By Bryan Fischer
A number of high profile evangelicals - Dr. Richard Land of the Southern Baptist Convention and Mat Staver of Liberty Counsel among them - have come out in support of what Dr. Land calls “comprehensive immigration reform.”
Their support of President Obama’s plan has naturally resulted in front row seats at presidential speeches, visits to the White House, and testimony before Congress. Heady stuff.
I too am an evangelical, and have great respect and affection for Dr. Land and Mr. Staver. They are friends, acquaintances, colleagues and most of all, brothers in a shared faith.
It’s worth noting that we agree on the importance of building a double-layer security fence along our entire 2,000 mile southern border. This is consistent with the Judeo-Christian tradition that teaches us, regarding the nations, that God has “determined...the boundaries of their dwelling” (Acts 17:26). A nation without a border is no nation at all.
President Obama has said that nations “are not defined by our borders.” This is manifestly false. A definable and defensible border is precisely what defines a nation. Any third-grader looking at a globe can tell you where Mexico ends and the United States begins.
We agree that we should treat legal immigrants with compassion, in line with the time-honored precept found in the Old Testament. “You shall love him (i.e. the sojourner) as yourself” (Leviticus 19:34). I submit that America is doing a better job of embodying this precept than any nation on earth.
We naturalize a million immigrants a year, and grant legal entry to another million or so. We have the most generous, open-hearted, open-handed immigration policy on the planet.
In the last year for which figures are available, the U.S. granted citizenship to 230,000 immigrants from Mexico, more than than the next three countries of origin combined. Our borders and our hearts are hardly closed to Mexicans who are willing to play by the rules and knock on the front door rather than sneaking in through the back.
Leviticus 19:33 adds, “When a stranger sojourns with you in your land, you shall not do him wrong.” Some seem to believe that deporting lawbreakers qualifies as mistreatment.
But upholding the law is not mistreatment. We do no wrong to the shoplifter by holding him accountable for his behavior. In fact, enforcing the law is the way government shows compassion for victims of crime. Compassion is misdirected if it is targeted toward lawbreakers rather than victims.
Where is the compassion for the residents of Arizona who are forced to cope with drug smuggling, drug-related violence, human trafficking, home invasions, kidnappings, and $2.7billion in annual costs imposed on them by illegals for education, welfare, law enforcement and health care?
We are a nation of laws, not of men, a tradition rooted in both Old and New Testaments. “One law and one rule shall be for you and for the stranger who sojourns with you,” declares Moses in Numbers 15:16. Both the native and the immigrant are to be held equally accountable before the law.
As the apostle Paul says in Romans 13:1, “Let every person be subject to the governing authorities.” It’s extremely problematic from a Judeo-Christian view to guarantee citizenship to those whose first act on American soil is to break the law.
There’s no way around the fact that my evangelical friends want to reward aliens who break the law. They want to guarantee them access to a pathway to citizenship, no matter how vigorously they try to deny it. They want illegal aliens, as a matter of policy, to have the option of choosing a path that will lead to citizenship if they jump through enough hoops.
We should instead deal with the 12-20 million illegals currently in the country through attrition, by making access to any taxpayer-funded resource - whether education, welfare, or health care - contingent upon proof of legal residency.
Once illegals realize that they will be sent home the moment they come to the attention of any government agency or any branch of law enforcement, they will immediately stop being a drain on taxpayer resources and will be the most law abiding residents we have.
Rigorous use of the E-Verify system will dry up the job market for illegals, once again creating incentives for them to self-deport.
Enforcing our immigration policy need not break up families. The president sent spouses and children along when he deported the Russian spies, and we can do the same with every illegal alien. We do not want to separate husbands from wives, or children from parents, so our policy should be to repatriate entire families together to preserve family integrity.
If a member of a family has the legal right to remain in the U.S., he of course should be allowed to exercise that right. But then the family itself would be responsible for dissolving the family unit, not the United States.
The Founders were guided by a profound respect for the values and standards of the Judeo-Christian tradition. It was their guiding light then, and should be ours today.