There are two oft repeated phrases that come from CRC assemblies and agencies when they politically advocate about immigration. One is that we must "welcome the stranger," the other that "immigrants are a blessing and not a burden."
Let me say up front that I believe, and would advocate, that Christians, CRCers or others, practice a welcoming the stranger posture with respect to anyone in our neighborhoods and communities, even those who are immigrants, and even those who are illegal immigrants. I live in an area of my city (Salem, Oregon) where perhaps half of my neighbors are Hispanic, almost all first generation from south of the US border, many of whom are probably here unlawfully. I live with them as if their residency status is irrelevant. Because it is. I should "welcome the stranger" and so I do. Without qualification. Full stop.
But does the mandate to unqualifiedly welcome the stranger also apply to government? And when I advocate for government policies, should I presume the mandate to welcome the stranger applies to government just as it might apply to people, or churches? Many would say "yes."
My answer is a resounding "no." Government has a different role to play in society than the role I am to play, or that my church is to play. By analogy, I may be required to turn the other cheek but if government does that as well, no one gets punished for crimes and our society is on the road to anarchy. While I should live with my neighbors without regard to their citizenship or residency status, government has a different role to play. And to the extent I help government (as a citizen) fashion its immigration policy, I have to think differently.
So just how does assigning a different role for government work out? Like this.
When any nation's government allows immigration, it affects the lives of its own citizens. In line with the second oft-repeated CRC phrase (that "immigrants are a blessing and not a burden") I believe that in general, in an overall way, immigration is in fact more of a positive than a negative for the United States. But that's a pretty abstract thing to say and certainly not the only thing that must be said.
In my life, that of a practicing attorney, I've noticed that some are indeed very "blessed" by immigration, both lawful and unlawful. For example, large companies that hire lots of relatively unskilled labor love the influx of unskilled labor into the country. Put bluntly, it keeps down their labor costs because it increases the supply of unskilled labor. This is "Economics 101" working itself out.
But then there are others. For example, where I live (Oregon), an abundance of south-of-the-border labor creates a lot of competition for small construction industry operators. For instance, all-immigrant roofing crews create a lot of competition for other roofing operators.
Eliminate the immigrant competition and all the other roofing operators will be able to charge more, and vice versa. Again, this is Economics 101 at work. And as the other roofing operators lose, I and other "roofing consumers" win. For me personally, my cost to re-roof several structures in the last couple of decades has been less because of immigration, including illegal immigration. I've had several roofs redone.
So how does the government "do justice" to all involved, as well as look out for the general welfare of the US economy (assuming the latter is a legitimate goal, a subject matter for discussion all by itself)? I can't offer a complete answer to that question without writing at least a short book. But there is one thing I'm sure about: it is counter-productive to justice, at least "justice to all," when any political activist pushes only one side of the facts and focuses exclusively on only one side of the argument. It might be considered effective lobbying strategy to be one-sided, but it is still counter-productive to justice. Beyond that, it tends to create an intractable political divide. And is that not where we now, certainly as a nation, and increasingly as a denomination?
The bottom line: if we pronounce, without qualification, that we should "welcome the stranger," and include in that pronouncement that the mandate applies to government as well as to people and churches, we do in fact advocate for an "open border" policy (government can’t “welcome” when it doesn't allow entrance, even if to one person), even if implicitly. And that's not promoting overall justice.