Illegal acts, not people

Q: Illegal immigrants are flouting U.S. laws, but does affluent America (or Arizona for that matter) have a larger moral … Continued

Q: Illegal immigrants are flouting U.S. laws, but does affluent America (or Arizona for that matter) have a larger moral or spiritual obligation to help illegal immigrants who are trying to better their lives? What about religious obligations to welcome the stranger? Are we our brother’s keeper?

Lady Liberty has a conundrum. What should she do with those who heeded her call, illegally? What do we do with the undocumented immigrants currently here? Do we deport them? Are we morally obligated to embrace them? Are we truly our brother’s keeper? To answer the aforementioned queries we must first lay out two suppositions.

First, human beings should never be described as illegal. One may commit an illegal act but one’s existence is never, in the eyes of God, illegal. This labeling process historically facilitated the legitimacy for horrific atrocities ranging from the Holocaust to Rwanda, Cambodia and Serbia. Human beings are made in the image of God, therefore they cannot be illegal. As a pro-life advocate, I personally find it hypocritical that the same “Family Values” voters who vociferously defend life in the womb seem so inclined to label another human as illegal.

Second, the answer is yes. We do carry a spiritual and moral obligation to help even those who came into our country illegally. Our Judeo-Christian heritage demands it, our history supports it, our ethos endorses it and our future requires it. Let me explain. Leviticus 19 and Matthew 25 provide the theological framework for the moral obligation that requires us to look at these undocumented individuals via the prism of grace and compassion.

As a Christian, I am obligated to assist those in need in the same spirit of the Good Samaritan. The problem really centers on the lenses we use to view our world. If I view the immigration issue via the lens of political ideology, then I will view those around me either through the spectacles of Glenn Beck or Rachel Maddow.

However, If I wake up in the morning and I begin to view the world not as a Republican, Conservative, Democrat, or Liberal, White, Black or Latino but rather as a child of God, then the world around me emerges as a stage of opportunity for mercy, compassion, renewal and hope. Tolerance becomes my moniker, charity my beacon and justice my aspiration.

Let me be clear. We must stop all illegal immigration. We need legislation that will protect our borders, put an end to all illegal immigration, create a market driven guest worker program and facilitate avenues by which the millions of families already in America that lack the legal status can earn such status in a manner that reflects the Judeo-Christian Value system this nation was founded upon.

But here lies the challenge; can we reconcile Leviticus 19 and Romans 13? Can we repudiate xenophobic and nativist rhetoric, push back on the extremes from both the left and the right and converge around the nexus of the Center Cross where righteousness meets justice, border security meets compassion and common sense meets common ground?

Yes, and here’s how. We should allow the millions of undocumented and otherwise law-abiding persons living in our midst to come out of the shadows. The pathway for earned legal citizenship or temporary residency should involve a program of legalization for undocumented persons in the United States, subject to appropriate penalties, waiting periods, background checks, evidence of moral character, a commitment to full participation in American society through an understanding of the English language, the rights and duties of citizens and the structure of America’s government, and the embrace of American values.

We must return to a rational immigration policy that acknowledges that we are both a nation of immigrants and a nation of laws. It is our obligation to provide a just solution to those people who are currently undocumented under the present policy. That solution is neither amnesty nor mass deportation. A just, rational policy would put otherwise law-abiding undocumented persons on one of three paths: One path leads to pursuing earned legal citizenship or legal residency, one leads to acquiring legal guest-worker status, and one leads back across the border including a swift process for the deportation of undocumented felons.

For at the end of the day, Lady Liberty still stands tall with a message for the world to read, “‘Give me your tired, your poor,Your huddled masses yearning to breathe..” The moment we cease to be our brother’s keeper, we cease to be America.

Samuel Rodriguez
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  • jytype616

    Pastor Rodriguez is being disingenuous when he claims that acts are illegal not people. No one, not the citizens of Arizona or its representatives, have ever challenged the right to exist for those who violate the laws of this land. There are codified laws throughout this great nation of ours that criminalizes certain acts — such as a non-citizens’ entry into the USA without permission from the federal government. It is this act that is deemed “illegal” not their physical existence. Criminals (i.e. those who break the laws) always purport to have reasons for breaking laws – some reasons are understandable, some not. However, it is the right of this sovereign nation to declare that economic depression in one’s native land is not a reason to break U.S. immigration laws. The USA’s laws are not dependent upon another countries’ economic policies; therefore, USA laws should not be set aside when said policies fail. By the way, in regards to your attempt to insinuate that USA citizen’s insistence that immigration laws be followed is un-Christian-like, you should know that the U.S. is one of the most generous countries in the world. Even when our enemies suffer natural disasters, the U.S. is among the first to lend a helping hand. So don’t try and demonize your fellow citizens for asking – no, demanding – that everyone who wishes to join this great nation, must first begin by showing respect to the laws of this nation. This great nation is not some fluke that just happened to come about. This great nation is the result of a lot of tears, perseverance, struggle, overcoming of adversity, and sacrifice. And through out, the American people have still managed to reach out to others. So there is nothing, ABSOLUTELY NOTHING, wrong with demanding that those who wish to become a part of this great nation do so by FIRST respecting and obeying the laws and not demand that they be an exception to the laws. That is not the type of ‘exceptionalism’ this nation was built upon. By granting the exception you would have this nation give, an injustice is done to all who came before and stood in line and waited for their share of this great pie.

  • joe_allen_doty

    “Christians” need to stop proof-texting completely out of context scriptures to suit their social, religious and political agendas. I am a Believer in Jesus the Christ and on my university transcript, I also have the equivalent of a Master of Arts in Theologial and Historical Studies degree and I took those courses an accredited university, too.One of those courses was “Interpreting The Bible” where the principles of Biblical Hermeneutics as taught. One thing we were taught NOT to do was proof-text scripture to suit any kind of agenda. During Bible times, BC and AD, there were NO border patrols and no ports of entry to Israel, Judea/Judah, and Samaria. Since Israel and those other “countries” were under Roman rule during the 1st Century AD, people who were NOT slaves and could go to any country in the Roman Empire freely.Mr. Rodriguez is apparently a Mexican-American. Doesn’t he know that almost every adult who crossed the border from Mexico into the USA knew in advance that they would be breaking the law if they did not go through customs at an official Port of Entry into the USA? It’s one thing for people to break the law (called “committing an offense” in the Bible) on their own; but, Jesus said, in words to this effect, “Woe to the one who causes another to commit an offense.” Yes, we need to change the immigration policy; but, we don’t need to break the law before it gets corrected.

  • farnaz_mansouri2

    Agree for the most part. However, I do not think that the issue is our departure from a “rational immigration policy.” The fact is that our immigration policy has always waivered between the instrumentally rational and the nonrational. Most recently it is the former to which policy has conformed itself.Consider the decades during which we turned back Hatians fleeing one of the most repressive and the poorest nation on earth when we welcomed as heroes Cubans fleeing that nasty Castro. Our “rational” policy, and it was instrumentally rational, was founded on our hatred of Castro and communism and our alliance with the most miserable dictators on earth, said animals allowing our government and wealthy exploiters to rape Haiti. (It is raping Haiti, still.)Also, consistent with our instrumentally rational immigration policy is our interference with South American governments, our support of Strong Men mass murderers, who all but necessitate immigration.A rational immigration policy is not the answer. Rather it is the implementation of justice, the ending of the Congressional-Judicial-Executive-Postindustrial Complex and Gang.

  • faeyth

    BE AN EXCELLENT CHRISTIAN GO TO MEXICO,PROTEST FOR BETTER WAGES,REPRESENTATION,WEALTH DISTRIBUTION,BE A MISSIONARY AND GO DO GODS WORK.MAKE OTHER COUNTRIES BETTER WHICH I BELIEVE IF YOU LOOK AT US CHURCH WORK,GOVERNMENT HANDOUTS,AND FOREIGN POLICY AMERICANS DO MORE FOR THIS PLANET AND FELLOW MANKIND THAN ANY OTHER PEOPLE ON THIS PLANET HOWEVER WE SHOULDN’T HAVE TO LIVE IN POVERTY BECAUSE OTHERS COME HERE WILLING TO LOWER WAGES HERE INSTEAD FIGHTING FOR HUMANITY IN THEIR OWN NATION.YOU ARE A LAZY REPRESENTATIVE OF CHRIST AMNESTY IS A LAZY BAND AID FIX NOT A SOLUTION TO WHAT ILLS THIS PLANET.STOP LETTING GREED MANIPULATE NATIONS AND WORKERS AND HUMANS.

  • areyousaying

    “However, If I wake up in the morning and I begin to view the world not as a Republican, Conservative….” it would be quite a miracle since the Reverend is known to be far intolerant right on all issues except, apparently, immigration.Do you not think they call me “ilegal” here in Mexico if I do not have a work visa? My question for Mexicans and their apologists is: ¿Puedo ser ilegal en su país?

  • iamerican

    “labeling process historically facilitated the legitimacy for horrific atrocities ranging from the Holocaust to Rwanda, Cambodia and Serbia”Each of which atrocity/abomination can, and should, be laid at the doorstep of the Vatican…the author of “The National Pastoral Plan for Hispanic Ministry,” its openly published stratagem for taking over the United States by promoting illegal immigration.Treason is treason…even when it’s Rome’s “Fifth Column,” committing it on a tax-free basis.Death for Treason – full expropriation of the Roman Anti-Christ and its fascist plutocracy in America…and complete banishment or extirpatioin.