Series: What I Would Change About Our Immigration Conversation
October 17, 2016
Updated January 30, 2019
3 comments 248 views
φιλονεξια, φιλονεξιας, ἡ : love to strangers, hospitality: Romans 12:13; Hebrews 13:2. (philoxenia)
So much of the conversation about immigration during this election season has not been based on facts or on the biblical value of philoxenia. There has been much talk about immigrants — and not enough listening to immigrants themselves.
How does the immigration conversation need to change? Four immigrants will speak up from their experience this month on Do Justice.
Let’s change the conversation about immigrants. #BlessingNotBurden
Check out the series posts on the Do Justice blog.
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I would change it by making it less about politics and government policy and more about person-to-person interaction in our neighborhoods and local communities.
I would change it by getting rid of simplistic mantras like "immigrants are a blessing and not a burden." That bumper sticker slogan is merely a political pitch that we all join together to broadly advocate for a particular government policy on immigration.
Finally, I would change it by de-emphasizing the immigrant or non-immigrant status of people and emphasize more the biblical mandate that we demonstrate love to all, without first categorizing them into classes like immigrant v. national, illegal immigrant v. immigrants with green cards or visas -- and also other classes like black v. white v. Asian (etc), criminal record v. no criminal record, more wealthy v. less wealthy, younger v. older, those who live in the west or south sides of town v. those who live in the east or north sides of town, etc.
Government policy is one thing (and we, CRCers, will differ on that a lot); how we are to treat each other and people in our neighborhoods or communities is quite another (and we, CRCers, should not differ on that much at all). The first is a really complex subject matter, the second not so much. The first has nothing to do with the fact that we are CRCers, the second a lot to do with it.
Since our country is receiving refugees, we should welcome them and show them Christian love. We should make sure they are not being taken advantage by unscrupulous corporations, they have thorough health screenings and treatment before beginning a job or school, and they are truly granted the freedoms we have as Americans. It seems like they are being treated as a commodity by a lot of people and organizations. We need to pray for them and speak against injustice.
I agree with Noel. This is not the first time there have been refugees coming to the US. My CRC Church (in Oregon) took in (sponsored) several SE Asian families post-Viet Nam war in the 1970's, and that involved more than a little of our time and money.
We didn't argue or debate about the war, or about refugee/immigration policy, or about government policy, nor did we debate the net good or bad that the refugee intake might do for this or that part of the economy, job market or society. Those things could be and were argued about in other contexts. What we focused on is doing what we should do for refugee families who were coming or had come, regardless of any of our political disagreements about broader questions.
It was there that we could find unity as Christians of a local church fellowship, whatever our differences might be as to other questions.
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