Thursday, April 06, 2006

Immigration fiasco


I have more than a passing interest in the current debate about immigration laws that was bogged down in Congress yesterday and now, according to recent reports, seems like it might result in new, meaningful legislation. At least a third of the members of the church I serve are first generation immigrants. About half of our membership is comprised of ethnic minorities. We have members from more than 15 different countries--a fact that we celebrate annually with a "Taste of Grace" festival for our community. On this occasion (that is scheduled for this Saturday, April 8) we set up booths with native foods from a dozen or so countries we have represented in our church. We invite people to come taste the foods, learn a little about the various cultures and meet us. We use this opportunity to witness to those who come and try to establish new relationships. It is one way to show the community the power of the Gospel to break down the walls that naturally separate people of different backgrounds.

Our multiethnic leadership has grappled with the issues of immigration as it relates to membership. Should illegal immigrants be allowed to join the church? Should they be encouraged to return to their homeland? If members, should they be allowed to serve in leadership positions? Questions that had simple answers when asked theoretically take on immense shades of complexity when they are attached to flesh and blood.

I have seen the abuse that is sometimes inflicted on innocent people--unintentionally no doubt--by the system that exists for dealing with immigrants. I have tried to wade through some of the incomprehensible laws related to immigrants that have been patchworked together over decades. What I have found at points is hard to understand and harder to explain. WORLD Magazine has addressed some of the issues in thoughtful ways, including an article that shows some of the inconsistent and convoluted practices of our current immigration system.

What do you say to a woman who has been converted through the ministry of the church who wants to be baptized and join the church, but is living with a man who is not legally her husband? He was her husband for 15 years in their native South American country. But because it was easier for them to get visas into the USA as unmarried people, they divorced, came over here, discovered that "nobody in America takes marriage seriously," and so decided simply to live together. Then the Lord saved her, but not her (ex)husband. Now he is unwilling to marry her legally.

What do you say to a young man who has come to Christ through the church's outreach and wants to be baptized and join but whose visa has expired? He wants to become legal but every avenue he has pursued has resulted in a dead end. Talk of various types of amnesty has kept him hopeful, but he is here illegally.

What about the devoted Christian family that were working through what they were told was a legal channel to pursue permanent residency only to discover that they were scammed and are now left with no passport, visa, or any other form of legal identification. When we contacted legal authorities we were simply told that they were "small fish" and that, though it is unlikely, there is a slight possibility that in 10 years or so their case might come to light and receive some attention.

Living in Southwest Florida has sensitized me to the severe mistreatment that many immigrants experience both officially and unofficially. It is common to read in the local paper about immigrants who were robbed and/or beaten but who refused to call police out of fear of what might happen to them. Unscrupulous people take advantage of their fear and misunderstanding of the immigration laws and bilk them out of large sums of money.

I am a law and order guy. I believe that laws should be obeyed and lawbreakers should be punished. But when laws are unjust or unjustly applied, it is impossible to maintain a black and white perspective. Our immigration laws need to be overhauled. I am glad that Congress has followed President Bush's lead and tackled the issue. I am grieved, however, when I hear some legislators that come from my side of the aisle speaking as if all immigrants who are here illegally are willful criminals and should be treated the same. It simply is not that simple.

In the parable of The Good Samaritan Jesus explains what it means to love your neighbor as yourself. It involves showing social justice to those who are in no position to help themselves. While the Samaritan may not have broken any laws in his deeds of kindness, he certainly did go against the social conventions of his day by helping a despised Jew. "Go and do likewise" is our Master's instruction to us. I think this applies the the immigrants--legal and illegal--that are among us.

I pray that the current debate in Congress will result in laws that are more just and enforceable. I personally hope that some kind of guestworker plan is included. But regardless of what comes out of Washington DC, my greater prayer is that the churches of Jesus Christ in this land will lead the way in showing love to those who are the strangers and aliens among us.

30 comments:

justin said...

Amen!

joethorn.net said...

Tom,

This is a wonderful, honest post that shows your heart for justice, mercy and people. Very encouraging!

Stephen A Morse said...

Tom...

God still opens the eyes of the blind! Thanks for your candid post!

farmboy said...

As Mr. Ascol’s post demonstrates, the immigration question is complex. Without necessarily solving anything, I offer a few observations for consideration.

First, there was a time when state citizenship and church membership went hand-in-hand: At birth a child became a state citizen. Shortly after birth the child was baptized into the church. The notion that a person could be the citizen of a given state without also being baptized into the state church was not even considered. From the political perspective, this is why the notion of believer’s baptism – as opposed to infant baptism – was so radical.

Such is not the case today. We do not question the notion that state citizenship is separate and distinct from church membership. Thus, church membership is conditioned only on a person being justified and thereby reconciled with God the Father by grace alone, through faith alone, through the atoning work of Christ alone, as revealed in Scripture alone, for the glory of God alone. A person’s state citizenship is a separate, distinct issue.

Second, Scripture commands us to show proper respect to the governing authorities as they discharge a God ordained function. That being said, this command is not absolute. As examples, the founders of the United States took up arms against the governing authorities of the thirteen then-British colonies, and German citizens during World War II sheltered ethnic Jews in direct violation of German law. This leads to a third point.

Three, do laws define what is right and wrong or do laws merely reflect the objective standard of right and wrong that flows from God’s character? If the latter is accurate, then what of a law that is inconsistent with God’s moral character? What of procedures and regulations (types of law) that are to some extent arbitrary – a speed limit of 35 instead of 40, an annual immigration quota of 35,000 per year instead of 40,000?

Four, when one becomes a Christian, becomes a member of the Church, one leaves behind his/her old way of understanding and behaving and embraces a new way of understanding and behaving. Stated differently, one leaves behind his/her old culture and embraces a new culture. Much the same happens when one gives up citizenship in one state to become the citizen of a second state. One leaves behind the culture associated with the old state and embraces the culture of the new state. In this regard, this is why the United States – a nation composed largely of immigrants – is referred to as a melting pot where people from various different cultures meld together into a new common, shared culture.

This melting pot idea is critical if a state is to preserve its distinct identity. Witness the current problems in France and the Netherlands where large Muslim populations have migrated primarily from former North African colonies. These Muslim populations have not melded into the common state culture – in part due to their choice and in part due to the choice of the existing populations of France and the Netherlands. To use a metaphor from another part of Europe, we do not want a similar Balkanization of the United States.

How many of those who migrate to the United States truly seek to become United States citizens in the sense that they leave behind the culture of their former state and embrace the culture of the United States? In contrast, how many of those who migrate to the United States do primarily for employment reasons, having no desire to forsake the culture of the state they came from?

Fifth, the United States has a relatively unusual problem in that our concern is how to keep people out. Too often in world history nations have been faced with the problem of how to keep their people from leaving. To the extent there is an immigration problem, is it not better thought of as an economic opportunity problem? Using Mexico as an example, how many men have migrated north of the Rio Grande in search of employment when their preference would have been to remain with their families in the only land they know? These men would gladly stay in Mexico if there were viable economic opportunities in Mexico. Maybe, then, the solution to the immigration problem is successful economic development programs for nations like Mexico?

Sixth, yes, we should pray, but we can do more. Offering thoughtful solutions to problems such as this is one way for Christians to be salt and light, to participate in advancing God’s kingdom here on earth, to be conduits through which God dispenses His common grace.

Paul said...

It's amazing that we live in a day and age where we can, on a certain level, "go into all the world" by going into our own communities because here in America the world is coming to us. I see it as a tremendous opportunity God has given us to reach the nations even as we attempt to reach out in our local communities.

Alex F said...

Wow that's great stuff, Tom.

And your church sounds fantastic, too. If only more of our churches resembled yours in diversity - what a testimony to the truth of the gospel.

Gordon said...

Tom,

The simple fact is all immigrants who are here illegally are willful criminals. At some point they knowingly violate the laws of the USA, whether it is when they first seek in or over stay their visa. No matter how convolute or complex the immigration laws are, individuals cannot simply decide that the laws don’t apply to them. Otherwise, we simply revert to “Everyone did what was right in his own eyes,” (Judges 21:25).

While not directly applicable there is a principle in Paul’s sending Onesimus back to Philemon. Onesimus simply could not creditable profess Christ in one place and at the same time avoid his moral obligation to Philemon in Colosse. Paul in his letters continual exhorted believers not to live in their former lifestyle, but to live as unto the Lord.

Would you accept into your fellowship a thief that refused to stop stealing? Yes, I know that stealing is a clear violation of God’s moral law while illegal immigration isn’t specifically, but Paul and Peter both teach the importance of Christians obeying civil laws.

Illegal immigrants who are Christians should set the example for all illegal immigrant. They should advise the INS that they are in this country illegally and desire naturalization, if that is their wish, or are ready to return to their native country. These Christians either trust God (Romans 8:28) or they don’t. While awaiting INS action other Christians should accept them into their fellowship and encourage them in accepting God’s will regardless of the ultimate outcome.

As for Congress and the President, all they’re doing is creating more laws for the illegals to violate. They’ve for years thumbed their noses at our laws and they’ll continue to do so. This is a national security issue. Until we staunch the bleeding at the borders, what to do about the illegals currently in this country is a minor problem.

fred said...

Dr Ascol,

Your "pastor's heart" is showing.

You, and others like you, are gifts from God to the church. Please know that each of you are in my prayers often.

Fred

J.D. Rector said...

Tom: As a minister who works in the area of social ministry to the indigent, I find your comments very encouraging! I am honored to be part of a church that seeks to minister to the poor while at the same time proclaiming the Gospel of Jesus Christ to them. I have faced the same issues that you have in the area I reside. I am reminded of God's command in Micah... "He has shown you oh man what to do. To do justice, to love mercy, and to walk humbly with God." Thanks again for your comments on this matter!

Tom said...

Gordon:

I understand where you are coming from, I think. But I disagree with you in significant ways. It is not as simple as you think and I bet I can come up with an equal number of cases to challenge your practices as you can mine on the immigration issues. For example, in Dunn, NC it is illegal to spit on the sidewalk or street. If you lived there would you require someone turn himself in for doing so? In West Virginia it is illegal to own a red or black flag. Would you refuse membership to a sailor who owned a red "bravo/dangerous cargo" flag? "The simple fact is," anyone who owns such a flag is living illegally in West Virginia.

That is just one angle that demonstrates that identifying "willful criminals" is not so simplistic. I would guess that you have never attempted to wade through the immigration laws. The WORLD Magazine article to which I linked discusses some of the problems in the system. Depending on which country you come from, one of the best things you can do is to get arrested because that gets you "in the system" and on a waiting list from which there are no active efforts to get anyone removed.

I do think that your separation of dealing with illegal entry issues from dealing with those currently here illegally is appropriate, and I hope that lawmakers will do that (as it appears they might). However, if you are ministering to those stuck in cracks of our broken system of laws governing illegal immigrants, you might see things as a little less black and white.

I am not advocating lawlessness or any kind of wanton disregard for the laws of the land. What I am advocating is consistent legislation that that does not unjustly leave immigrants in an impossible no-man's-land.

Ryan DeBarr said...

In decades long past, we allowed our immigrants to come in by the millions and become citizens.

Today, we want them to come in. We want them to work like rented mules. We want them to pay into the Social Security system. But we want to ensure they never get a dime from Social Security. We want them to come here to mow the rich white person's lawn, but they best disappear from the neighborhood before the kids come home from school.

You should see the hurdles that immigrants have to jump through to stay legal. They may come here with good intent, but get stuck in the system with no means to leave. As Tom said, it really is not that simple.

All immigrants started out at the bottom of the totem pole when they came to America, but we gave them civil rights and allowed them to work their way up the ladder. Today we effectively deny them all civil rights.

This is wicked. God forbade the Israelites to treat strangers in their land in this way.

I have meant to post something on my own blog about this but could never muster any words for it.

johnMark said...

A black conservative woman's perspective. http://lashawnbarber.com/archives/2004/08/28/worldview/

Gotta run....

David Rogers said...

Tom,

As a missionary working with immigrants in Spain (the leading immigrant destination in Europe for the past several years), I can't tell you how refreshed I am to read your post on this issue. I was beginning to fear that once again I was practically the only one coming from American evangelicalism (although with all the ways living overseas has impacted my life, that is up for debate) who feel the way I do. When will the day come when we as evangelicals will be known in the world more as those who love and show mercy than as those who judge and discriminate?

Tony said...

Thanks Tom your post, it shows that the immigration issue is not as simple as “just give everyone amnesty” or “ship them all home.” As Chrsitians we are called to follow the laws of the land but we are also called to weigh those laws against the laws of God. So when the issue of immigration comes up it is not as easy to deal with when it becomes real.

My persoanl gut reaction is to do everything the leagal way but your examples are very helpful in that they show that not only do laws need to be enforced but those laws need to make sense and be sensible.

At the heart of this matter is to always remember to what kingdom we owe first alligience, God’s Kingdom. We can be loyal to our country but this loyalty must not obscure our loyalty to the cross. A good example was when I was at a “weekender” at Captial Hill Baptist and Mark Dever talked about how he took the American flag from the front of the church, and some ensuing issues that were raised by well meaning members. Not because he was un-patriotic but he saw it as possibly giving the impression that being a Christian equated to being an American. With his church being in D.C many people from other countries visit there and the last thing that needed to be done was muddy up the message of the Gospel with some form of percieved Patirotic Religion.

This all said I am still struggling over what should be done with immigrationa and how to deal with where we are right now. How does one deal with the issues you raise? Much more prayer needs to go into this than is often done. I for one need to do this and put my feelings on hold while I consult God and Scripture.

Tom said...

Tony:

It is complicated. The wide-ranging debate in Congress gives a glimpse into some of the difficult issues involved, despite the obvious political posturing that obviously goes with it. As a Christian citizen-king my great desire is that we have laws that are just and enforceable. When law enforcement representatives are compelled to ignore the very laws they have sworn to enforce and when it is formal policy to do so, it is quite obvious that there is a problem.

When dealing with these issues in the church our elders have delayed recommendations for membership, denied recommendations and required certain actions before making recommendations for membership, depending on the specifics of the case. Some of them have been "gut-wrenching" and forced us to spend hours in prayer, dialog, study and seeking counsel. One of the great blessings that has resulted from addressing these issues directly is seeing how God's people have responded to biblical instruction. In many cases we have seen attitudes change and sensitivity to biblical commands deepen. One family that has been seriously scammed and now find themselves in a "legal no-man's land" have appealed to legal authorities and have been told simply to wait and see what happens. They do so wanting to become legal residents here but willing to return to their homeland, if that is what the Lord wills. Their humility and faith and joy are examplary.

Greg B said...

Brothers:
I too am torn by this dilemna. I am an American and a Christian. I think it is obvious that as a nation our government must treat the problem of undocumented immigrants (short or long term) seriously for our security and our cultural stability (what remains of it). I must say, we never have allowed unlimited and unquota-ed immigration to the US. Ellis Island was there for a reason and many were either turned away or quarantined for quite some time based on their attractiveness to the society or possible harm (diseased or political). However, as a Christian it is difficult to think of families being seprerated or longterm residents being forcfully deported and knowing that many are exposed to the gospel through immigration. I think that we must include some sort of amnesty for longterm illegal residents who have proven their wish to be Americans, make the short-term immigration (greencard/work visa type thing) easier and tighten the boarders, all at the same time. This is complex, but it must be dealt with both compassionately and legally. I agree with one poster who notes that the open boarders in Europe have put them in a very serious situation. A large minority community that has no wish to become French but only to get economic benefits and when it is not enough they work in crime or riot.
Grace Alone,
Greg B

Tom said...

David:

I agree with you wholeheartedly. Our church has a family in Greece working with refugees and the stories they tell of abuse and hopelessness that they see are heart-wrenching. I am sure you see the same things regularly.

I fear that those in our camp are often so consumed with saying what Matthew 25:31-46 DOESN'T teach (salvation by works, to which I say, "Amen!") that we have not been willing to look honestly at what it DOES teach. Deeds of love and mercy are not optional for biblical Christians.

Keep pressing on in your good work in Spain!

Gordon said...

Tom:
The key word is willful. If, before I read your previous comment, I had spit on the sidewalk in Dunn, NC I would have been an unwillful criminal. (A judge would have to determine if my ignorance of the law would mitigate my criminal act.) But now, having been informed by you of such a law, I would be a willful criminal were I to spit on the sidewalk in Dunn, NC, no matter how trivial such an act might seem to me. Likewise, there are situations such as your West Virginia-red bravo/dangerous cargo flag where a specific law (a maritime law?) supersedes a a more general law. But even here the sailor must have a legitimate need for the red flag. If his vessel never handled dangerous cargo then he would not be justified in owning the flag.

Therefore, since those person who are illegal aliens made a choice before every crossing our borders to violate our immigration laws, they cannot be described as anything but willful criminals. One cannot hide in the complexity of the immigration laws, as if these illegal aliens did not know they were violating the law.

Their criminal activity isn’t a one time action. Their very presence is continuous criminal activity. Further, their very presence creates criminal activity on the part of others. Their employers violate the law. They create a market for fraudulent documents. They violate tax laws. They violate motor vehicle laws. And all of this done willfully.

Now, turning to the special case of those who say they have been born from above. How is it that they justify continuing to practice sin (1 John 3:4)? How does their criminal lifestyle glorify God (1 Cor. 10:31, Col. 3:17)? These people place more importance on living in the USA than they do on living righteously Coram Deo.

As a Pastor, would you not expect that any criminal who made a profession of faith also cease his criminal activity and to accept responsibility before civil authorities for his crime? You would never even consider taking into your fellowship unrepentant killers, thieves, extortionists, embezzlers, adulterers, homosexuals or anyone whose lifestyle did not indicate something of the transforming power of the Gospel. Why would you make an exception for illegal aliens?

Is this a call to cast aside these people? No! Give them godly counsel. Help them to see that they are not to live outside the law. Teach them to see that the outcome is in God’s hands and for their good. Possibly you could find for them good legal counsel so that they can receive the most favorable treatment within the law.

It needs to be remembered that illegal aliens put themselves into their situations. While they were yet in their native land our laws had no active control over their lives. They has no inherent right to immigrate. Whether immigration laws are just or unjust is a matter of legislative action or adjudication. It is not a matter to be decided by foreign individuals or states.

I know what I’ve said will be seen unloving, but for me the most loving thing that one person can do for another is to teach the truth of the Word. Mushy sentimentality over someone’s self-inflicted wounds is not love.

jason said...

Tom,

Thank you for posting on this and sharing how your church is seeking to wrestle with this issue. Thanks for speaking for justice and mercy for the glory of God. As you point out the issue is complex and the laws and system foster unjustice, and often exploitation. I appreciate your realization that while being a law and order guy that we as followers of Jesus need to speak out against unjust practice.

Mitch said...

We do need to remember that we are to be kind to "strangers in the land" and at the same time protect our borders. The more I ponder this the more I fear our post-Christian government will not be able to do what is correct and biblical. The answer is not easy and getting everybody to agree on it might even be harder.

Mitch

Tom said...

Gordon:

Your comments betray your lack of understanding of all the issues involved. Not everyone who finds himself in illegal status here intentionally chose that status. Some did. Maybe most did. But many did not.

You write:

"Therefore, since those person who are illegal aliens made a choice before every crossing our borders to violate our immigration laws, they cannot be described as anything but willful criminals. One cannot hide in the complexity of the immigration laws, as if these illegal aliens did not know they were violating the law."

Many did not "make a choice before ... crossing our borders to violate our immigration laws." Many came here with the full intent and purpose of seeking amnesty or green cards and have been caught in the vise of a broken system.

I would love to live in a world that is as cut and dried as yours seems to be. But such a world does not exist. You have conveniently created an ethic that declares "there are situations such as your West Virginia-red bravo/dangerous cargo flag where a specific law (a maritime law?) supersedes a a more general law. But even here the sailor must have a legitimate need for the red flag." Oh yeah? Says who? You--that's who. I could launch into a tirade about your lawless reasoning and advocacy of willful criminal activity based on some bleeding-heart ethical construct that allows you to violate one law in the name of another. I could go on to argue that an honest, law-abiding seaman would find a way to store his red flag out of state rather than use a craftily devised ethical scheme to justify his crass flaunting of our laws. As I said, I *could* do these things, but I won't. :-)

You write:

"As a Pastor, would you not expect that any criminal who made a profession of faith also cease his criminal activity and to accept responsibility before civil authorities for his crime? You would never even consider taking into your fellowship unrepentant killers, thieves, extortionists, embezzlers, adulterers, homosexuals or anyone whose lifestyle did not indicate something of the transforming power of the Gospel. Why would you make an exception for illegal aliens?"

You are correct in your assumptions but incredibly naive in the implications you attempt to draw. Do you really see no moral distinction between a person who is professes to be a Christian and yet is an admitted adulterer who intends to go on committing adultery and a professed Christian who is an illegal immigrant who does not want to remain illegal but can neither leave the country (due to lack of documents, having been scammed, etc.) nor gain access to the course for legal status because the laws prohibit them from applying. When legal authorities are consulted they merely give the equivalent of a shrug of the shoulders or say, "Wait and see what happens." I am not arguing that every illegal immigrant fits this profile but SOME DO. In your world, they should all be treated the same and regarded as no different that unrepentant homosexuals and murderers. The lack of distinction is born out of simplistic perspective that may sound good in theory (though I would not even grant that) but will deflate the Gospel of Christ in the real, fallen world.

If, in your mind, this makes me guilty of "mushy sentimentality," so be it.

Ryan DeBarr said...

A young man in the church I attended in Maryland married a Japenese student. She's a Christian, and he met her in college. This doesn't seem to be a marriage of convenience or anything like it. He just met a good Christian woman in a not so-Baptist place and married her.

He's had to spend a lot of his time living in Japan because her student visa expired and he just cannot get through the hoops in the United States.

If you marry a foreigner, it is actually easier to move overseas and work with our consulate there than it is to stay in the United States and try to work within the system.

Fortunately, this man is very well educated in a highly technical field. Japan will let him live there. It has not been easy for them, but they've bent over backwards at great expense to obey the law.

I really don't think they knew what they were getting into when they got married. The law, on the surface, seems simple enough: marry someone and they can become an American citizen. It should work that way. As it turns out, she couldn't even stay in the United States.

What if they hadn't had the money for them to move to Japan for a while?

What about the German boy who came to the United States and while in medical school gets his student visa revoked because his undergrad degree is from an unaccredited Fundy college? He's supposed to have recourse, but he can't do anything because they system is that broken.

It's not that simple... it needs fixed.

And let me say that I think there's a not-so-well hidden racism behind anti-immigration. Maybe not so much among the posters on this blog, but it's certainly there in the general populace. To us, illegal immigrant = Mexican, and particularly one who can barely speak and is literally dirty and smelly. But suddenly one's demeanor changes when they learn the illegal immigrant is a handsome, winsome blond haired, blue eyed German Baptist. Don't roll your eyes- it's true.

The system is just flat out broke, and it can't get fixed because people resent Mexicans for not being American enough.

J.D. Rector said...

Dear Tom: You... quilty of "mushy sentimentality"?!? Oh brother! Indeed, some in the evangelical church have no clue to the whole perspective on the immigration issue. Thanks for your candid response to those of us who have no clue. I for one appreciate your insight and wisdom. May we as members of the evangelical church respond to the aliens in our midst with grace, justice and mercy! Thanks again!

Matt said...

This is an important, meaningful post. My only concern is that some Congressmen may, in the spirit of helping those who are not purposefully criminal, end up with a policy that does nothing to stop the criminal or those illegals who want to work but end up artificially flooding the labor market. That's a bad thing all around, and not just for market purposes. Those sort of things affect communities in negative ways many times (housing, schools, etc).

Tim said...

Tom,

I tend to agree with many of Gordan's comments. However, I do understand concerning many illegals who are stuck in that status and it is not of their own doing, but is because of the "dragging" feet of governement.

With that said, I am one that works among many hispanic workers daily on construction sites. Most of them are hard workers and pleasant to work with. However, there is a large percentage (at least here in the Charlotte, NC) area who are not illegal because of government, but because of a willing choice they made. I have spoken with them and this is their stand. I truly believe that painting with a broad brush is wrong, but on this issue, I do honestly think that the broad brush is more apt than a thin one.

Our approach should always be to love and show compassion, for we are not the governing authorities, but I think for the majority, not the minority, what you are saying is just not true.

Furthermore, I might add that many immigrants have waded through the waters of attaining legal status, even being separated from their spouses. However, they did it. Is it just to then overlook those who do thumb their noses at this process? I think not. Again, I speak as one who seeks to help those who are immigrants, but I am against the attitude of those who are willfully opposed to immigration laws.

Jeremy Weaver said...

Tom said,
Not everyone who finds himself in illegal status here intentionally chose that status.

Exactly right. Before my wife (from Mexico) and I were married we went through all of the legal hoops pursuing a fiance visa. It ended up costing a couple thousand dollars and one year. That is ridiculous.
After that headache we finally made it to Ciudad Juarez, where again we jumped through more legal hoops. While there we found that the rules had changed on one of the forms. After hours of anxiety over having to go through the whole process again, one of the officials had compassion on us and went ahead and approved the form.
We finally made it to Tennessee where we had to marry within three months. We married, but in those three months the rules had changed again. We needed to essentially start over. My wife was here for a couple of years illegally because of that. She's a citizen now, but the process was a nightmare.

Gordan said...

Tim,

Those comments are from "Gordon," not from me, "Gordan." I'm only reading! :)

jbuchanan said...

Amen! This issue is so misrepresented in the media and misunderstood by people throughout America. We have a Hispanic mission at the church that I Pastor and it is an absolute blessing to our church. Like Tom, I to have become sensitized to this issue by talking with immigrants legal and illegal. I for one believe that much of the fervor for stricter immigration laws are driven y the media outlets such as Fox and CNN which have made it a hot topic. I understand the need for security and the argument that people should obey the law but I'm compelled by Christ to reach out and to minister to these folks. I also disagree with those who characterize illegal immigrants as willful criminals. The issue is very complex and as Tom points out many did not intend to come here illegally. Others are so driven by desperation that I can hardly hold the law against them. I am a Christian first and then an American. My first obligation is to minister to the person in need and to preach the gospel. I will continue to do that with legals and illegals no matter what the law says.

johnMark said...

I think Steve Hays made a good responsive post. Not sure if everyone saw it. Here it is:

http://triablogue.blogspot.com/2006/04/killing-with-kindness.html

Mark

Social Democracy Now said...

'And let me say that I think there's a not-so-well hidden racism behind anti-immigration. Maybe not so much among the posters on this blog, but it's certainly there in the general populace.'

Whether there's racism or not is totally irrelevant. What matters is whether immigrants are good or bad for the society that receives them. The evidence is that large-scale influxes of migrants depress employment opportunities for native workers. Here's a report on immigration and unemployment in Greece:

http://www.blogigo.co.uk/
socialdemocracynow/entry/56778

Perhaps it's only the angry 'racists' who are willing to risk violating the taboos on this subject. Everyone else just shuts up about it for fear of being smeared as racist.