Immigration: Let's tell the truth
Talk about life imitating art: Yesterday’s immigration protests reminded me of the satirical movie, “A Day without a Mexican.” In the movie, everyone who is from south of the border disappears one day. This creates shortages for all the people who are moaning about illegal immigrants invading the country. There’s nobody to care for the children, pick the fruit, wash the dishes, and do so much else that we have deemed necessary to keep the economic machinery running, preserve our lifestyles, give us access to goods and services at dirt cheap prices, wholly because the laborers are treated like dirt.
So I suppose I need to ask some important questions here, both theological and personal:
What does the Bible say about immigration? The Bible shows us that God desired Israel to treat the alien the same as the native, and went to great lengths to warn against oppressing the alien, based on the remembrance that Israel was herself and aliens in a foreign land. Oppression that comes through paying substandard wages, or denying basic health care and education cannot be tolerated. At the same time, God places the burden on the alien to adapt to the cultural mores of their new land. If an alien wanted to participate in Israel’s festivals, that person had to embrace the ethic of the Jewish culture, and her practices. I interpret this to mean that the foreigner who wants to enjoy the benefits of a new land should be adaptable to the new land, learning her language, and obeying her laws. Are we open? Are our newcomers adaptable? Are we just? Are they obeying the laws?
Am I willing to be hospitable? Creating immigration laws on the books and then turning the other way because they continue to provide goods and services for us at far cheaper rates than would be possible if we treated them justly is the worst possible scenario, embodying both oppression and hypocrisy. It needs to end. And that means I need to be willing to pay real prices for strawberries, eating out, and cotton t-shirts. Am I willing? Are you? It seems that is part of what it means to be hospitable.