America was founded by those who came here without permission, forcing the country’s original inhabitants out—pushing them further and further westward—and killing their food supply. First generation immigrants often fled their homelands for better lives for their children and to free themselves from oppressive ruling parties and religious conflicts. Immigrants today are doing the same things.
Some Americans criticize today’s immigrants for risking their lives in order to provide safer circumstances for their children—the same as our forefathers did, traveling across treacherous oceans with meager provisions and sickness and death to deal with. Some blame current immigrants for wanting to get out of harm’s way in their native countries where drug dealers often kill at will—the same as our ancestors did when fleeing burnings at the stake and executions.
Instead of criticizing them, why can’t we help them?
Leviticus is often quoted by the religious right, so look at what is said in the 19th chapter, verses 33 and 34 (King James Version): “And if a stranger sojourn with thee in your land, ye shall not vex him. But the stranger that dwelleth with you shall be unto you as one born among you, and thou shalt love him as thyself, for ye were strangers in the land of Egypt.” The New Life Version: “If a stranger lives with you in your land, do not do wrong to him. You should act toward the stranger who lives among you as you would toward one born among you. Love him as you love yourself. For you were strangers in the land of Egypt.”
Should we not love our neighbors, no matter what the circumstances of their arrival? Should they not be treated as ones born among us?
We, too, were strangers long ago in Egypt and again in America a few centuries ago. When did we lose our empathy and condemn those doing the same things our ancestors did? When was forgiveness eliminated from the Christian vocabulary?
Could we not, as Christians, solve the problems of immigration with dignity and Christian love?