Sunday, October 25, 2009

Competing Scripts on Immigration

As a native among you, so shall the stranger be, who lives as a stranger with you; and you shall love him as yourself, for you were strangers in the land of Egypt. I am the Holy One, your God.
Leviticus 19:34

Listen! The wages of the laborers who mowed your fields, which you kept back by fraud, cry out, and the cries of the harvesters have reached the ears of the Lord of hosts.
James 5:4

Yesterday, an acquaintance--who happens to be a Christian--was telling me how illegal immigration is ruining the country, comparing the US to an athletic team that accepts everyone without tryouts or cuts. 'How can this team possibly be successful?' he asked. I told him that this seemed to cut against the grain of a study I recently read in the Wall Street Journal (of all places) that the rise in 'low-skilled workers' from the South actually enhances the US economy.

The day before yesterday, Lou Dobbs reported the latest findings of a CNN poll about illegal immigration summarizing that 'the vast majority of the American public wants illegal immigration stopped and most want illegal immigrants now in the country to leave.' Of course, helpfully compares the methodology and results of the CNN poll with two polls conducted 6 months ago with straight-to-the-point questions:

ABC/Washington Post survey:

Would you support or oppose a program giving illegal immigrants now living in the United States the right to live here legally if they pay a fine and meet other requirements?

Support: 61 percent

Oppose: 31 percent

CBS/New York Times poll (4/22-26/09) gave three options for dealing with undocumented immigrants:

Stay, Apply for Citizenship: 44 percent

Stay as Guest Workers: 21 percent

Leave: 30 percent

Those of us who pledge allegiance to the inaugurated reign of God in Christ are committed to the erasure of diverse identities formed by political borders, gender and socio-economic classes [Galatians 3:28; Col 3:11]: we are all one in Christ Jesus. We are also scripted into the tradition of 'Moses and the Prophets' which calls us to love and care for the stranger and alien in our country. After all, as Luke's Gospel reminds us, if we don't follow Moses and the prophets with obvious admonitions like this, we won't really believe Someone if they rise from the dead [Luke 16:19-31]. We radical disciples have been trained to see the face of Jesus in 'the least of these' [Matthew 25:31-46].

Like our Master, we Christians are lobbyists for the least of these. We owe it to our Latino neighbors [legal or undocumented], who do the dishes, mow our lawns [James 5:4], harvest our fruit and so much more, to acknowledge their contributions to the US and advocate for their amnesty. The undocumented live in fear, far from home, trying to survive in the harsh economic conditions of this world.

The national debate on immigration reform is coming. Health Care and Climate Change will soon come to pass [or not pass] and the US, in the midst of a horrific recession--especially for our brown and black brothers and sisters--will dialogue (or shout) out these competing polls and competing versions of Christian faith.

-Theological Autopilot

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