Saturday, July 08, 2006

Immigration from a Christian Perspective

As the immigration debate continues, I find some unusually helpful comments over at Lincoln & Liberty, where blogger Bill Cork reminds us that the Old Testament prophets speak quite clearly of the Judeo-Christian attitude to "the alien in your land."

I was born and raised to adulthood in the West San Fernando Valley of Los Angeles, as was my father before me. In the '50s-'60s, the Valley was the stereotypical American suburb. Yes, there was a Japanese girl in my Kindergarten class, a black (well, "Negro") boy in the 2nd grade, and a Chicano boy in 3rd grade. But the long-established barrio less than a mile away (my high school bordered it) was a very different world that I didn't really know about until I was in Junior High.

Immigrants really started flooding the Valley in the '70s, and we natives didn't always take too well to those "foreigners" from Vietnam, India, Iran, Pakistan, and south of the border. On the 7 mile drive from home to University beginning in the late in the '70s, the mini-malls I passed every day had signs in 7-8 languages. I didn't like it at all.

Yes, Miss McClure had taught us Emma Lazarus' poem in the 5th grade: "Give me your tired, you poor, Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free..." But times had changed.

Then I read the OT prophets, and my attitude changed.

No, we ought not hand immigrants, legal or not, everything on a silver platter. As a conservative I see our courts, politicians, bureaucrats, and lobbyists giving far too many "entitlements" to everyone from the public purse. And we keep electing representatives who will "get more for me."

The problem is not "illegal immigration." The only difference between them and my immigrant ancestors is that an immigration bureaucracy whose job it was to keep the wrong kind of people out had yet to be created.

Those who rant about "illegal immigration" need to be reminded that the poem on the Statue of Liberty is not pie-in-the-sky idealism that we can no longer afford. And Bill Cork does that very well:

The Catholic Church accepts the Scriptural exhortation that "We must obey God rather than man" (Acts 5:29). We must stand defiantly before any idol, refusing to bow down (see the book of Daniel). We honor the saints and martyrs who stood firmly against unjust and tyrannical laws.

We see that Scripture is clear on the matter of our attitude toward aliens:

Exodus 22:21"Do not mistreat an alien or oppress him, for you were aliens in Egypt.

Exodus 23:9 "Do not oppress an alien; you yourselves know how it feels to be aliens, because you were aliens in Egypt

Leviticus 19:10 Do not go over your vineyard a second time or pick up the grapes that have fallen. Leave them for the poor and the alien. I am the LORD your God.

Leviticus 19:33 "'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.

It's not a "Catholic thing," either. It's a Judeo-Christian thing. Heck, it's an American thing! It's why we're a nation worth coming to -- for we really are better. At least when we remember who we are.

Again, read it all here.