No – I don’t have an answer. I wish I did – I wish I knew the way to please all sides so that we could live in peace and harmony. I don’t. I see valid points from every direction, and I see foolishness as well. Yes – we have always needed safe borders. It is foolish to believe that letting everyone come in without being checked will turn out okay. Yes – we need to live up to our founding. We are a nation that was built on the backs of forced and voluntary immigration. Enslaved people – oppressed people – entrepreneurial people – all of us – or our ancestors – came here from somewhere else. Even Native Americans probably walked here as nomads, moving with the weather and following the herds. Immigration is a fact of life all over the world, and it is getting worse with increased war and world climate change.
I have always believed that the sabbath laws were created, in part, because of immigration. After all, a day off was not granted only to wealthy landowners – God’s wisdom made it clear that all people and animals needed rest. It is a physical, spiritual, and psychological necessity that we take time off. All work doesn’t just dull us – it kills us. It is interesting that, among all the different people that could be mentioned in Exodus, it is family, slaves, animals, and alien residents who are listed. It is only my opinion, but I think that God knew – and still knows – that human beings would work the last three groups to death if given the chance. Greed is at the core of this law, and life is more important than wealth. At least, it is to God.
Economies need immigration to survive. We have seen what happened to so many farms when immigrants were kept out. From a purely selfish point of view, a good immigration policy matters to all of us. The rhetoric opposing immigration is silly – on the one hand, immigrants are coming to take our jobs. On the other, immigrants are coming to get our government handouts. The truth about the vast majority of immigrants is that they are running from dangerous situations, and are willing to travel thousands of miles and pay thousands of dollars to find a place that is safer than their homeland. The American dream is not just about money – it is about safety and justice.
The question is not whether we need immigrants – we do. The question is not whether they will continue to come here – they will. The question isn’t whether or not we need smart policies and safe borders – of course, we do. This nation has been trying to figure this out since we became a nation, and when we have needed immigrants, we have let them in. When we have been in crisis, we have targeted them. What is really important in the long run is how we treat them. Do we lock them up like animals, or do we treat them like people in need? Do we take their children away from them, or do we keep them safe?
In the best version of our national self-image, we are the Statue of Liberty. In the worst, we are vigilantes hunting immigrants down. We have to decide who we really are. It matters, not just to the huddled masses yearning to be free – it matters to God.
Prayer – All people, God, or Your people. All people are of sacred worth and in need of respect. For those of us who have enough, teach us to live equitably. Amen.
Today’s image is known to the entire world.