Immigration reform is back in the news, and as usual there is argument over what the specifics in the proposed bill mean (and even over what they are). I want to think about what we should look for as we seek to apply the Christian Faith to this issue.
Two themes that ring clearly and often in the Bible, especially the Old Testament (OT), are helping the poor and justice. Helping the poor is based on the notions that the poor person is a valuable human being made in the image of God and that we who have been blessed by God must share that blessing (be it material or spiritual).
Justice is not always clearly understood. It is the notion that the law should be applied consistently and fairly. Certainly there is room for mercy, but there are times, especially on a national level, when the focus must be on properly applying the law. The Bible is clear that you should not pervert justice by giving the rich man preference over the poor man. It is equally clear that you must not give the poor man preference simply because he's poor.
So in our debate which tends to be between those who want to share what we have with the poor and those who want to apply the law consistently and fairly (of course, there are other sides, but we’re going to ignore now them for a variety of reasons), we have to ask if there is a balance between the two and where it is.
In my humble opinion, the rule of law has to be maintained. We live in a society of laws, but the respect for the law grows weaker by the day. Our duty to our God as well as to our families and neighbors is to seek to maintain a society where the law is respected and where, though there will always be criminals, in general people follow the law and expect others to do so. John Mark Reynolds has a lot to say about this topic here.
With that said, there are millions of desperately poor people who live just across the border. They need, and I think God requires, for us to do something to aleviate their situation if we can. But what can we do? We’ll talk about that next time.