              How is profiling sometimes ok, and sometimes not? I believe that profiling is always wrong, because much of the time it causes unfair treatment of people who are innocent.

              In AZ, it is Hispanics whom this will affect, whether legal or not. Even if they are a 3rd generation U.S. citizen, Hispanic people will still have to constantly carry around proof of citizenship because this law encourages profiling. That is wrong.

              Even if it didn’t have the racial profiling problem and treated everyone equally, I know that I, as a U.S. citizen, would not appreciate having to always carry around proof of citizenship at the threat of arrest and deportation. That isn’t freedom, that is a climate of fear and is at the very least unAmerican.

  28. marissaburt says:

    I find this frustrating, because I’m not sure what I can actually DO to effect change. I can talk about the need for reform, I can debate my opinion to open the borders, I can point to horrible human rights abuses and instances of modern day slavery of illegal immigrants, I can discuss the economic disadvantages of this kind of legislation and talk about the huge opportunities for in-country manufacture and distribution if we legalize this work force, but what can I DO that will actually make a difference?

    I know there are the obvious things like communicating with my local representatives and being an engaged voter, but any other suggestions?

    • Brian says:

      As a caveat, although I’m offering a great deal here, I’m not an expert and would be remiss to say that these things aren’t happening in our SoCal community. A strike against me, but I often feel the same way: frustrated and overwhelmed! But here’s some feedback about this place we struggle in, for what it’s worth.

      Although it may not be specific enough, we need to empower our faith communities to engage as faith communities to address this. That is, it is too big for you, I, or any other individual to respond to. Our church communities are filled with folks like ourselves, who have only known an “individual calling” or perspective of mission. Where is the church in this? As Eugene mentioned, it’s silent. We simply don’t know how to do communal mission via the broader Mission of God. Our ability to work together in mission is almost non-existent. Or with other faith communities, for that matter!

      What if we began engaging in real relationships with folks in our commmunity that the church is in? (Although this is problematic as well, since many folks commute to church.) How do we begin to know the Latin community, in this case, and begin engaging with them as a church community? Is housing a need? Transportation to school? Public school reform? Mentors needed due to many parents working 2-3 jobs each to make ends meet? What are the local legislative issues that bound their lives? Federal? How does law enforcement, local, regional, and Fed. engage with the immigrant community in our churches neighborhood? Have we both done our research as to the macro/micro context of the immigration community among us, and do we have trusting relationships among them?

      More specific ideas? Start conversations among folks in your faith community. Learn Spanish from the community itself (or whatever the language of an immigrant community among you). Hang out in the part of town they live, or play soccer with them on Saturday mornings, or hire them to do some work for you. But do it with at least one other friend/family to begin to engage communally with another community. As you practice communal mission, maybe the rest of us will learn from you!

      The sanctuary movement seems as though its working to advocate for the immigrant.
      Perhaps its a start, perhaps not. More questions than answers, perhaps…

      • marissaburt says:

        Brian –

        Thanks for the ideas. This is a helpful starting place, and I look forward to checking out the New Sanctuary Movement website. M

  29. Terri says:

    I read the law to become more informed for discussion.

    The racial aspect of the law is undeniable. Why would I say that? Because I can’t help but wonder if Canadian snowbirds who go to Arizona for the winters (and stay beyond their legal time limits) would ever be stopped and asked for documentation. They would be just as (il)legal as the people who come from south of the U.S., but because of the way they look and how well they integrate culturally, they would likely not be treated as their southern counterpart would be.

  30. Steven Kim says:

    Let’s ask some basic questions here:

    How should the Christian community at large respond to those immigrants (whatever nation they might be from) who are present in the US ILLEGALLY? In fact, how should Christians react to anyone who breaks any law? Of course, forgiveness is in order, but there are also consequences to those who break the law.

    The illegal immigrants have KNOWINGLY and INTENTIONALLY broke the US law. Did they not SIN against America and its people? And, where is ACCOUNTABILITY in these folks?

    I do some immigration work on the side, and my clients strive to do the right thing by going through the immigration process. It’s arduous, timely and costly. But, when my clients do receive a legal status they are so very grateful! Some clients do get denied legal status as well. Now, if these folks decide to stay in the US illegally then that is their prerogative, but I would have nothing to do with them.

    When Jesus was asked about tax and Caesar He responded as such:
    “. . . Render unto Caesar the things which are Caesar’s, and unto God the things that are God’s” (Matthew 22:21). Caesar represents the Secular authority, and the US government is just that.

    I’m neither for nor against the AZ law at the moment. But, the foregoing issue seems to be resolved in all of us first before we can really tackle the law at hand.

    • Matt K says:

      The problem is the proportion of response. An undocumented worker has broken a U.S. law by entering this country without paperwork. Employers break U.S. law by hiring these undocumented workers. When one is caught, they are deported–humiliated, seperated from their families, and have their lives radically upended. When the other is caught, they pay a fine but continue to enjoy the freedom of living and working where they want. This is unjust.

      The problem here is that our immigration law as it stands is outdated and ineffective. George Bush and John McCain put forward a thoughtful, fair solution back in 2006– but their more xenophobic colleagues in congress squashed that idea. It needs to be reengaged: temporary worker permits for current residents (with appropriate financial penalty), streamlined immigration processes for immigrants in waiting.

      • Steven Kim says:

        Matt, perhaps you’re right. Employers who hire illegals should be fined heavily as they do hold the “bait.” I don’t know about AZ, but here in NYC many delis owned, especially by Koreans, are routinely checked and audited to see whether they are hiring legal residents and paying the minimum wage – the penalty is stiff, financially.

        I do believe that there ought to be a new category set up for those immigrants who have strong manual skill sets that are much needed in construction, etc. Of course, just like any other category a quota is a must.

  31. Steven Kim says:

    Another thought:

    Pastor Eugene writes, “For goodness sake, do not criminalize acts of mercy and compassion.”

    I ask without any ounce of judgment here. I would imagine that if any of us in the Christian community was faced with helping an illegal immigrant, or its community for that matter in AZ most of would lend a hand.

    How do we resolve the fact that, when we do, we are “aiding and abetting” an illegal activity, namely illegal immigration?

    In the name of “grace” and “mercy” aren’t we not subverting the law of the land?

    Shouldn’t the Christian community help those who are desperate near the border help out in Mexico in cooperation with the Mexican government?

    Just some thoughts to explore.

    • Leslie Gilbertson says:

      I think there is a law that transcends what we criminalize through a legislative process. As the body of Christ I believe we are called to hospitality, generosity, and solidarity with the marginalized and exploited no matter how the law classifies these people.

      The entire economic system driven by the United States is at issue here. We have on the books many laws that we don’t enforce like small amounts of marijuana possession and sodomy laws. There are many social reasons why we don’t enforce them. There is a fluidity to law that puts people in a nebulous category before society officially recognizes something normative by codifying it in law.

      In the case of undocumented persons, we provide a financial incentive for them to come into the country, we make lots of money off of their labor, and then try to criminalize their presence? That doesn’t seem moral to me. Why doesn’t law focus on changing the incentive to come into the country in the first place? I think it’s because that’s where power is…and it’s easier to use law to criminalize the oppressed than to stand up to oppressors.

      • Steven Kim says:

        ” . . . we provide a financial incentive for them to come into the country, we make lots of money off of their labor, and then try to criminalize their presence?”

        I don’t believe the above is the legislative intent behind the Immigration Law. Rather, it’s a simple matter of supply and demand. The day laborers “supply” themselves FIRST; meaning they make themselves available to those unscrupulous employers who exploit cheap labor. And, these day laborers willingly work for them.

        Insofar as “incentives” to come into the US legally, there are already myriad categories that incentivize immigrants to seek legal residence here.

        From my understanding, the AZ situation as gotten so out of hand that illegal immigration impedes and endangers many AZ citizens. So, what about their rights?

        Again, I’m striving for a continual constructive discussion here.

        • Andy M says:

          “illegal immigration impedes and endangers many AZ citizens.”

          But is that true? With drug cartel people, yes. But with day laborers? Those are people who are just looking for work to feed their families, many of whom are back in Mexico, where the worker wasn’t able to find work. Those are not the kinds of people who endanger our citizens, at least not any more so than our own citizens.

          Yes, there are incentives to coming here legally. But when you can’t afford, or do not have the education needed to go through the legal immigration process, then you take the incentive of finding work in AZ when you can’t find it back home, just so that you can survive.

          • Steven Kim says:

            How can you tell from day laborers and the members of these violent gang members?

            Anyway, these day laborers take jobs at a rate below the minimum wage. The unscrupulous employers exploit them, and these illegal immigrants take legitimate jobs away from legal residents who would otherwise be required to be paid a minimum wage. Further, many send part of the earned wages back to Mexico while NOT PAYING ANY TAXES HERE!

            So, yes these illegal immigrants endanger and impede the welfares are rights of AZ citizens in myriad of ways.

            Again, I ask you: what about the AZ citizen’s rights?

            And, your last paragraph is not something I would teach my children, and certainly not Christian way of doing things. In a nutshell, you are advocating this: If I can’t afford something, or am not qualified then I should just ignore all laws, civility and respect for others so that I could meet my needs (?) – that’s called LAWLESSNESS.

            • Andy M says:

              I’m not saying that it is right, I’m saying that it is how it is. You misunderstand me if you think I’m advocating breaking laws.

              In a situation if my family was living in poverty, struggling to keep shelter and get food, and I cannot find work, but there is a place that I can go to where I know I could find work, then send money to my family. If I could not do it legally, then I would do it illegally, and I would guess that you would too rather than starve to death with your family.

              Feeding your family is a good reason to break some law that at the very least does not directly hurt anyone, and definately doesn’t hurt anyone enough, even indirectly, that it would deter me from doing whatever I can to provide for my family.

              I cannot blame those people for doing that. That is survival. If they were dealing drugs, doing violent crimes or stealing from people, then that would be different, but them crossing the border illegally so they can feed their children is understandable because they have no other options.

              In my opinion, it isn’t our place to condemn them for trying to provide for their families, it is our place to fix the system which gives them no other options.

              • tim says:

                Why are they in poverty????? That’s the problem none of you ever ask? Mexico isn’t a poor nation there is a lot of wealth there but it’s controlled by the elite class.

              • Steven Kim says:

                Andy, desperate people do desperate things. However, I don’t buy your rationale and justification.

                Mexican government and its people need to take care of their poor. Mexican President needs to address its borders and, more importantly, the desperate Mexican citizens risking their lives to illegally cross the US borders.

              • Andy M says:

                True, the Mexican government does need to take care of it’s own problems. But that doesn’t mean that we should treat desperate people like criminals just because their government, or their nation’s more wealthy people, aren’t helping their situation.

                Tim, I do ask why they are in poverty, but the problem with me asking is, what difference could I make? I have little enough influence over my own government and/or elite class, I definately don’t have influence in a another country. In this context the biggest questions on the table are on the side of what we can do as Americans, and what our government is, can, and should be doing.

        • Matt K says:

          Immigration has been a boon to the American economy and to the economy of the Southwest in particular. We should shudder to think what the economy would look like without immigration.

          • Brian says:

            Not to mention that we are largely a nation of immigrants – esp. to the native peoples that were hear before everyone else’s arrival. Matt K, your point about responsibility is well said. What has largely gone un-stated in this dialogue at large is the fact that nationalized or “already Amercians” are part of the “problem” of the way immigration happens here. To continue to deport immigrants is a very one-sided response where culpability also resides in the emigrant nation. This includes the layered and deep manner with which capitalism is connected, and our further responsibility in regards to this system. There is a resident sin and brokenness in capitalism and the way it treats immigrants and brown/black minorities in general.

          • Steven Kim says:

            I think we are talking about ILLEGAL immigration here.

            • Brian says:

              Steven, I don’t think my point would discriminate over the legality of an immigrants presence in the U.S. I would argue of it’s truth regardless of their status: our system, ethics, behavior’s, etc. are also contributory. We scapegoat the immigrant, illegal or not, otherwise. I further would further think we would be remiss as to be so naive that the ancestors of those who have come before us were all “legal” right away. There is very likely some who were not legal, perhaps for a great length of time. That doesn’t justify any current situation, but it should give us pause nonetheless: it is part of our history, our social location, our national narratives.

              • Steven Kim says:

                Brian, there’s nothing to refute that America is a nation of immigrants, legal or otherwise. However, we cannot and should not put today’s facts to yesterday’s circumstances.

                Society evolves, and so does law. Common law system in our country is a fine example of that. And, when these common laws become applicable to the nation at large, they are codified into statutes.

                Today’s issues are incredibly complex made more difficult by the politicians.

              • Brian says:

                This is a reply to your comment just below Steven; for some reason it wont’ allow me to . I’m in agreement with you re:yesterday/today circumstances and law, etc. However, those issues are couched and secondary to and within the context of my former comment: we are also responsible. Our political system, capitalism, national identity, and culture all contribute to the issue at dialogue. The system of law you mentioned – as a system, not as it as the system is enforced (although that is included by proxy) – also has a role, as does an economy based on competition, innovation, promise of success, etc. This system may bring prosperity to some,but the promise also oppresses others in the margin. The complexity issues via politicians is only one part of our responsibility that many are scapegoating on immigrants, illegal or not. It is inaccurate to say that “we have laws and ‘they’ break them – it’s there fault”, washing our hands of the matter. Indeed, the issue is more complex!

  32. Melanie says:

    I live in AZ and I’m fine.
    Crime is crime..white,black,brown,legal,illegal.
    The hometown MKE where I am from had a higher crime rate than PHX in 2009.
    Now the drug war that is happening along the border,which from what I understand isnt even mostly happening on the AZ border is bad.
    Interesting NY Times article today.

    • Steven Kim says:


      Thanks for the article. I’m all for gun control, especially assault weapons! On a side note, Mexico’s own immigration policy against illegal immigrants from Central America is abhorable and hypocritical. Such gall.

      • Jason says:

        What part of their policy is so terrible and hypocritical? Because they produce illegal emigrants they shouldn’t try to control the immigrants to their country? Don’t all the arguments for jobs for legals and “Sinful” illegal immigrants still apply in Mexico?

        As a US citizen knowingly working illegally in another country, I guess I and others like me make all US immigration law as well as your suggestions abhorable and hypocritical as well. There, now we can get rid of all immigration laws! 🙂

        • Steven Kim says:

          Read Solomon’s reply below.

          • Jason says:

            read it. reasonable and based on something i have heard before. not at all related to your attempt to say that Mexico having immigration laws against central america making it hypocritical (which i inferred from your post was based on the fact they produce lots of illegal immigrants in america). I’m still an American citizen purporting to be a Christian working illegally in another country. Let’s get personal, am I living in sin?

            • Steven Kim says:

              I was referring to the Mexican President’s comments made on his recent visit to the US, just to be clear.

              So, you’re an illegal in another country (?) Only, you can really answer your own question as to whether you’re “sinning” against that country and its people.

              I need more facts to make a call! 🙂

  33. Tim says:

    Did I miss the blog post about Mexican immigration and xenophobia? It always just seems that America is at fault for everything. Where is the outrage and call for justice supported by bible verses for the way different countries treat and abuse their own people. Mexico has money and great natural resources they are just corrupt.

    If you have a problem with AZ you should have a problem with Mexico as THEIR LAWS ARE STIFFER THAN OURS about immigration laws.
    1. You can’t interfere with politics.
    2. Being illegal is a felony
    3. You can’t have a criminal record
    4. You must be able to contribute to society

    CNN: Blitzer Tried His Best to Hide Mexico’s Calderon Hypocrisy

    Mexico Is Rich

    I would love a response from Eugene as I only seem to see the original post and the discussion left to the folks to wrestle through the question.

  34. solomon says:

    i’m not responding to this blog so much as i’m responding to the mexican president who had condemned this arizona law.


    because our citizens who go to their country to help with mission work like education, medicine, etc. get pulled over (with regularity) without any just cause to be extorted by their own cops (i’ve witnessed this personally).

    if we didn’t have OUR papers in order when crossing into mexico we would be arrested and detained by mexican cops.

    for that president to say anything about the arizona law is way out of his place. what’s worse is that president obama, regardless of his stance on the law, should have told him to have his own house in order before coming into ours too criticize.

    for my own two cents, Christian intervention against the laws of the land should be based on conscience that is Biblical. being citizens of the USA there are a few ways to express this.

    1. vote your conscience
    2. protest
    3. civil disobedience

    if you are so convicted against it then one should at least be consistent in how they act.

    at the end of the day, there is no clear cut way to navigate between the Christian’s dual citizenship in the kingdom of God and the kingdoms of this world outside of the guidance of Scripture… wherever your best light guide you.

    • Andy M says:

      I’m not saying that I disagree with you, but Barack Obama isn’t likely to make a huge criticism of the leader of another country, especially one in which we have a strong interest in improving the overall relationship and situation with. What would making this criticism do, other than severe an already problematic relationship between the two nations?

      Unfortunately, that is the nature of politics, you must ignore some things that are hypocritical or wrong, in order to keep or make peace. If he was to make sure to criticize the wrongs done by every world leader before they come visit the U.S., they would not come to visit, and we would have no allies.

      I’m not saying I like it, but that is how it works.

  35. e.c. says:

    your blog is always filled with interesting comments/discussion/debates. sometimes i feel like i think more outside the box from reading the comments than i do in class…that bad? hahaha.

  36. tim says:

    If you have a problem with the AZ law then you must have a problem with Mexico’s. “Yet I don’t nor have I seen and outrage or Bible verses” I know we keep talking about the US dealing with illegals but does anyone here have a problem with Mexico’s immigration policies? Anyone????

    • Dadofiandi says:

      I have a lot of problems with other countries laws, but I don’t live there and I don’t see or hear of many people crossing the border into Mexico except for those fleeing the law here.If the job market and pay were inversed between here and Mexico you better believe there would be people crossing the border into Mexico and we would be decrying any similar laws.
      Reform of immigration needs to take place.
      This law will be enforced July 29th (although Sherrif Joe is already profiling) and we will all see the ramifications. Perhaps a program similar to the Bracero program will happen again. Maybe the stream of drugs will dry up and cartels will give up and maybe unemployment rates will drop.
      The whole legal ILLEGAL is getting me sick as well. How many of you do rolling stops? How many of you feel so wracked by guilt that you send a check to the Police for your transgressions? You know you are breaking the law and you still do it. Do you rationalize everybody does it and never gets ticketed, or if I don’t do a rolling stop its going to take up to 7yrs to cross the road and your wife and kids behind you make take another 9yrs? Or is that you are breaking the law if you get caught?
      Mexico is rich so, the US is rich do we have poverty? Are there people who are homeless, whose jobs have been moved to Mexico or other parts and are unemployed? NAFTA and farm subsidies have put out of work a lot of local farmers in Mexico and other parts of the world. Immigration is just a symptom of a larger problem.

      I wonder if there will be an American only heaven

      • tim says:

        Well if you looked into this at all before being against something you would know about the abuse Mexico has been enforcing along it’s southern border. What problems do you have with Mexican immigration laws?
        Comparing illegal immigration to rolling stops is just stupid. Sorry but really??? 70% of AZ residents support this law “that is the same as our federal law that’s not being enforced” are they all a bunch of white racists?
        I love this answer. Mexico is rich … so. So they have a responsibility to their own people. There is injustice. If you want to stand up for something there you go. Stand up against these governments that oppress their own people so much so that they will risk their lives to try to sneak into America. You have to look at the bigger picture.

        I live in a very poor part of my city and let me just say when you live in a culture where crime is high you can tell who is up to no good without looking at their color. What about all the jobs that illegals take from americans as well as suppressing wages. Do you know how many people who live in poverty in the US that could use those jobs?

        • Dadofiandi says:

          Well I live in AZ and am against the law and think it needs to be reformed. Yes there is a bunch of racism in this state brought out by fear.
          My pt about Mexico being rich is that we are a rich nation as well but we have people dying who can’t afford health care, are homeless, etc while a few hold a majority of the wealth. Reform needs to take place to see how our policies affect other countries as well as stop the reasons for people to want to immigrate here.
          Regarding your last point, if you live in a poor area I am guess poor people are committing those crimes, are a majority of them doing it or only a few?
          If companies are hiring illegal workers then they need to be held liable or criminally prosecuted, but they aren’t. I guess we will see if there is a rush to the fields and hospitality industries once illegal immigrants are deported.
          “Do you know how many people who live in poverty in the US that could use those jobs?” Its not the illegal immigrants fault they are being hired it’s the employers fault. Just like if someone says they will work your job for half the pay and you get canned.

          • Tim says:

            So the 70% of people that support are racist because of fear. Or are they just fearful of the crime?
            This country has alway provided medical care for anyone wether they can afford it or not. Illegals know this so medical and other social resources such as schools that are paid for by legal residents and immigrants that pay for their own bills as well as the bills of those whom get their care for free. Your people dying on the streets thing doesn’t hold water. For the most part there are good reasons why people are homeless sometimes there are bad reasons. If a person wants to get back on their feet there are people all over the country who have ministries and assistance to help them do just that. Can we just agree that SOMETIMES people just don’t want to do anything to improve their circumstances.
            As far as jobs it’s a lot of peoples fault!!! you can’t just look at these problems like the illegal immigrant is always innocent and not a criminal. If like any population where 20% tend to be bad and there are 20 million illegals here and 20% of them are bad people then you can just ignore that. How many criminals does that put into the system? What about all the legal citizens that have been victims of rape and murder as well as other crimes at the hands of SOME illegals that if not here they would not have experienced. Is that fair for them that some people who shouldn’t have been here in the first place destroyed their quality of life?

            • Dadofiandi says:

              I did not say the 70% are racists, I said there is a lot of racism here and its brought out by fear. Crime ubstantiated
              Jobs- Jobs here were lost due to the housing bust, not just people losing their homes but new construction drying up.
              Illegal immigrants aren’t causing this to happen.
              Do you know how many people who live in poverty in the US that could use those jobs?
              Can we just agree that SOMETIMES people just don’t want to do anything to improve their circumstances. Using your post to answer your question. From

              This country has alway provided medical care for anyone wether they can afford it or not. Illegals know this so medical and other social resources such as schools that are paid for by legal residents and immigrants that pay for their own bills as well as the bills of those whom get their care for free. – We are all afforded the protection of the Constitution citizen or non. Even if a person who is an illegal immigrant gets medical treatment, odds are even if they were legal citizens they would not earn enough to pay taxes so their care would be paid for. But in your world view they should be denied care (these are ER visits by the way) and their children should remain uneducated (although its unconstitutional). Some illegal immigrants due pay SS taxes (look it up) and additionally pay state and city tax just by living here. Support local businesses as well, they don’t send every dime they own accross the border.

              What about all the legal citizens that have been victims of rape and murder as well as other crimes at the hands of SOME illegals that if not here they would not have experienced. – Would they not be here or wouldnt criminals not care about the legality of the law?
              Are all illegal immigrants angels of course not but they aren’t all criminals, rapists and murderers.
              Just something about NAFTA

              • Tim says:

                1. Yes there is a bunch of racism in this state brought out by fear. % of how much of this is based on race?
                2. But in your world view they should be denied care (these are ER visits by the way) and their children should remain uneducated (although its unconstitutional). I never said deny care to anyone I just want you to admit that it is a burden to legal resident who have to pay for their own coverage as well as 20 million others. Is that fair?
                When you take something that doesn’t belong to you that’s stealing. It’s in the Bible. But if you can rationalize theft then I guess it’s ok.
                3. Great an article that says crime is down instead of admitting that there are innocent victims that have had their live destroyed by folks whom never should have been here. I never said they were all , rapists and murderers. but what if 10% are then what? What’s 10% of 20 million?
                4. I love how your fact check is about immigrants and not illegal immigrants.

                All I am trying to say is you can’t choose to ignore all the bad things that are a major part of the problem because you feel compassionate for someone.
                Are you for human trafficking? I would guess not. But can we admit that people are smuggling people for sexual exploitation and the drug cartels are out of control and pouring into our southern border? That innocent people are being killed. What about the rights of the innocent LEGAL people in this country? And what about Mexico? Every time I ask about the injustice going on there people seem to ignore the question and look to why we are to blame for everything.

  37. Dadofiandi says:

    A nice visual for how legal immigration works and more or less the time frames for how long it takes.

  38. Tim says:

    The sad thing about this whole argument is this wasn’t posted trying to really look at this issue from a biblical view point. It’s not about how we respectfully solve the problem of illegal immigration by discussing the issue in order to expose ALL the problems and offer a rational first step in redeeming the problem. It is promoting lawlessness in the name of compassion with a few bible verses thrown in to support flawed reasoning. It gets everybody in a frenzy and the person that posted the blog goes on their way as people like us duke it out. It doesn’t take any courage to post a bomb like this and walk away but it does take courage to be a part of finding a solution. Blessed are the peacemakers.

    • Eugene Cho says:

      Hey Tim,

      I don’t want to get you or others in a frenzy and cause you to stumble so I’ll ask politely for you to stop reading and commenting.

      You’re doing beautiful and courageous things in Atlanta.

      God bless you.

    • danderson says:

      Amen and blessings to you. It’s a lot easier talk the talk then walk the walk.

  39. Dadofiandi says:

    1.)I don’t think there is a survey to ask if people see them as racists, and a majority of people would probably say they aren’t. However this bill and the subsequent bills outlawing ethic studies and not allowing teachers with a heavy accent to teach English and their support suggest otherwise.
    2. Yes it is a burden but I think the benefits outweigh the cost. Sorry I don’t see it as stealing.
    3.)10% of 20million is 2million, there weren’t 2million rapes and murders combined in the US last year. Regardless, and not this makes it better but, how much was it illegal on illegal? Even the rancher’s family of the man who was shot recently didn’t blame illegal immigrants. We might as well outlaw alcohol and guns (which I am for btw the gun part) and we would see less people die senselessly.

    4.)The fact check doesn’t categorizes both legal and illegal as immigrants “But whether they’re legal, as in the CFAW ad, or illegal, as in our two other examples, really doesn’t matter for the purpose of answering our question: The truth is that immigrants don’t “take American jobs,” according to most economists and others who have studied the issue.”

    I am for reform and addressing the issues on why people are crossing the border. Human smuggling and drugs are terrible things but if the demand for them stops so to will the trades. Easy answer hard solution. Drug cartels won’t be stopped or deterred by SB1070, may be more militarized.

    I would be interested in Mexican immigration and the abuses if you could provide the links,etc.

  40. Steven Kim says:

    The bottom line for me is that US border security should be priority #1. The US spend billions securing other countries around the world, but our own borders are porous at best.

    Immigration reform in the most comprehensive sense of the word should follow next.

  41. Steven Kim says:

    By Bob Deffinbaugh

    “In many ways, Peter is teaching the same things Paul teaches elsewhere (see Romans 13:1-7; Titus 3:1-2). There are some unique areas of emphasis we would do well to focus on in concluding our study. To begin, I call to your attention some significant things Peter does not say in this passage.

    (1) Peter gives us no exceptions concerning submission to authority. Peter mentions no exceptions or instances in which one might be required not to submit to civil authorities. Amazingly, while Paul could claim that he never violated a Roman or Jewish law (Acts 25:8), Peter is the one who broke the law. Twice he escaped from jail (Acts 5:17-21; 12:1-17), and twice he informed the Jewish ruling body, the Sanhedrin, that he and the apostles could not obey their commands:

    18 And when they had summoned them, they commanded them not to speak or teach at all in the name of Jesus. 19 But Peter and John answered and said to them, “Whether it is right in the sight of God to give heed to you rather than to God, you be the judge; 20 for we cannot stop speaking what we have seen and heard” (Acts 4:18-20).

    27 And when they had brought them, they stood them before the Council. And the high priest questioned them, 28 saying, “We gave you strict orders not to continue teaching in this name, and behold, you have filled Jerusalem with your teaching, and intend to bring this man’s blood upon us.” 29 But Peter and the apostles answered and said, “We must obey God rather than men” (Acts 5:27-29).

    How then do we square Peter’s practice with his teaching? We must first recognize that these two “escapes” were not made by overpowering the guards or sawing through the prison bars with a concealed file. In both instances, an angel released Peter (and John), and in the second incident through most of the escape, Peter thought he was dreaming. In addition, the angel who set Peter and John free gave them a specific command about where they were to go and what they were to do. To obey the command of the Sanhedrin would require Peter and John to disobey the angel and God who spoke through the angel. Peter saw that his choice was one of obeying God or men, and there was little doubt as to whom he would obey.

    Having said this, it should also be suggested that even when we are forced to disobey a governmental authority, we should not cease to be in submission to them. While this sounds strange, it is important. When Daniel and his three friends disobeyed in Babylon, they still treated their governing authorities with respect. Their disobedience was not general but specific. They refused to obey only that law or command which would have forced them to disobey God. The same can be said of Peter and John. The only examples we have in Scripture of civil disobedience are those where obedience to God is directly forbidden by a human command.

    Some of the civil disobedience practiced in our country and defended by citing the precedent of Daniel and Peter misses this point badly. The assumption seems to be that a Christian can disobey any law with which he or she disagrees. The Bible speaks of the disobedience of those laws and commands which directly contradict God’s commands or laws. Cruelty, and even unjust suffering at the hand of civil authorities, are not cited as a legitimate basis for civil disobedience by Christians. Today Christians who are (rightly) distressed over laws which permit (not command) others (not us) to do wrong (abortion) feel justified to selectively violate other laws. This goes beyond any biblical example of legitimate civil disobedience. It also makes the blowing up of abortion clinics or the murder of abortionists a more extreme disobedience of the same kind. The difference between the civil disobedience of some anti-abortion protesters and others who would kill or injure abortionists appears to many to be just a matter of degree and not of kind.

    In our text, Peter gives no reasons for civil disobedience, not because there are none, but because he does not want the exception to become the rule. Jesus did not wish to engage in dialogue over the various legitimate reasons for divorce because even the most legalistic Pharisees of His day were too lax on this matter. He did not want the exception to overshadow the rule (see Matthew 19:3-12).

    One more point should be made about civil disobedience. It is not civil disobedience to expect and even require that government officials abide by the laws they are appointed to uphold. At His arrest and during the trial which resulted in His death, our Lord pointed out that these men were acting outside the boundaries of the law they were appointed to uphold (Luke 22:49-53; John 18:19-24). Paul refused to allow the Roman officials to quietly release him after they had broken the law by illegally beating him (Acts 16:35-4). Those who are appointed to uphold the law must also abide by it. Christian submission to civil authorities does not necessarily prevent us from requiring authorities to act lawfully.

    (2) No qualifications are made as to the kind of government to which we are to submit. We would most certainly prefer to submit to a democratic government, but Peter gives no qualifications of this kind. Whether the government be totalitarian or democratic, the Christian’s obligation to submit to it is the same.

    (3) Peter does not make the performance of government officials the basis for whether we submit to civil authorities. Peter makes it clear that government’s responsibility is to punish those who do evil and to praise those who do good. He does not tell us that we must submit only to those who, in our opinion, are performing well at their task. Peter tells us what God expects of governing authorities, not as a standard for what we should expect or demand, but as the basis for our respect. We are to respect civil authorities because of the dignity of the task God has given them, not because of their success at carrying out these duties. How often Christians excuse their disobedience because their superiors do not meet their expectations. These authorities (including elders, see Hebrews 13:17), will give account to God for their faithfulness in carrying out their task. We will give account for our obedience to God’s command to submit to them, whether they are worthy of it or not.

    Having considered what Peter does not say on submission, let us move on to what he emphatically says.

    (1) Peter’s teaching provides a different perspective of government. Christians today are becoming more and more suspicious of government as it seems to encroach on our religious freedoms. When Christians (or conservatives) are dominant in government, Christians breathe easily, but when “liberals” or “secular humanists” take control, we suddenly look at government differently. Let us remember that the government of Peter’s day was Rome, and the emperor at the end of Peter’s life was Nero. And yet Peter speaks of government not as our persecutor but as our protector. He speaks not of civil disobedience but of submission. He does not speak of government as our accuser but as the instrument through which false accusations are silenced. Let us look at government and respond to it as God has intended it to be, not as we fear it will be.

    We should remember that while the Roman government played a crucial role in the execution of our Lord, it was also the Roman government which protected Paul and the preaching of the gospel. The decision of Gallio in Acts 18 resulted in the protection of Paul throughout his missionary journeys. Sometimes Paul preached the gospel while in chains and often at the side of a Roman soldier, but Roman authorities protected Paul from the wrath of Jewish and Gentile unbelievers.

    (2) Peter’s teaching concerning submission to civil authority is based upon the very crucial premise of the sovereignty of God. Government is divinely ordained and exists only by the will of God. Its authority comes from God (see John 19:10-11). It achieves God’s purposes even when it fails to carry out its divinely given task. When God allows government to persecute Christians for well-doing rather than to praise them, even then His purposes are being accomplished. This was the early church’s comfort which must also be ours.

    23 And when they had been released, they went to their own [companions,] and reported all that the chief priests and the elders had said to them. 24 And when they heard [this,] they lifted their voices to God with one accord and said, “O Lord, it is Thou who DIDST MAKE THE HEAVEN AND THE EARTH AND THE SEA, AND ALL THAT IS IN THEM, 25 who by the Holy Spirit, [through] the mouth of our father David Thy servant, didst say, ‘WHY DID THE GENTILES RAGE, AND THE PEOPLES DEVISE FUTILE THINGS? 26 THE KINGS OF THE EARTH TOOK THEIR STAND, AND THE RULERS WERE GATHERED TOGETHER AGAINST THE LORD, AND AGAINST HIS CHRIST.’ 27 “For truly in this city there were gathered together against Thy holy servant Jesus, whom Thou didst anoint, both Herod and Pontius Pilate, along with the Gentiles and the peoples of Israel, 28 to do whatever Thy hand and Thy purpose predestined to occur” (Acts 4:23-28).

    When the governing authorities incarcerated Peter in a way that would have hindered the accomplishment of God’s predetermined plan, an angel of the Lord arranged for Peter’s escape. And when Herod sought to kill Peter, the church did not arrange protest marches; they prayed. The result was that Herod was put to death not by the hands of an angry mob but by the hand of God—and not because anyone protested against him, but because men praised him as god (see Acts 12).

    (3) Peter’s teaching provides a different basis for submission. Peter instructs the saints to submit to governing authorities not because they are always right, or fair, or because doing so will always keep us from persecution. We are to obey for the Lord’s sake, in obedience to Him, and for His glory. Praise for well-doing may or may not come from earthly rulers, but it will come from God at the return of our Lord.

    (4) Peter greatly expands our concept and practice of submission. The best any government can expect from its unbelieving citizens is obedience. Often that obedience is given only when under the scrutiny of those who enforce the laws. That is why people speed until their radar detector tells them to obey the law. Christian submission does not fall short of secular submission; it far surpasses it. The Christian is to obey civil authorities, whether they are looking or not. Beyond this, we are to give honor to civil authorities even when their performance does not seem to deserve it. We honor them for their position as given by God.

    I must confess that I have fallen far short of Peter’s instructions in my own life. I have always had nicknames for people, particularly people in authority. I cannot give you an illustration of this without violating Peter’s command to give honor to those in authority. But one thing I know, God requires me to show honor to those in authority whether I voted for them or not.

    May God grant us the ability to obey these instructions both in spirit and in truth, to the glory of God and for our ultimate good.”

    • Andy M says:

      Not to be rude, but is there a point to your quoting this very long essay here? Am I having a discussion with Bob or Steven Kim?

      Ok, so what exactly is this supposed to tell me? The main argument here is whether the AZ law is acceptable or not, and other immigration issues. The question of whether we should, and how much we should, submit to current laws is an issue out of context for the majority of the comments and conversations here. So, really all you needed to do was to provide a link like you did above and leave it at that.

      Ok, I did make the statement that I have no biblical reason to adhere to laws that are unjust, and your little essay here hasn’t changed that opinion of mine.

      I believe that I have proper perspective with regards to our government. I give it the respect it deserves because of the law and order that it provides in this country, which is the purpose of God setting any government in place. But my higher allegiance is to God and the Church.

      As an American, I am expected to love our land, our people, and hate our enemies. As an American I am expected to have certain national values, or else I am un-American. This is no different than any other nation in the world, current or historical. But God’s commands surpass that and tell me that regardless of a person’s nationality, culture, values, etc. I am to love them and care for them in their need. Currently in AZ, that has been made illegal, or at least in question. So my allegiance is with God.

      Yes, the Romans crucified Jesus, yes, Roman law protected Paul. But, Paul was a Roman citizen, unlike most of the earliest Christians which put him in a significant and fairly rare role, unlike Peter who was not a Roman citizen. What happened with Paul was not something where you can point to it in order to confirm that we need to submit to government. He simply used his accepted social status as a Roman citizen to spread his own influence further than what most Christians at the time would have been able to do. He took advantage of a bad situation. Many Christians in the early church would not have had the same protection.

      Most, if not all, of the Apostles were martyred. You don’t get martyred by submitting to the government. Many Christians were, and are, martyred because they broke laws. I guess you could say they submitted by not revolting and not causing rebellion. But they were submitting to the government’s ability to kill them, which means that they still broke some law to get in trouble in the first place.

      In summary, I respect our government’s place in my life. I will abide by its laws. I will abide by many stupid laws that should be changed. I will even abide by many laws that I disagree with. But where it’s laws are not just stupid, but harmful to people, particularly the poor, I will find some way to change them, or work against it, if not legally, then illegally. If a law makes it illegal to give shelter or food to an illegal immigrant, then I will try to change the law, and if that fails, then I will do it anyways because it is God’s command to care for the poor that I care about.

      Not that saying all this makes much of a difference, because I’m not usually put in situations where I am breaking a law in order to help someone.

      I also see a difference between respecting a person who has government authority, and respecting a law. I see reason to respect all people, and it is always a good idea to respect the people who have the authority to arrest you or not. But to respect a law is much different, because a law is not a person that I am judging, it is a law that may be unjust, and laws change be changed. We have the ability, and in the U.S. the obligation, to voice our opinions about our laws, for or against. That is the basis on which our country was founded, individuals being able to voice their opinions and to propose new laws or changes to old laws. Being critical of our laws is a Constitutional right of every U.S. Citizen and is perfectly within the boundaries given by scripture in “submitting” to government.

      If I haven’t made it obvious, I will here. The breaking of any laws should be a last resort. It should also be justified with a strong moral and societal backing. Most unjust laws, in this country at least, are opposed by a large enough number of people that you won’t have to break a law in order to make some difference. If you find that you are alone, then you should check your own references.

      I apologize, for this ended up way too long, and is probably unnecessary.

  42. […] United States. And in a society where Diversity is the New Normal and an increase in tension with Immigration and Xenophobia issues, it’s that much more important for people to know about Vincent […]

  43. […] heretic, and religious legalist; the other person on the fence on that hot theological issue; the other liberal or conservatives; that feminist or ultimate fighting Jesus lover, and on and […]

  44. At least the squirrrels have state sponsored protection. The following is from the associated press:

    * Arizona showed a soft side recently, implementing a $1.25 million federal grant that it believes will save the lives of at least five squirrels a year. The state’s 250 endangered Mount Graham red squirrels risk becoming roadkill on Route 366 near Pima, and the state is building a rope bridge for them to add to several existing tunnels. [ABC News, 6-17-10]

  45. […] have my thoughts and views and I’ve shared some of them like my thoughts on Glenn Beck, or Arizona, Immigration, and Xenophobia, and while I’ve received my share of disagreements and criticism, I’ve appreciated the […]

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One Day’s Wages

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Grateful. Still reflecting on the letters that I've received from classmates and students that have come before me and after me. Never imagined all that God would have in store for me. Lots of humbling things but in the midst of them, there were literally thousands upon thousands of daily decisions and choices to be faithful. That's what matters. Seen or unseen. Noticed or unnoticed. You do your best and sometimes you stumble and fumble along but nevertheless, seeking to be faithful.

Also, you know you're getting old when your school honors you with a Distinguished Alumni Award. Lol. 47 is the new 27. Or something like that. Here's to the next 47. In our culture, we can be so obsessed with the "spectacular" or "glamorous." The Church often engagws in thia language and paradigm...but what if God has called many of us to small, ordinary things?

Will we still be faithful?
Will we still go about such things with great love and joy?

I recently came across this picture taken by @mattylew, one of our church staff...and I started tearing up: This is my mother; in her 70s; with realities of some disabilities that make it difficult for her to stand up and sit down...but here she is on her knees and prostate in prayer. She doesn't have any social media accounts, barely knows how to use her smartphone, doesn't have a platform, hasn't written a book, doesn't have any titles in our church, isn't listed as a leader or an expert or a consultant or a guru. But she simply seeks to do her best - by God's grace - to be faithful to God. She prays for hours every day inteceding for our family, our church, and the larger world.

Even if we're not noticed or celebrated or elevated...let's be faithful. Our greatest calling as followers of Christ is to be faithful. Not spectacular. Not glamorous. Not popular. Not relevant. And not even successful in the eyes of the world.

Be faithful. Amen. #notetoself (and maybe helpful for someone else)

At times, we have to say ‘NO’ to good things to say ‘YES’ to the most important things.

We can't do it all.
Pray and choose wisely.
Then invest deeply. May our compassion not just be limited to the West or to those that look like us. Lifting up the people of Iraq, Iran, and Kurdistan in prayer after the 7.3 earthquake - including the many new friends I met on a recent trip to Iraq.

The death toll rises to over 400 and over 7,000 injured in multiple cities and hundreds of villages along the Western border with Iraq.

Lord, in your mercy... We are reminded again and again...that we are Resurrection People living in a Dark Friday world.

It's been a tough, emotional, and painful week - especially as we lament the horrible tragedy of the church shootings at Sutherland Springs. In the midst of this lament, I've been carried by the hope, beauty, and promise of our baptisms last Sunday and the raw and honest testimonies of God's mercy, love, and grace.

Indeed, God is not yet done. May we take heart for Christ has overcome the world. "Without genuine relationships with the poor, we rob them of their dignity and they become mere projects. And God did not intend for anyone to become our projects." Grateful this quote from my book, Overrated, is resonating with so many folks - individuals and  NGOs. / design by @preemptivelove

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