Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Immigration as an electoral catapult

Today is the primary election for governor in the state of California, where I reside. The front-running Democrat is strategically silent about immigration while the Republican candidates spar over who is tougher on the subject. There will be more rhetorical blood on the wall once we get past the primary. The issue has become a catapult to thrust the candidates into the spotlight.

I've posted previously about how churches might consider a response to the immigration issue in a way that doesn't simply sanctify a preferred political position, but rather engages with immigrants (both legal and illegal) with an ethic that reeks of Jesus. See my prior posts for details.

But our country does need to reform its immigration policies. Just building stronger, longer, higher, and more patrolled walls is an insufficient response. Some have suggested amnesty for undocumented workers, and the angry responses make the idea seem as outrageous as recommending euthanasia for people suffering from seasonal allergies (please be disturbed, both my liberal and conservative friends, that the suggestion of amnesty first came from former US President Ronald Reagan in the Immigration Reform and Control Act of 1986).

One thing that needs significant reform is our own nation's self-righteous attitude about the state of undocumented workers in this country (I'm not talking about heinous criminals, so settle down). We have allowed sloppy border security and closed our eyes to the practice of companies hiring illegal immigrants at poverty wages (good, capitalist practice, of course), but then screamed in protest when we suddenly became aware of the millions of people who have taken advantage of the opportunity to crawl out of poverty. We, as a nation, are culpable in this problem, and we need to own up to that. It's a shameful situation, and we Christians ought to be the first to confess the sin, and then offer leadership to our government in responding appropriately.

Neither the words "Democratic" or "Republican" are satisfactory adjectives to precede the word "Christian." And I mean it.

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