OK, so last week’s post about hurting people drew a lot of attention. It was primarily directed to my home church and has led to some very healthy discussion within that church. Our leadership has stepped up in amazing ways.
But I also know that what I’ve written has created some misconceptions, and I take responsibility for that. Let me try and address some things:
- The vast majority of the church members that attend our bilingual service at the University church in Abilene are in the United States legally.
- The hurt felt within the Hispanic community extends far beyond the subset that doesn’t have proper immigration status. Much goes to the climate around what’s going on; see my post about the border wall to get a feel for that.
- In a comment, I stated that illegal immigration is not a crime. I should have said that being here without proper status is not a crime. The act of crossing the border illegally is a misdemeanor, which is considered a crime. A large percentage of those who are here illegally entered on a legal basis. During the campaign for the G.O.P. nomination, Marco Rubio put the figure at 40%; surprisingly, there are no good numbers available to confirm or contradict that. Rubio’s guess seems to reflect a good approximation.
- I have never suggested to a Christian that they enter the U.S. illegally. I personally don’t know any Christians that have done so. I do know many who became Christians after entering the country.
- About two-thirds of those who reside in the U.S. illegally have been here for more than 10 years. (http://www.pewresearch.org/fact-tank/2016/11/03/5-facts-about-illegal-immigration-in-the-u-s/) Most Christians that I’ve known who are here illegally are not border hoppers; they fall into this category of people who have come to establish a new life.
- Someone having broken the law does not preclude our extending compassion toward them. I wrote this in a comment on Facebook the other day: “If someone who is texting hits someone and kills them, can I not feel compassion for them even if they are suffering for their own mistake? What if they drive drunk and kill themselves; should I not feel for their families even though the loss was based on a broken law?”
I’ve written lots about the justice and injustice of our current immigration system. There’s nothing black and white about this situation; anyone who tries to reduce this issue to a phrase or two is on the wrong path.
But one thing is black and white: we are called to show compassion to our brothers and sisters who are hurting. A lot of people quoted Romans 13 to me; few quoted Matthew 25. The first one is about them; the second about us. It’s always easier to point out what they’ve done wrong.