A plea for pastors to engage the moral imperative of immigration reform

President Obama spoke at the Annual Hispanic Prayer Breakfast yesterday. I was surprised that he set up and addressed the issue of immigration reform and urged pastors and clergy to carry out their ministry in partnership with his power in politics. The meat of it begins at about 2:00.
“Immigration is a moral imperative, and we are seeking greater understanding from our faith. As it says in Deuteronomy…”
I love how he says that we must not develop amnesia regarding our own situation how we got to where we are. This is precisely what God commands his people in Deuteronomy 10:19 (Obama’s speechwriter actually did a fair job of interpreting the verse), but from an even deeper place. Rather than just remembering our family trees and heritage, God commands his people to care for the sojourner in their midst because they were sojourners in the land of Egypt, delivered by God from slavery and oppression. He references nothing less than the history of redemption and salvation. Care for the immigrant because God cared for you in such a way as to save you and deliver you. Care for them so you don’t forget who you are and what God has done for you.
If you’re interested in this topic and want to learn more, a couple of great resources are the Urban Entry videos produced by my friend Scott Lundine out in Denver. Vol. 4 deals with immigration, but the other videos deal with Charity and Transformation, Poverty, and Race. They are high quality, short, discussion starters for you and your group. I like them because there’s no presumption or arrogance. They just raise the questions and pose some answers. Here’s a sample from YouTube.
Here’s one by Dr. Daniel Carroll who wrote a great book on what the Bible says about immigration called, Christians at the Border.

I’d be interested to know. What are your biggest questions/struggles with the issue of immigration reform? Where do you think Christians need to stand?

2 thoughts on “A plea for pastors to engage the moral imperative of immigration reform”

  1. OK, here are my thoughts. I am not an expert in this arena, nor do I understand all the complexities of the situation. But I do understand this. Immigrants fall into two categories: legal and illegal. I don’t know of a single soul who has a problem with the legal immigrants. So, I believe this discussion is about illegal immigrants. And I am one who has issues with this. Not the people, per se, but the people who choose to be here with this status. I know our system takes time to enter, that does not justify ‘short cutting’ the system. We DO HAVE a system. Unfortunately, many people choose not to follow the system. Not following the system isn’t fair to those who do follow the system, and those who choose not to follow the system unfairly taxes those who do and our citizens. I am not a believer that it takes ‘too many’ jobs away from American workers, as most Americans would not want the jobs these people have. But the cost of illegal immigrants does cost people money, money that, in this economy, most people do not have.
    If we don’t like the system, and I have already stated that I am in this category, then I believe that reform NEEDS to happen. With reform comes the end of some of the issues we face, such as the costs. But….
    What do we do, if we implement reform, to those individuals who continue to choose to live ‘outside the system’? Those who don’t want to pay taxes, don’t want to live by our laws, and yet want to leech of our country? Sadly, I believe that no matter what reform we implement, a great deal of the problems may not go away. For those who NEED the reform, I pray for it and will back it up. I only wish we could have the perfect society… One day we will.

  2. Bro, I appreciate the thoughtfulness and candor of your reply. I used to think that way as well especially in terms of the legal and illegal angle, but what if the law is broken? If you watched the second video (about Michael), for him to even have a chance at legalized status, he would have to go back to Mexico (a place that is no more home for him than for you or I), and wait 10 years (the minimum amount of time because he was here illegally) before he can even apply for legal status (probably another 3-5 years at best). As well, there are a ton of other circumstances that our antiquated immigration system isn’t equipped to handle because it was established back in the 50s.
    Also, I wonder if you have all the facts when it comes to the cost that undocumented immigrants place on our systems. Did you know that even without a social security number that many of these immigrants pay taxes? In fact, the IRS has special ID numbers that are assigned for immigrants to pay their taxes without legal status (just one of those loopholes I suppose so that Uncle Sam can still get his money). They still pay payroll taxes, sales taxes, even real estate taxes (through rent, etc). In fact, in 2005, the Social Security Administration estimated that undocumented immigrants paid $6-7 billion into the Social Security system – of course, they are not eligible to receive any of those benefits.
    Granted, there are burdens on education and health industries, but I wonder if that’s just the state of our economy such that health costs skyrocket and education is undervalued (thus, no budgets)?
    Just some things to consider about the facts, and the point still remains – what are we to do BIBLICALLY, as kingdom citizens?

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