Every day there’s a new huge story to follow and it’s hard to keep up. There’s Mueller’s investigation, tensions with North Korea, Hurricane Harvey, wildfires, Hurricane Irma, and so on. Although I’m doing my best to follow them all it’s DACA that has captured my attention lately. It may be because I remember going to school in south Florida and having a lot of immigrant friends and classmates. It’s also possible it’s due to the very diverse culture in my work environment. I like to think it’s just because I’m a decent human being who knows how to read.
As a woman of faith, I am stunned by the religious community in support of rescinding the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program. When it comes to immigration, the Bible is really clear about how we should treat others.
“When a stranger sojourns with you in your land, you shall not do him wrong. You shall treat the stranger who sojourns with you as the native among you, and you shall love him as yourself, for you were strangers in the land of Egypt: I am the Lord your God. – Leviticus 19:33 – 34
For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me – Matthew 25:35
“For if you truly amend your ways and your deeds, if you truly execute justice one with another, if you do not oppress the sojourner, the fatherless, or the widow, or shed innocent blood in this place, and if you do not go after other gods to your own harm, then I will let you dwell in this place, in the land that I gave of old to your fathers forever. – Jeremiah 7:5-7
The word of God goes on and on about how to treat strangers, sojourners, and others who would be considered “outsiders” in a land. We are to treat them as natives among us and love them. Truly, how hard is that to do? Of all of the things the Christian faith asks of us, treating others with kindness and love seems to be one of the easiest.
When it comes to DACA, we are talking about nearly 800,000 people. 800,000! These people are facing the possibility of deportation despite the United States being the only place they’ve ever known. There are those who scream and cry that these 800,000 people are undocumented immigrants as though slapping them with that label reduces their humanity and makes it more acceptable to treat them as sub-human. It doesn’t. The fact of the matter is that they bleed as we bleed, feel as we feel, and dream as we dream. Immigrants are human, just as native-born Americans are human. They have the right to be here, to seek education, to hold jobs, and to contribute to the growth and advancement of our society.
On Tuesday, Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced that the current administration will be rescinding DACA. The Trump administration then gave Congress six-months to take action before any Dreamers (those who rely on DACA) lose their right to study, work, and live in the United States.
Before I go on much further, let’s take a second to look at who these Dreamers are and what DACA does for them.
- These are undocumented immigrants who were brought to the United States as children.
- Dreamers had to have arrived in the United States before age 16 and have lived here since June 15, 2007.
- They are allowed valid driver’s licenses.
- They may enroll in college and secure jobs.
- They pay income taxes.
- They are not eligible for Obamacare subsidies, Medicaid, food stamps, or cash assistance.
In short, these 800,000 Dreamers were children who came to the United States and have been given the opportunity to earn an education, secure a job, and pay income taxes without the opportunity to rely on Medicaid, food stamps, or other cash assistance. They are people working hard to build a better life for themselves and their families, much as our own ancestors did when they immigrated to the United States. Immigration has always been a part of the United States. Pick up any historical fiction book that is set in America and you’ll see it.
In fact, here in West Virginia both Congressman Evan Jenkins and U.S. Sen. Shelley Moore Capito released statements expressing support of the plan to rescind DACA. I tweeted them both in disgust and called their offices to share my thoughts on the matter. The state of West Virginia, my home state, was settled by Scots-Irish, Italian, and German immigrants. West Virginia became a state in 1863 and in 1864, the new state authorized the appointment of a commissioner of immigration whose primary job was attracting immigrants to the area. The immigrants went to work building railroads, running saw mills, and working in coal mines. Honestly, has no one ever considered it odd that a mountain state in appalachia has the pepperoni roll as their official state food? It’s because the Italian immigrants used to pack them in their lunch pails when they went out to work to help settle and build this state. #LearnYourHistory
Yet, despite the United States foundation in immigration, we continue to treat them poorly. Despite the Bible’s very clear instructions to take them in and love them as ourselves, we fear and hate them. It’s shameful and we should be standing up for them, inviting them in, and encouraging them to help us move our country forward. Instead, we cry foul.
We cry and whine about how immigrants are a drain on our country’s finances (they’re not), how they are raising our crime rate (they’re not), and how they are taking American jobs (they’re not). To Christians, I have to once again refer back to the Bible. After all, that’s our gospel, right? God’s never-flinching always-accurate word? Well, He reminds us that:
And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose. – Romans 8:28
Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of his might. Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the schemes of the devil. For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places. Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand firm. Stand therefore, having fastened on the belt of truth, and having put on the breastplate of righteousness, … – Ephesians 6:10 – 18 (emphasis mine)
You see, if you love God and you seek to follow Him then you should trust that He is looking out for you and providing for you. It’s not your job to reject immigrants, to force them out of a country, and to cry out in fear over finances or jobs. If you claim faith and trust in God, then you should be trusting in Him to provide for and protect you. Your job, as the Bible clearly states multiple times is to love sojourners and strangers, to take them in and feed them, to love them as yourself.
And finally, all of this separation that we place upon people (race, ethnicity, heritage, skin color, etc) is perceived through wicked judgmental eyes that don’t come from God. In Luke 13:29-30 the Bible says, “And people will come from east and west, and from north and south, and recline at table in the kingdom of God. And behold, some are last who will be first, and some are first who will be last.”
Dreamers need us. To take action, call your rep and express your support of DACA. If you need the information, click here to learn how to call your rep.