By Bryan Fischer
Follow me on Twitter: @BryanJFischer, on Facebook at “Focal Point”
A group of 140 evangelical leaders, which includes many men whom I highly respect, has issued an “evangelical statement of principles for immigration reform” that I am afraid is wrongheaded and even unbiblical at its core.
The list of signers does include socialist-leaning evangelicals like Jim Wallis, Ron Sider and Tony Campolo, which perhaps should itself have served as a warning to the rest.
The statement highlights six principles, the first five of which are non-controversial.
But the sixth and final principle advocates amnesty and rewards lawbreaking.
It reads: “Establishes a path toward legal status and/or citizenship for those who qualify and who wish to become permanent residents.”
This, mind you, is intended for those who are in this country illegally. This is obvious from the statement itself for it promises a “path toward legal status,” meaning this is for people who don’t have it now.
This marks them off from legal immigrants, for those that are here legally are, well, here legally. They are playing by the rules and no one has a legal objection to their presence.
But for evangelicals to publicly declare that we should actually reward those who have broken our immigration laws is, to say the least, a departure from biblical standards of justice.
While I’m sure proponents will contest this statement, it is in fact an amnesty proposal, for it guarantees a path to legal status for those who are here illegally and according to the law should be repatriated to their native countries.
Rather than proposing some form of punishment for breaking American law, these evangelicals are instead promising a reward. This cannot be squared with the biblical standard on which our entire system of jurisprudence is built, that judges are to “acquit the innocent and condemn the guilty” (Deuteronomy 25:1). These evangelicals want the guilty rewarded rather than punished. This turns justice and Scripture upside down.
The immigration policy under Israel’s ancient civil code was quite straightforward: everybody had to play by the same rules. “For the assembly, there shall be one statute for you and for the stranger who sojourns with you....one law and one rule shall be for you and for the stranger who sojourns with you” (Numbers 15:15-16).
These evangelical leaders, as well-intentioned as they are, are proposing a stiffer legal standard for legal residents than for illegal aliens. I have not read any of them anywhere urging that ordinary American citizens be rewarded for committing misdemeanors and felonies. They would be shocked at the suggestion.
But to be consistent, they should propose a list of crimes which Americans can commit and for which they are to be rewarded rather than punished. That at least, as utterly misguided as it might be, would represent equality under the law. But if they do not propose to reward American lawbreakers, then they themselves are violating the fundamental principle of justice that we all are to have equal standing under the law and before the bar of justice.
Illegal aliens should not be more equal under the law than American citizens, but that is exactly what our evangelical friends are proposing here.
It might be one thing if the door to legal immigration into this country was blocked and locked. But it’s not. The United States already has one of the most lenient and welcoming legal immigration policies in the world.
All this talk of amnesty and guaranteed paths to legal status is putting the lives of children at risk. The U.S. Border Patrol reports that about 70 percent of all minors who are detained for breaking our immigration laws are unaccompanied by their parents. In fact, almost 2000 unaccompanied minors a month have been apprehended in 2012 so far, compared to just over 1300 a month in 2011. The problem is getting worse by the day.
Why are parents willing to expose their children to the enormous and potential fatal risk associated with sneaking into our country? In part, it’s because they hear voices like those of our evangelical friends promising them that if they just break our laws long enough, they’ll be given a prize.
Thus, through the law of unintended consequences, our evangelical friends are endangering the lives of young children by promising them a reward for flouting the law.
CNN is now reporting that Mexican drug cartels are now operating in 1,286 American cities, up from just 50 in 2006. Again, by encouraging lax immigration policies, our evangelical friends are unwittingly encouraging this kind of behavior and endangering American families and their children in the process.
As I said, I admire these men and appreciate their heart. But as evangelicals, we must think with our heads as well as our hearts. We are to be both sober-minded and soft-hearted. This means we must evaluate the consequences of our policies for everyone, not just the objects of our supposed benevolence. By that standard, these principles of immigration reform have been tried and found wanting.
(Unless otherwise noted, the opinions expressed are the author’s and do not necessarily reflect the views of the American Family Association or American Family Radio.)