Let mutual love continue. Do not neglect to show hospitality to strangers, for by doing that some have entertained angels without knowing it. Remember those who are in prison, as though you were in prison with them; those who are being tortured, as though you yourselves were being tortured. Hebrews 13:1-3
Almost all Americans have an immigration story. On my father’s side, his father came to America in the mid 1890’s from Germany. On my mother’s side, her family came from the Alsace-Lorraine area of Germany (or France, depending on the year you look at) in the 1840’s. My family immigration story is probably pretty typical. Unless you are Native-American, your family immigrated (or was brought) to America at some point in the last 350 years or so.
Now the United States faces an “immigration crisis” on the Mexican border. People from South and Central America, as well as Mexico, are desperately trying to get into America to escape poverty and violence in their home country. What is the response of Christians to this?
Well, not surprisingly, the Christian response may not line up well with the political response. Obviously, this is a difficult problem, one with no simple solutions. Yet, Christians must adhere to the mandates of their calling and tradition- we are to welcome the stranger and the oppressed as much as we are able.
As I said, there is not a neat answer to this, at least not one that squares with America’s political and national aims. Yet, simply putting up high barriers to people who need refuge is not the response expected of Christian charity. Are we not obligated to try to meet the needs of those oppressed and marginalized?
When our ancestors arrived in America, immigrants were not always warmly welcomed either, because they were considered a threat to jobs. My German/French ancestors did not receive the overt rejection that had accompanied the arrival of some earlier immigrants, or those who later emigrated from southern Europe or Asia. Indeed, because of the Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882, immigrants from China were legally excluded until 1943. Yes, we have a history of exclusion as well as inclusion.
So, I simply suggest that as we consider how to respond to immigrants seeking asylum in America, we need to decide what might be the Christian response versus the political response.
Yes, that is a tough one. In some future blogs, I will speculate about what we as Christians might do to respond.
Prayer: Lord, give us wisdom to determine how to treat people as you would have us do that, Amen