This story has taken hold of me. 1500 children lost in the last three months, reports of possible human traffickers getting ahold of them. I am undone. How can anyone think that this is acceptable? Why isn’t this a national emergency? Why is the extent of our action a hashtag? Why is there so much animosity toward immigrants? Does the sign under lady Liberty say, “restrictions apply?”
Immigrants populated this country from the very first English ships to land on these shores, European immigrants came to a land that was not their native land, to join a people who did not look or sound like them. They came seeking reprieve from persecution. They came hoping they would be able to create a better future for their families. The statue of liberty in New York harbor is etched with these words of welcome,
“Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.
Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me,
I lift my lamp beside the golden door!”
These words sound very much like Jesus call in Matthew 11:28-30, “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.”
The scripture is clear on how we should treat others in general and the poor, orphans, widows, the fatherless and aliens specifically. Although this land was quickly taken over by European aliens, it seems many of their descendants have forgotten that this was not their native land. They feel that the same benefits they were afforded by emmigrating here should not be extended to others. I am the daughter and the wife of immigrants. I am the granddaughter of immigrants. As a person of Irish descent in America, I am well aware of how the Irish were treated when they arrived; some were forced to dock offshore, move to another port, or turned back without being afforded the opportunity to stock up on provisions and so, sent to their deaths. Those who were able to land were discriminated against for jobs, housing, & education. Irish and Italians were not even considered white until after the civil war. The KKK actively acted against southern Europeans, Italians, Catholics, Jews, and white Republicans in addition to the black people they terrorized. During World War Two, Asians were forced into American concentration camps. America has a terrible history with any non-wasp immigrant. But this is America, this should not be Christianity, and the two are not intertwined.
I’ve heard many people who profess to be Christians spew anti-immigrant sentiment. They proselytize anyone who will listen about their anti-immigrant stance as if it were biblical. Yet, this rabid anti-immigrant, America First stance is anything but biblical. Zechariah 7:10 reads, “Do not oppress the widow or the fatherless, the resident alien or the poor, and do not plot evil in your hearts against one another.” Again in Malachi 3:5 the scripture reads, “The LORD Almighty says, ‘I will appear among you to judge, and I will testify at once against those who practice magic, against adulterers, against those who give false testimony, those who cheat employees out of their wages, and those who take advantage of widows, orphans, and foreigners–against all who do not respect me. ‘”
God doesn’t stop there; He goes further. Not only are we not to take advantage of foreigners, He says we need to treat them as if they were not aliens at all. According to Numbers 15:15 “The community is to have the same rules for you and for the foreigner residing among you; this is a lasting ordinance for the generations to come. You and the foreigner shall be the same before the LORD.” Beyond that, God explains WHY we should not oppress foreigners in Exodus 23:9 “You must not oppress foreigners. You know what it’s like to be a foreigner, for you yourselves were once foreigners in the land of Egypt.” And, in case we didn’t understand exactly how we should treat aliens, He makes it very clear that instead of oppressing or preying on them, we should take care of them in Deuteronomy 26:12& 13 “When you have finished paying all the tenth of your produce in the third year, the year of the tenth, you are to give it to the Levites, resident aliens, fatherless children and widows, so that they may eat in your towns and be satisfied. You shall say before the LORD your God, ‘I have removed the sacred portion from my house, and also have given it to the Levite and the alien, the orphan and the widow, according to all Your commandments which You have commanded me; I have not transgressed or forgotten any of Your commandments.”
This policy of separating children from their parents and, even worse, losing those children ripped from their parents’ arms, must stop. God’s concern for struggling people is written all over the old and new testament. He condemns those who, “deprive the poor of justice and deny the rights of the needy among my people. They prey on widows and take advantage of orphans.” (Isiah 10:2). He reassures his followers that if you, “Leave your fatherless children; I will keep them alive. Your widows too can depend on me,'” in Jeremiah 49:11. The Psalmist illustrates his confidence in God’s love for the needy when he proclaims, “I know that the LORD will act on behalf of the tormented, providing justice for the needy,” in Psalm 140:12. Later, in Proverbs 29:7, Solomon declares that “The righteous care about justice for the poor, but the wicked have no such concern.”
Jesus knew how terrible it was to be left alone in the world. In John 14:18 he assures us that “I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you.” It says in the bible that out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks. When we hear people spewing venom against struggling people,w e need to consider where their hearts indeed are. If God can send rain on the just and the unjust, surely we can care for all people as He commanded.
“Pure and genuine religion in the sight of God the Father means caring for orphans and widows in their distress and refusing to let the world corrupt you.” James 1:27