This week we will take a look at the problem that has been created by an inattentive government, for whatever reasons. It is not limited to the Democrats or Republicans, but all are guilty. This happens when laws put in place to protect the nation are ignored. Unfortunately some churches, many with the ‘best of intentions’, have themselves become law breakers. They harbor illegal immigrants although, as we have previously seen, there is no Biblical justification. We have policies in place to prevent the current situation even though now we have a momentous problem on our hands and we can no longer hide from it. What should be done about illegal immigrants who are already here?
The most difficult problem with regard to immigration is what to do with illegal immigrants who are already in the United States. It would not be right to say that all illegal immigrants are a ‘bane’ to the nation; some are good, hard-working individuals…but they are all in violation of our laws…that’s a criminal act. Any national consensus on the problem that is to be attained will probably not ever be reached until the general public is persuaded not simply that the politicians are promising to close the border, but that an effective border fence has already been built and is effectively stopping the flow of illegal immigration into the United States. The fence has been authorized at least twice in the past but never fully constructed. Once the public can feel secure within the bounds of our borders, the frustration, fear (sometimes well grounded), and the anger that the people have, feeling that their country is being overrun by people who do not truly belong here, can be replaced by a time for rational discussion to occur. Once that happens, provisions to start to solve the problem can be initiated.
A start might be to deport all known illegals who are convicted criminals and create harsh sentences for those who reenter the country. 450,000 criminals and violators for whom outstanding deportation orders currently exist…but who the government finds it impossible to apprehend…must become the focus of an aggressive effort to remove from the country. This would include known gang members and others who have committed crimes. They constitute a real danger to the well-being of society. [Michael Medved, “Immigration surprise: broad agreement, not polarization”, Townhall.com , July 19, 2006].
The remaining large number…perhaps 13 million…of illegal aliens, must let the United States government know who they are and where they are. This would allow them to come out of the shadows and have some kind of temporary status that at least begins to put them within the legal system. It would require a national law saying that if they signed up to have temporary registration, they would not be immediately deported, and proof of such temporary registration would be required before they could receive any kind of benefits. This would require that those who sign up for temporary registration would have to seek full US citizenship or else permanent resident…green card…status or have their permission to stay in the country revoked after a certain number of years. Temporary registration could be renewed if conditions or circumstances so warrant. For those who truly want to stay in the United States and also abide by the law and are contributing positively to American society, the Biblical requirements of mercy and compassion, as well as the well-being of the nation, should encourage us as a nation to want those immigrants to stay. Requirements should include the payment of a fine…an acknowledgement of broken law…, some arrangement to pay back taxes, the need to learn the English language, the need to swear allegiance to the United States above any other nation, the need to learn the values of American society and culture, show a record of employment that is continuous over time, and the need for a background check. In the meantime, those who choose to enter the country by lawful means cannot be forgotten. Any new laws must give priority to those who apply to enter legally. It will be a complicated evolution for our lawmakers to ensure fairness. This whole problem started, though, because our leaders chose to ignore their responsibilities to the nation. The churches could have had much to say from the very beginning but either chose silence or to violate the law by harboring illegal immigrants under the guise of doing ‘God’s work’, which it clearly was not.
Next week we will take a look at what churches can do to help the immigrant problem.
– Bob Munsey