How does the command to love our neighbor as ourselves relate to illegal immigration?
Should Christians support an open border policy or amnesty or something like that? Aren't these people just looking to make a better life for themselves and their families? They just want the opportunity to work and feed their kids. Wouldn't we do the same thing if we were in their place? How can we deny them that chance? We shouldn't discriminate against them just for being born on the other side of an imaginary line. If we want the poor to help themselves, what more can we ask than these people who simply want to come here and work?
Is that what the golden rule requires? If so, we're in heap big trouble.
If loving our neighbor requires allowing anyone to come here, we certainly can't limit that to those born in Mexico or even South America. Why should we discriminate against those who were born in Africa or China. Don't they deserve the same chance to strive for a better life?
But if we say anyone anywhere who wants can come here, how can we limit that to those who have the means to get here? If we care about the poor, how can we neglect the poorest of the poor who could never afford to travel here? We will have to go get anyone who wants to immigrate here and bring them back.
How could it be otherwise?
Now, if you want to say we should do all of this ... well, at least you're consistent.
But does loving your neighbor really require such open immigration policies? I don't think so. There are three things we need to consider as we approach this problem.
1) Borders like we have today are a relatively modern invention. Nothing in the Bible directly addresses the issue because it didn't exist then.
2) While we're loving our Mexican, etc, neighbors who want to move here, we still have to love our Mexican, etc, neighbors who don't want to. Is the best thing for the people of Mexico to make it easy for their young, hardworking, talented people to abandon their country and come contribute to ours? Wouldn't open borders just be putting a band-aid on the real problem — a third-world country existing next to two of the most prosperous nations in history?
3) While we're loving our neighbors who want to immigrate illegally, we have to love our neighbors who did it legally. If we just throw open the borders, what do we say to someone who waded through the paperwork, waited for permission, fought with the bureaucracy, and otherwise obeyed all the rules? "Yeah, great, but this guy wants to be here, too."
It's easy to treat the Golden Rule as a feel-good, bumper-sticker slogan that can be tossed out to trump someone else's argument, but when thought through, it doesn't present much of a solution to our immigration woes.
I'm not prescribing any particular solution to the illegal immigration situation — right now, at least. I just want people to stop abusing "love your neighbor as yourself" as justification for their liberal views.
Immigration Reform and Christianity 1: Justice
Immigration Reform and Christianity 2: Mercy
Immigration Reform and Christianity 3: Pragmatism
Immigration Reform and Christianity 4: Solutions