Immigration Reform 2013: A Conservative Ponders Personal Immigration Policy
In the shadow of scandal and tragedy this week, the Senate Judiciary Committee voted to move the immigration-reform bill forward. As some conservatives attack the bill for being too liberal and some liberals attack the bill for being too conservative, a large swath of conservative and liberal organizations have endorsed the bill crafted by the Gang of Eight and promoted by Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.). As the House of Representatives begins to craft its own bill, Washington appears like it will be discussing scandal and immigration all summer long.
In the midst of the policy and political debates (which I'll likely write on as the summer wears on), it is important to keep perspective. It's important for conservatives like me to remember we want the federal government out of our lives because we want to solve the problems of our communities and care for the neighbors in our own community. Also realizing that PolicyMic could use more discussions of faith and politics and remembering that Christ himself often taught through parable, I felt the immigration policy debate requires anecdotes to provide perspective.
Yes, we need more secure borders. Yes, we have a broken immigration system that is fundamentally not working. And yes, both of our political parties have done very little to actually solve these problems and a whole lot to use immigration as a political tool to prod voters in one direction or the other. But today, I'm not discussing immigration policy. Today, I simply want to tell a story.
James 1:27 - Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world.
Deuteronomy 10:17-19 - For the Lord your God is God of gods and Lord of lords, the great God, mighty and awesome,who shows no partiality and accepts no bribes. He defends the cause of the fatherless and the widow, and loves the foreigner residing among you, giving them food and clothing. And you are to love those who are foreigners, for you yourselves were foreigners in Egypt.
Through the lens of these scriptures, I want to tell the true story of an upper-middle-class family in Arizona and how they sought to love the least of these as Christ commanded in Matthew 25, no matter what sacrifice it required.
There was a 15-year-old girl. She was pregnant, a three-time felon, and undocumented. She showed up one week at a youth Bible study at a middle-aged couple's church. The bible study was 99% white, and 98% were home schoolers. Into this Bible study walks a girl from a Mexican gang.
There were concerns at the church. Parents said they didn't want to have to explain sex to their children until the night of their wedding. Some didn't want her in the church because of the things they'd have to explain to their children. They held a meeting, where the couple who had befriended the girl were kept out. The husband was glad he wasn't invited, because he would not have been able to hold in the raw and real truths of the gospel, and a fist fight would have been likely to ensue. Despite the disapproval of their church family, the wife befriended the young Mexican girl and took her under her wing, telling her, "You're going to have a baby. So we have to have a baby shower for you!" The girl had two more years of high school and was planning to drop out. But the wife told her that she'd take care of the baby during the school day, drop the girl off at school, and pick her up. The wife drove her FJ Cruiser into and out of the ghetto every single day. Everyone around her told her she was crazy. She calmly replied that God went with her every day.
The young girl graduated third in her class. She was accepted into multiple colleges and awarded multiple scholarships ... until they were taken away due to immigration laws. She was an engineering student, and an excellent one. But due to another round of immigration laws, she could not get engineering scholarships either. So the husband wrote checks for her schooling. But since she knew she wouldn't be able to get a job anyways, she dropped out of school.
Upon dropping out, she dropped her child off at the couple's house and disappeared. After making every effort to get back in touch with the young mother, they began the adoption process. Their lives began to come together with the child's. Their lives were radically changed.
But then, one day, while finalizing the adoption process by making last-ditch efforts to contact both biological parents, the young mom showed up and wanted her child back. So they let the child go back with its mother and their hearts were broken.
Now, a couple years later, the young mom is a committed Christian. This past May, the couple attended the young boy's kindergarten graduation. There's hope that the future generations will be better off than the generations before. They continue to have a good relationship with both the boy and his mother.
And as the husband was telling me this story, he ended by saying, "That's what the gospel does. The true gospel! God will take it where it goes, regardless of who is in office and what policies are on the books. Yes, those things are important and need to be focused on. But never forget there are women like this and children like this that don't measure up to society. Sadly, they don't measure up to the church's expectations. These aren't people to fight against or hate. Their needs reflect our needs for God."
As we debate immigration policy these next few months and point fingers at the opposition, let's remember stories like this one. But while we complain about D.C. gridlock, let's think about what policies we actually need and what we can actually do in the communities around us. Most important, let's think about what sacrifices we can personally make for our neighbors. And for many of us, that means we actually need to step out of our comfort zones, and start by getting to know those neighbors that don't run in the same social circles as us and aren't very much like us at all.