I have written a few posts over the last months about immigration. The more I study this issue the more convinced I am that our policy is completely broken. Can anyone seriously doubt this conclusion?
The problem is no one has offered a solution that can gain the bipartisan support needed to solve the problem. The White House and Governor Jan Brewer of Arizona are locked in a court battle over the technical issue of whether a state can pass a law that is in “conflict” with federal law. Attorney General Eric Holder believes that when it comes to immigration policies “federal law trumps state law.” In court the White House may win this debate but the political price could be very steep. Christians, from what I can tell, are on both sides of this issue and everywhere in between. This is clearly one of those very big issues that has come along in our nation’s history that will require people to compromise in order to find a workable solution. Most are not in the business of compromise with an election coming in November.
Let’s be clear about the two political parties in this debate. The Democrats are appealing to their base and the Republicans are doing exactly the same. Polls show that 60% of Americans support the Arizona law and this issue may well become a huge issue that will energize voters this fall.
The governor of Arizona insists that this law is needed because of border violence. I am not yet persuaded that this is the case but I do not live on the border so who should I believe and why? The governor claims that several decapitated bodies have been found in the desert but medical examiners say otherwise and official crime statistics show that violent crime rates in border states have been dropping over the past decade.
So who do you believe? It seems to me that even the contested Arizona law can be read in several ways. I simply do not know how certain parts of the law will be applied by law enforcement officers in the field. I must leave to the courts the technical nature of this debate. I, for one, am not suspicious of either side. Both sides make good points and I keep listening and weighing what I hear. I think we are locked in a huge struggle thus it is appealing, and very easy, to pick a side and cling to it tenaciously.
There is only thing I am absolutely certain about in this debate. The Wall Street Journal, not known for liberal social thought in any sense of the word, recently said in an editorial that Arizona’s law is “a cry for federal help.” The paper believes that our national immigration is broken. Fixing it, however, will be the hard part. It will take Republicans and Democrats working together to make it happen and I am not sure if enough members of Congress have the courage to deal with the whole problem openly. If our leaders do not have the will to do what is right then we will not fix the problem. While politicians quarrel over legalities, pandering for money and votes, the nation has a problem and the question becomes simple: “Do we have the courage and will to fix it?”
My suggestions for people of Christian faith include the following:
1. Christians should tone down their fierceness over this issue and pray for workable solutions. This will require us to listen to a number of views and admit the complexity of this issue.
2. Christians should recognize that human lives are at stake and the witness of the church to broken and hurting people always remains imperative.
3. Christians must see that this issue has a deep moral concern to it. The church has too often looked the other way when such issues have plagued our land. In my lifetime I am reminded of the way the church failed to deal with racism and still acts as if we have no real problem. If we fail to speak with compassion and moral gravitas then we leave many hurting people to fend for themselves without a moral compass to guide them.