By Bryan Fischer
Follow me on Twitter: @BryanJFischer, on Facebook at “Focal Point”
My good friend Mat Staver’s op-ed in today’s Washington Times is entitled “A Christian Approach to Immigration Reform.”
I’m happy he called his a treatment “a” Christian approach rather than “the” Christian approach, for he thus admits the possibility that there may be other approaches that can lay equal claim to being Christian in nature.
I would suggest that the approach that Mat and the Evangelical Immigration Table takes is fundamentally self-contradictory. On the one hand, they insist that any approach to immigration must “respect the rule of law,” but then immediately insist that any approach must flout that same law by “creat(ing) a pathway to earned legal status.”
Our immigration policy is quite clear that border trespassers have broken the law and are to be returned to their country of origin. To reward lawbreakers by guaranteeing them a path to citizenship that is not available to lawkeepers makes a mockery of the concept of justice and equality before the law.
No matter how hard evangelicals try to pretend that this isn’t amnesty, that’s exactly what it is. When someone gets rewarded rather than punished for breaking the law, that’s amnesty, no matter how it’s finessed by nuanced language. And they can of course talk all they want about penalties and background checks, but illegals know they’re catching a huge break here, a break denied to those waiting patiently overseas.
Those waiting in line overseas would be happy to pay the same amount of money and go through the same background checks if they could be guaranteed citizenship in the U.S. But that option is not available to them for one simple reason: they haven’t broken our immigration laws. So we teach them that lawbreakers get rewards in America that law-abiding folks don’t. What is remotely compassionate or just about that?
The scriptural standard, when it comes to the role of our legal system, is quite clear: judges are “to acquit the innocent and condemn the guilty” (Deut. 25:1). To acquit, nay reward, the guilty turns justice and the rule of law on its head.
Justice is not, in fact the opposite of compassion. It is the obverse side of the same coin. Justice is the way in which a government shows compassion for the victims of lawbreakers.
In all the evangelical rhetoric about compassion as it relates to immigration, I read virtually no discussion whatever about the enormous cost illegal aliens impose on law-abiding Americans, who lose jobs to those who have no legal right to be in this country, who are forced to foot the bill for medical services and welfare benefits paid out to those who are not entitled to them, and whose cities are wracked by the gang violence associated with the drug trade.
Hospitals all along our southern border have closed, depriving American citizens of access to local health care, because they have been overwhelmed by the cost of providing care for people who have trespassed on another country’s sovereign soil.
Where is either the Christian compassion or justice in that?
And where is the compassion toward those waiting patiently overseas, filling out the forms, paying the fees, and waiting in line while Christians in the U.S. advocate hopscotching illegal aliens right over them and granting them instant legalization? Where, I ask, is the Christian compassion in that?
We already have the most generous legal immigration system in the world, legally admitting 1.1 million immigrants to our shores every year. Equality under the law requires that everybody who wants legal status in the U.S. must play by the same rules by which everyone else plays. To do otherwise, I submit, is the exact opposite of Christian compassion for everyone who gets leapfrogged in the process. What this teaches them is that they are chumps for playing by the rules, and that the rule of law is meaningless in what is supposed to be a Christian nation.
I would suggest the following solution to our immigration challenge. First, no guaranteed pathway to citizenship. If someone wants to be a citizen of the U.S., a Christian nation will expect them to play by the same rules as everybody else. Nobody gets to cut in line by breaking the rules. When we tried that in the lunch line in elementary school, we got sent to the back of the cafeteria line. Why? Because that’s fair.
Second, build a double-layer security fence all along our southern border. Fences work. And it’s perfectly doable. If we can send a rocket to Mars, we can build a fence. We do not lack the ability, we lack only the will.
Third, use E-Verify for employment, welfare and education. Once illegals know that their status will be checked every time they seek to access taxpayer-funded resources, they’ll quickly stop being a drain on those resources.
And there will be no need to round up illegals and deport them, which no one is talking about doing anyway. They will engage in self-repatriation.
When Alabama enacted meaningful immigration reform in 2001, which required verification of legal residency in a common sense way, illegal aliens almost immediately returned home virtually en masse. School classrooms emptied out almost overnight, and hundreds of jobs opened up in meatpacking plants, jobs which were immediately snatched up by Americans hungry for work.
The Pledge describes America as a place where we celebrate “justice for all,” not just for those who obey the law. Full equality under the law works every time it’s tried. It’ll work for immigration too.
(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.)