The Immigration Issue

I have been following Pres. Trump’s executive order to limit immigration and refugees closely. It is really difficult, with all the noise, to make sense of it all and to separate fact from fiction; fear from reality. I’m not sure I still understand it all. But here is what I do know. I will always err on the side of caring for the stranger. Yes, the U.S. does have the right to protect her borders and to define her own immigration laws. The U.S. is a sovereign state and can do as she pleases. But as a follower of Jesus Christ, my first allegiance is to Him. I am a citizen of the kingdom of God before I am a citizen of the U.S. When I see the hurt and horror other people live in, my faith causes me to act, to do something, to stand up for the marginalized, and to speak truth to power. For me, national security takes a back seat to following Jesus.

luisIn the Old Testament, God commanded the Israelites to look out for, care for, speak up for, and defend four categories of people: (1) The orphan. (2) The widow. (3) the immigrant. (4) The poor. (See Zechariah 7:9-10.) I think these four categories were representative of all people who are oppressed in any society. These four groups of people represent those who have little power in their society. They represent all people who live on the margins and are on the outside looking in. Jesus’ parable of the Sheep and Goats (Matthew 25:31-46) expands on the theme of taking care of the marginalized and oppressed, adding prisoners to the list. Let me repeat, for me, personally, I believe following Jesus, and obeying Him, is even more important than my personal safety. In other words, I will not allow myself to be motivated by fear. This is the main reason why I do not have a concealed carry permit, even though several people have told me I need one.

Out of all the articles I have read about the immigration issue, there are three that I think give a balance between caring for the immigrant and defending our boarders. (Click on the article titles below to read those article):

“A Letter from Phil: On the Current Refugee Situation”

“Letter to Pres. Trump on executive order on refugees”

“Dear Fellow Christians: It’s Time to Speak Up for Refugees”

Really, I think at the heart of this matter is a matter of Pres. Trump’s heart. (Please don’t misread that sentence. I know no one can judge a person’s heart but God. I’m trying to make another point that I hope becomes understandable as you continue to read.)

Pres. Trump (and I say that respectfully), ran a horribly, unethical campaign (IMHO). He verbally abused all his opponents and treated people who disagreed with him with total disdain. Through his words, and actions, and promises, he took an already divided country and drove a wedge deeper into the crevice. His candidacy (IMHO) played on people’s worst fears and deepest angers.

Immigration is just one of many examples. During the campaign he promised to ban Muslims from entering the country. He promised to deport as many illegals as possible. He called Hispanic immigrants rapists, murderers, and thieves (and then added, “I’m sure some are nice people.”) AND he promised to build a wall and make Mexico pay for it. All of his words may have been rhetoric. He may not have meant them. He may have been using them to create leverage for negotiations (like any good businessman). But he said them. And words, even rhetorical words, have meaning. Words, even rhetorical words, have consequences.

So, after saying all these things on the campaign trial, a week into office, he makes an executive order to start plans on the wall, and another executive order to “temporarily” halt immigration, and to specifically halt refugees from certain countries until we can, and I quote, “Figure out what the hell is going on.” People all across the country, and all around the world, who oppose Pres. Trump, started protesting day and night.

It seems the world has gone mad.

Then, a day later, it is pointed out that Pres. Trump’s executive order is very similar to an executive order Pres. Obama issued in 2011. Yet there were no protests when Pres. Obama did it.

Why?

The answer to that “Why” explains “what the hell is going on.”

First of all, Pres. Obama’s executive order and Pres. Trump’s executive order are not the same (click here).

But even if they were the same, the difference between the two Presidents is really a difference in integrity and trust. (For those of you who have decided you can’t read any further after that comment, Thank you for reading this far. Have a great rest of your day.)

groupPres. Obama carried himself with a certain dignity and integrity that caused most people to trust him, even if they disagreed with his policies. People knew Pres. Obama was not anti-immigration or anti-immigrant. Thus, when he temporarily halted immigration from one country, no one wondered what he would do next and no one was afraid he was going to come into their homes in the middle of the night and deport mom and dad.

But with Pres. Trump, among immigrants (both legal and illegal/undocumented), there is great fear of what Pres. Trump is going to do next. There is fear (real or perceived) that his executive order is just the beginning. There is fear that Pres. Trump is anti-immigration and anti-immigrant. These fears may be ungrounded, but they are there, primarily because of a lack of trust.

How do I know there is fear? Because I have spent time talking to immigrants (both legal and illegal/undocumented). I have immigrants in my church. I was invited to sit in on a meeting with my mayor and leaders from the Hispanic community in my city to discuss their fears. I attended a pray vigil with a hundred or so immigrants and refugees. I have heard their fears.

In my humble opinion, Pres. Trump’s biggest problem right now is that people do not trust him. People are afraid of what he is going to do next.  A leader cannot lead without trust.

And Pres. Trump has no one to blame for this lack of trust but himself. He has done very little to try to build trust among those who did not vote for him.

Before you ask, I prayed for Pres. Trump today, and I will do so again tomorrow.

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About Pastor Kevin

I am a husband, father, pastor, teacher, scuba diver, reader, bike rider...in that order.
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