In light of the Supreme Court’s ruling on the Arizona immigration law and President Obama’s implementation of parts of the Dream Act, I would like to take a stab at encouraging Christians when it comes to this volatile issue.
Really, to take off the partisan political lens and provide a space of understanding. If you haven’t already, please watch the above video to gain a sense of the human consequences wrapped up around such decisions.
As the EFCA movement seriously embraces a multi-ethnic focus, we encounter complex issues. Virtually everybody concurs that there is a quandary in the United States concerning undocumented immigrants. The exact problem, however, is being passionately debated. It is an issue that can be described by one word: messy.
Take the story of Juan and Maria Alvarado (not their real names). Their patchwork life in their native Mexico consisted of working long hours at whatever jobs they could find. When their first child was born, crossing the border illegally seemed the most logical move for a better life.
After all, American companies were begging for workers. But a legal work visa took years to obtain, and the baby didn’t have years to wait for food, clothing, and shelter. The Alvarados chose to slip into California, find jobs and start anew.
Soon, friends in their new land invited them to church, where Juan and Maria met Christ. Salvation changed their worldview, and not having legal documentation bothered them. So they entered the process to become documented, legal workers.
As the process grinded on, two more children came along, and a cousin’s invitation prompted a move to the Midwest, where they found a new church family. But a routine traffic stop changed everything.
When police checked Juan’s identification card, his name matched that of a wanted felon. By the time his innocence was clarified, the Immigration and Naturalization Service had been called, and within a few days Juan was deported back to Mexico.
Maria is struggling, to say the least. The baby who inspired them to cross the border is now a teen who has traded her dreams of college for the reality of working and helping to parent her siblings.
Who’s at fault? The Alvarados, for immigrating? The companies that lured them? The two churches involved in their lives? Government bureaucrats? Whatever your position we need to hope that economic and civil law are reconciled soon.
Unlike politicians and “talking heads” on television, as Christians we don’t have the convenience of making immigration a zero sum game. We should realize that any answer applied to the Alvarados’ situation will be imprecise.
But as the body of Christ, we must provide a merciful one. Let’s pray that these recent political flurries will lead to comprehensive immigration reform so that people like the Alvarado’s do not continue fall between the cracks.
For guidance on how we can take a biblical stand, please read the official National Association of Evangelicals stance on this issue.