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Numb

July 21, 2019

Border patrol agent providing water to an unaccompanied migrant child, Author US Customs and Border Protection, Source flickr (PD as work product of federal govt.)

Immigration is one of the most contentious issues facing this nation.

There are those who view migants (legal or illegal) as nothing more than interlopers – a threat to American values and a source of crime, drugs, and unfair labor competition.  There are others who deny that migrants – no matter their numbers or their intentions – pose any challenge at all.

Neither political party has offered a viable solution.

Against this backdrop, a striking article in ProPublica describes the experience of one border patrol agent guarding immigrant children [1].

Politics aside, the observations are deeply disturbing:

  • Conditions in confinement are worse than publicly acknowledged. But a growing acceptance of intolerable conditions is the norm.
  • Border agents place their jobs at risk if they speak to journalists without permission or complain to supervisors.  This enforced silence interferes with Congressional oversight, and deprives agents of an opportunity to express their concerns.
  • Stressed agents either view migrants as criminals (and treat them accordingly) or feel helpless to deal with the chaos.  In an effort to continue doing their jobs, agents become increasingly numb.

The rest of us must not become numb.  Whatever our political leanings, we must not become so jaded that we turn a blind eye to the suffering of migrants, especially children.

If we lose sight of their humanity, we place our own at risk.

If one of your brethren becomes poor, and falls into poverty among you, then you shall help him, like a stranger or a sojourner, that he may live with you” (Lev. 25: 35).

The situation confronting us is admittedly complex.  We can strengthen our borders.  We can limit the number of migrants accepted annually.  We can better police the behavior of migrants.  We can even make an effort to address the underlying causes of immigration.

But we must treat migrants humanely.

The Bible instructs us to welcome the stranger and treat him with kindness.  As Christians, we can do no less.

[1]  ProPublica, “Border agent reveals what it’s really like guarding migrant children” by Ginger Thompson, 7/16/19, https://www.propublica.org/article/a-border-patrol-agent-reveals-what-its-really-like-to-guard-migrant-children#164724.

READERS CAN FIND MY VIEWS ON ABUSE AND ABUSE-RELATED ISSUES AT ANNA WALDHERR A Voice Reclaimed, Surviving Child Abuse https://avoicereclaimed.com

25 Comments
  1. The worst of it? These politicians who prefer to posture, pontificate, butt heads and grandstand rather than actually DO anything about this. I understand Catholic charities have taken relief upon themselves and are dispersing as many as they can throughout the country.

  2. Fair treatment Anna. It’s tough for sure. I get that there are precautions we should take and that we have a national right to safety. But if we opt to detain people they have a right to humane conditions. I also think some “Christian ” attitudes toward immigrants might not be as Christian as they think. Notice I said towards immigrants, not towards immigration itself.

    • Immigration is the great challenge of our time. I believe we will be judged by how we treat immigrants.

  3. We spend Billions on relations in the Middle East while we have to focus on our neighbors..
    If we helped Mexico and other country’s who create asylum seekers they could feel safe at home..
    Riches are always misguided and I am sure people would not risk their lives to sneak into America if they had a country were they could earn a decent wage and feel safe..
    On the other side of the coin many coming in are not safe for us because they aim to sell drugs and females..

  4. I must confess that prior to moving to Florida I never gave the issue of immigration a lot of thought. Where I lived in Ohio, I was sheltered from immigrants except for the occasional seasonal workers who came to work in the fields an hour from my home.

    When I moved here, I landed in a place where there are literally hundreds of thousands of immigrants, and if one can believe the evening news, about 800,000 of these are here illegally(in Florida). Entire communities, such as Immokalee, are known as immigrant communities. They are unpretentious, poor, but very proud people who are some of the hardest workers I have ever seen.

    Guess who cuts the lawns when it’s 100 degrees outside with humidity in the high 90’s? Yes, it’s the immigrant. Who picks the fruit and vegetables in those same conditions? Yep, immigrants do. Roofers? The local builders know who to use in these temperatures; the immigrant. I have seen firsthand that the overwhelming majority of them want to work and provide for their families. Something that I myself prided myself on doing before I retired.

    We have a system in this country which permits people to enter legally and eventually become citizens. Is that system so outdated as to be useless? I don’t know the answer. What I do know is that we cannot possibly allow everyone in who wants in because we simply do not have the facilities or the resources to process them. The current situation, as deplorable as it is, is the result of too many trying to come in at the same time(many of whom came because of selfish political motives of our own elected officials). While our politicians point the finger at one another and blame the other party for this mess, lives are being torn apart.

    I surely do not know the answer to this dilemma. How can you stop a horse that is dying of thirst from drinking from a pool of clear, cool water that is on another ranchers property? You cannot, just as we cannot stop those who have almost nothing from wanting to better their lot in life.

    Somehow or another, our elected officials are going to have to come together and find a method which will permit those seeking a better life to enter our country in a systematic, orderly, and legal manner. To continue down our current path is inviting ruin for all concerned.

    America is still the land of opportunity. We have more than enough to go around, in spite of those who say otherwise. We have a Divine mandate to help the poor, and in this hour we need to pray for leaders to arise who have a heart to serve “the least of these”.

  5. Thank you for this important post Anna! I’m sorry that the far right tries to create fear about migrants, even legal ones. Yes we need border security but not the we are doing now.

    • I fear politicians on both ends of the spectrum are using this crisis to their own advantage.

      • I don’t think so. If the left seems to against wrong policies, wrong things done, wrong things said it’s because they need to be. At least attempting to hold the insanity and white nationalism in check. I could be wrong of course. Peace.

      • I agree that inhumane policies and racist rants should be exposed (and opposed). Unfortunately, I do not see that “open borders” would, in the long run, benefit anyone. Nothing else has been put forward by the left, at least not that I am aware. Funding to address the housing shortage for migrants in custody was held up by the Democrats, if I am not mistaken. That, I think, was a matter of grandstanding. You are, of course, entitled to hold a different opinion, Nicodemas.

      • The issue I think is that “the wall” money is always put in with any proposal from the WH. Democrats have said no wall because it is a 5th century solution. There have been proposals from Democrats for border security using technology and humanitarian assistance.

  6. Christians should look at immigration not as a problem but as an opportunity to show love for others and to share the gospel with people who might not have had the opportunity to hear it if they had remained in their own country.

  7. Immigration is one of the biggest issues our nation currently faces. Democrats and Republicans are both failing us. Few of these people are a real threat. But border controls must be enforced and in place.

  8. We have very similar problems in Germany, Anna. I was just reminded of the following commandment of the Old Testament.

    33 “When a stranger sojourns with you in your land, you shall not do him wrong.
    34 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.

    I need to admit that it is not always easy to treat them as a neighbor, esp. when they do not submit to our laws and disturb the peace (particularly in the night). At first I always try to talk with them, which can be a bit difficult as they rarely speak our language. But most of the times they try to understand that our way of living is very different from theirs. So, what we need to do is to talk with them, not to talk about them as politicians do. It is not about who is right or who is wrong, it is about showing them the love we have received from God. If they are refugees indeed, do we think it was easy for them to leave their country? 🙄 It is always hard, particularly when they are older people. Young foreigners often hope to find better possibilites to study, to earn money and to be no longer oppressed. But for older people it is very hard to be uprooted. 😦

  9. PS
    The Scripture can be found in Lev 19:33-34 ESV.

  10. Susanne and Anna, the problem here is the difference between how we treat an individual who God has placed into our lives, “a stranger who sojourns with you in your land,” to care for them in their time of need and what we do when there is an invasion of millions who force their way into our country (overwhelming our boarders with caravans) and bypass the laws that have been put in place to keep these numbers of immigrants manageable for the safety and well being of all concerned.

    In 2 Kings 15-23 we read about a story where Israel was invaded by an army of Syrians and Elisha and his servant were surrounded by them at Dothan. Did Elisha call fire down from heaven and destroy them all? No, but he did call out to God to blind them so that they could be managed. He then led them into the to Samaria and prayed for their sight to be restored again. Here they greatly feared, being outnumbered. He then told the king of Israel to have mercy on them feed them and then send them back to the nation they came from. He did so and the Syrians never invaded Israel again.

    Whether it is an individual that needs help or whether there is an invasion of helpless people, God would have us show mercy, but there is no mandate in the Bible to house and care for an invasion on a permanent basis. There is also no scriptural mandate to tear down the protective walls around cities and boarders and allow hoards of foreigners to come and go as they please. Even the New Jerusalem spoken of in Revelation has its walls and gates for a reason.

    And I saw no temple in the city, for its temple is the Lord God the Almighty and the Lamb. And the city has no need of sun or moon to shine on it, for the glory of God gives it light, and its lamp is the Lamb. By its light will the nations walk, and the kings of the earth will bring their glory into it, and its gates will never be shut by day—and there will be no night there. They will bring into it the glory and the honor of the nations. But nothing unclean will ever enter it, nor anyone who does what is detestable or false, but only those who are written in the Lamb’s book of life.” (Rev 21:22-27, ESV)

    • I am not an advocate of “open borders”, Michael. Perhaps I did not make that clear.

      • Anna, your reply shocked me. I meant to address this immigration issue as a whole with what I wrote and not to make it something personal. Please forgive me. Feel free to delete it if you think best.

        Your friend in Christ,
        Michael

      • Michael, I always appreciate your insights. You consistently seek biblical guidance. However, we all must act from conscience, and our experiences differ. Since my own parents and grandparents were refugees following WWII, I have great sympathy for refugees. My family came here legally, and had to wait years for admission. But factors beyond their control can make people refugees. Ours is a nation God has greatly blessed. It is not surprising that those in need would come to our doors. Of course, we must guard against terrorism, drug trafficking, and human trafficking. That should not prevent us from treating refugees humanely while their applications are processed. That is the point I was trying to make.

        Your sister in Christ,
        Anna ❤

  11. I have been involved with helping some refugees enter the country legally, and I only wish something could be done to speed up the process.

    I share your concern for children, who don’t have much choice in what’s being done with them. One thing we MUST do is make sure the adults who are bringing children across the border are truly their parents. Otherwise, once children are brought into the country by traffickers, it is nearly impossible to find and rescue them.

    As I have seen it, the Bible has two main teachings regarding immigrants: 1. God’s people must treat the foreigner with compassion and every consideration they would give to anyone else. 2. The foreigner is expected to obey the laws of the land they now live in.

    • I do not disagree. Of course, the vast majority of illegal immigrants are not human traffickers. And the citizens of a country are, also, required to obey its laws.

      Unfortunately, we do not effectively enforce the laws prohibiting employers from engaging illegal immigrants.
      If we did — something not viewed as politically expedient — the flow of illegals would greatly decrease. This way, politicians can conveniently label illegals as “the other” (and continue to blame them for our ills), while employers benefit from their labor in the dirtiest of jobs at below market wages. There is a certain hypocrisy in that.

      The other biblical principle that, I think, applies has to do w/ the Christian obligation to the poor. The overwhelming majority of illegal immigrants are desperately poor and/or seeking to escape violence in their countries of origin. We cannot as Christians ignore that fact, however inconvenient it may be.

      That does not mean we must throw caution to the winds, and institute “open borders”. A more thoughtful and nuanced immigration policy is though needed. Tragically, I see little or no chance either party will establish such a policy.

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