Evangelicals & Immigration Reform

, Spencer Irvine, Leave a comment

Immigration reform is one of the most important issues on President Barack Obama’s legislative agenda. At a recent Heritage Foundation event, “Doing Good to the Stranger and Citizen: Evangelicals Discuss Immigration Reform” the discussion centered around comprehensive immigration reform and the Bible.

James Hoffmeier, Old Testament, Ancient Near Eastern History and Archaeology professor at the Trinity Evangelical Divinity School, began the discussion by pointing out how in the Bible, foreigners were a distinct group separate from the local population, and as such were not guaranteed the same protections. He explained that the term “heir” could refer to immigrants, and he saw these “heirs” as “a holder of a green card, a legal immigrant who has been formally recognized and invited.”

While anecdotal evidence is the usual counterargument for those who want open borders, Hoffmeier said, “It’s very dangerous to create policy based on the hardship cases.”

Hoffmeier concluded and by saying, “I think what’s happening today is that the people who are advocating using scripture for the undocumented, illegal immigrant, or whatever the catchword is that we can use, our try to credit the non-legal resident with the same rights and the biblical law calls for the legal foreign resident and therein lies the problem.”

Carol Swain, Professor of Political Science and Law at Vanderbilt Law School, knew that her critics were wrong in attacking her stance on illegal immigration because they saw it as a “win-win situation; there were no losers” argument. But, she said, “I knew that in the black community, there were losers.” She felt pressured by some people to believe that Christians believed in open borders, when her own personal research and study of the Bible did not support that position. Swain slammed the Congressional Black Caucus because “they have not, and don’t represent, black interests in America when it comes to immigration because there are losers and the losers tend to be low-skilled, low-wage Americans. Some of them are poor whites, some of them are black, some of them are Hispanics, but there are losers and WHO we need to be concerned about [them].”

Swain believed that the U.S. as a nation “is like a family, a household. And I believe that we have a responsibility to other people. We have a responsibility to our own family.” She asked why the U.S. did not “encourage more humane conditions” in nations that often send their best and brightest to American shores. Also, she questioned why a country that shared a border with the U.S. was the only ethnicity to come to America. She said that everyone should have “an equal opportunity to come” and that “would be more humane” than the current open borders policy. If immigration reform proponents were truly humane, they would fix the flawed H2B work program because she believed it “is not a very humane program.”

Christian churches and pastors become too deeply involved in political issues without doing their homework, lamented Swain. “Churches are out of their element when they start discussing social justice, when they get involved in public policy issues where they had no knowledge, that they’re really operating out of compassion, out of emotion, but they’re not really looking at the full picture and I think they’re being manipulated.” For example, she has seen “pastors discussing social justice, and they had no idea that it’s a Marxist concept.” She said, “If the churches want to be involved in politics, they need to be involved in an orderly fashion, follow the Constitution.”

“Christians, regardless of their background…should respect the rule of law,” Swain said.” She was worried that too many of today’s immigrants do not share America’s core Judeo-Christian values and said, “they don’t like us so much.” Too often, lamented Swain, we create problems for ourselves” if we bring in people [who] do not assimilate into our society and culture. She stated, “There is no place for Sharia law and the U.S. Constitution” and that these immigrants should come “wanting to become Americans.”

In the U.S., “we have a system for changing laws” and immigrants and their supporters should follow it. “It’s not the president signing an executive order and administrative statements,” she pointed out.  “We have a Congress.”

Comprehensive immigration reform are really buzzwords and none of the comprehensive immigration reform law is actually comprehensive. Swain pointed out that the Affordable Care Act, known as ObamaCare, “was supposed to be comprehensive and you see it has only worsened our condition.” In addition to proposing legislation, Swain suggested that there should be studies commissioned to study the impact of the law on low-wage, low-skilled Americans, entitlement programs, family reunification and immigration patterns. Swain went on to suggest that border security and visa overstays are other issues that have to be dealt with before overhauling immigration law.


Spencer Irvine is a staff writer at Accuracy in Academia.
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