Half of Latino Christians worry about themselves or someone close to them getting deported, according to the Pew Research Center. Many Hispanics are praying for protection as the U.S. government announces plans for more and quicker deportations for undocumented immigrants.
A significant proportion of our nation’s Latino population now say they have “serious concerns about their place in America,” according to the report published in Christianity Today, even though two-thirds were born here.
Samuel Rodriguez, one of President Trump’s advisors, and president of the National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference, recently stated, “I ask the administration to enact and fulfill the promise President Trump made not to harm families and exclusively deport those involved in nefarious activities. Please help us keep families together.”
I agree. We should deport criminals, and those who refuse to work and pay taxes. But we should not make criminals out of honest folks.
Here’s an idea. Why don’t we love our neighbors as we love ourselves? If we wish to live by the values of our Savior, let’s pay closer attention to what He said in Matthew 25:35-36. He made it clear that when His people show hospitality to strangers, they welcome Him.
God “defends the cause of the fatherless and widow, and loves the foreigner residing among you” (Deuteronomy 10:18-19). This thought is repeated throughout the Old Testament. The ancient wisdom of the Bible provides a better way of thinking than the obsessive fear, ethnic bigotry and inflammatory rhetoric that’s causing our neighbors to worry about the future.
It is easy for us children of privilege to forget that our ancestors came from somewhere else. America is a nation of immigrants. The Declaration of Independence states that “all men are created equal and that they are endowed by their Creator with certain inalienable rights,” especially the right to life and freedom.
Human rights are based on the fact that human beings bear the image of God. This is what it means to be human. If we believe this, it will inform our thinking about immigration policy.
Jesus is speaking to us. When He tells us to love our neighbors as we love ourselves, He is quoting the Old Testament (Leviticus 19:18). He is carrying forward into the present Christian era the principles of justice and compassion embedded in God’s eternal moral law from the beginning.
I believe Jesus is telling us that today’s law-abiding immigrants have the same God-given human rights and dignity as the descendants of immigrants who were born here (the rest of us).
Every week volunteers from our church minister to Hispanic school children in the inner-city. We are showing them Jesus’ love and sharing His good news. We are building positive relationships with their parents and extended families. We have never once asked any of them if they are undocumented. Nor should we. They are here. They are our neighbors, and we love them in Jesus’ name the way He told us to.
That’s a lot better than a program of deportation.
–Pastor Randall Faulkner