Before I close out the section on immigration with suggestions about how the church can become involved with the immigration dilemma now facing this nation, I will touch on one more immigration situation…that of a ‘guest worker’ program. Such a program allows seasonal agricultural workers to come into the country for temporary work and then exit afterwards. The difficulty…it seems almost impossible to get all such workers to abide by their agreements and return to their country of origin. Many of them simply fall beneath the radar and stay as a new group of illegal immigrants. Bottom line…a ‘guest worker’ program becomes a pipeline for illegal immigration into a nation. Germany, France, the Netherlands, and Scandinavia can attest to that. Many are residing in alienated economic and cultural enclaves, resentful of and resented by their unwelcoming host citizenry [Peter Salins, “The ‘Guest-Worker’ Folly”, Wall Street Journal, June 6, 2007, A19]. Is such a program really needed for American businesses? The economic system of supply and demand should provide enough labor for agricultural work and should do so at a fair wage for people in the United States. There are millions of fully legal recent immigrants who will stay in agricultural jobs. If the market determined wage level for agricultural workers is so low that it does not attract enough workers, employers will simply have to raise wages to get enough workers to meet their needs, and the prices of food products will go up accordingly. It will be the free market determining wages and not a wage level that can only be filled by illegal immigrants. Historically, at one point about 60% of the American population was working in agriculture. Today that figure is about 2%. What happened to the 58%? They found more productive, generally higher-paying jobs in other fields, and the transition ultimately brought benefit to the economy as a whole. We all want good paying jobs but they do not come on the ‘cheap’. If the ‘guy’ on one end of the spectrum wants a better paying job and we support that desire, those on the other end must be willing to pay more for some products.
And now to close this series on immigration, we can ask, what should American churches do with regard to immigrants who are part of their congregations? For immigrants who are here legally (Hebrew “ger”), churches should be a wonderful home away from home, a welcoming community that will work in many ways to help families from other nations adjust and adapt to life in this new country. Churches must remind employers to treat legal immigrants justly and fairly, never taking advantage of them because of their lack of language skills or lack of knowledge of American culture.
What about immigrants who are here illegally (Hebrew “nekhar” or “zar”)? Churches must kindly but honestly counsel such illegal immigrants that the Bible teaches that we are all to be “subject to the governing authorities” (Rom. 13:1). God requires us to be obedient to the laws of the nation in which we live. A church that helps illegal immigrants ‘skirt’ these national laws is also in violation of God’s laws. The current immigration laws of the United States require that people come here through an established legal process, and obeying that process does not require anyone to sin against God, so it does not fall under the category of the laws that we may in good conscience disobey (Acts 4:20; Acts 5:29; Daniel 3:18; Exod. 1:17,21; Esth. 4:16; Daniel 6:10; Matt. 2:8, 12). Illegal immigrants are obligated before God to obey the immigration laws of the United States.
In many cases it may be possible for churches to help illegal immigrants find an immigration lawyer who can help them work out a process to be able to stay in the United States legally. We must be honest, though, and admit that there are times when this will not be possible and, in order to obey the law, illegal immigrants will have to leave and apply for entry into the United States on the same basis as everyone else, through proper legal channels. We must encourage them to trust God that obedience to Him in the long run will be the path of greatest blessing in their lives. Lawlessness exercised by a church is not the right or a Godly thing to do to solve our nation finding the “Ship of State” in ‘shoal waters’. The way out is following the Word of God and exercising the ‘faith’ that we claim to have.
When addressing immigration we may want to look at the United States as our home. When we leave our home, most of us probably lock it up and some may even set an alarm. We come home expecting to find it exactly as we left it. What if on return we find that a family has made its way into your home by illegal means and is relaxing and even eating some of your food and forbid…drinking your beer? Are you going to welcome them, offer them a place to stay, give them clean clothing, fund them so they will not feel financially destitute, and provide free access to your home day and night even when you see that one of the ‘family members’ is wearing your favorite watch? I doubt many of us would accept such a situation. That is exactly what is happening to our United States home and for years our leadership has chosen to have ‘comfortable’ conversation rather than ‘defend’ our ‘home’. This is why orderly immigration has gotten so out of hand. Think about it!
Next week we will take a look at a subject that has divided many in this nation and labeled some as the ‘haves’ and ‘have nots’, bringing greed and envy onto the national stage and only driving the “Ship of State” further into ‘shoal waters’. The subject…business regulation. Both the Bible and our founders address this subject.
– Bob Munsey