On March 27, 2010, Arizona rancher Robert N. Krentz Jr., was found shot dead on his ranch near the Arizona/Mexico border. As the investigation continued, they suspected an undocumented immigrant responsible for the shooting. The findings are inconclusive and no suspect has been taken into custody, but the suspicion alone was enough. This story made headline news in many national newspapers, here for example, and sparked not only a number of blog post, follow up articles, opinion papers, and other news media, but is also seen as one of the major tipping points bringing about some of the strict immigration legislation proposed and passed in the state of Arizona. Regardless of people’s politics, nobody wants to see something like this happen. It was certainly a tragedy.
On January 6th, 2011, a Unites States Border Patrol agent shot and killed a Mexican 17 yr. old boy who was attempting to cross into America. The news brief can be found here.
Although both stories were found in the New York Times, this one was a paragraph tucked back on page A13. Don’t get me wrong, the amount of news coverage given to the dead rancher was appropriate. But what about the dead immigrant, the teenage boy coming across the border to find work and participate in the same American dream many of our ancestors came for? It took me a single site search to find the stories on the dead rancher, however it took me almost ten minutes to find the second story. And in the age of Google, ten minutes of searching is a relatively long time.
The issue of immigration is a hot topic these days in America. I grew up in Arizona and my whole family still lives there, so it has been an even bigger deal for my family. With the recent defeat of the Dream Act in the Senate, the proposals on laws about anchor babies, the censorship of Mexican-American education classes in Tucson, and the constant lobbying on both sides of the political spectrum in Congress, immigration reform is an issue that Americans can’t ignore.
As the disproportionate coverage of the two murders mentioned above shows, the debate on immigration in our country is not purely driven by policy, it is driven by prejudice. We often times say more as a country concerning our prejudices by what we don’t say, then by what we do.
As the debate really began to become an important issue in my life a few years ago, and as it becomes a more pressing matter in national politics, I’ve had to really examine my heart on the topic. Although I do have a stance politically on the issue, I want to ask a different question, a more fundamental question: How should Christians think about the issue of illegal immigration? I’m not asking what, I’m asking how.
Regardless of our political leanings, despite our citizenship in the US, we are first and foremost citizens of heaven and as such we as Christians need to first approach this issue as Christians. What is the biblical attitude towards immigrants? How does Scripture balance justice and mercy? What I see happening in the American church with immigration is similar to what happened in the church during the Civil Rights movement, or during the Civil War. Christians are thinking and deciding out of their politics, not out of their spiritual renewal.
So I want us to take a step back from the politics, from the noise of the rhetoric and the extremes of both parties. How should the bible shape the attitude we as Christians bring to the issue of illegal immigration inflaming our country?
I greatly desire your feedback on this. However, I do not want the comments you leave to just start the political back and forth that often times lead to hurt feelings and nothing accomplished. Think of this issue from a spiritual standpoint, examine your own hearts and let’s have a great conversation about this!