Screen Shot 2014-07-17 at 12.59.24 PMMatt Walsh is a good writer and a bombastic type that “makes you think” – I appreciate his writings for that. However, his recent post “Isn’t it mean and hateful to deport illegal immigrants?” is a case showing that he is misinformed on many dynamics related to immigration. I also disagree with the USA-centric view of the Kingdom of God he portrays in this post (especially since he doesn’t use such verbiage elsewhere.)

I could itemize perhaps a dozen problems I have with this post, but let me just start where he starts and end where he ends to get the conversation started:

1) Walsh starts by addressing: “Dear confused Americans who advocate for open borders…”

This is a straw man argument, because there is almost NOBODY arguing for open borders. That would be nutso. Examine the legislation that has been voted on by the Senate and also those principles expressed by the Evangelical Immigration Table and the Republican Principle of Reform (by the House) and you’ll see a strengthening of the boarders immensely. And this would all be on top of quadrupling of funding for border security under Bush and a tripling under Obama.

For evangelicals like me, Immigration Reform is not about open borders, it’s about having an open mind to the larger sweeping reforms and solutions that will make border security sustainable. For evangelicals like me, Immigration Reform not about open borders, it’s about having an open heart because while immigration is an issue Immigrants Are People!

2) Walsh closes by saying: “let’s concentrate on granting human rights to our own kids before we worry about granting citizenship to kids across the globe.”

Nobody is arguing to “grant citizenship to kids across the globe” like some kind of random USA citizenship lottery (although our current bizarre laws include a lottery system for some legal entries, not including central or south americans.) Nor is anyone arguing that we neglect human rights for our own kids because of this reform… this is a weak argument and ludicrous on it’s face value. In the current Unaccompanied Children crisis, we are talking about caring for the child in crisis, like the man on the side of the Jericho road, as Russell Moore pointed out so well in his recent article on this. And in reform efforts we are seeking to work on the whole culture that creates the Jericho Road problem. Like Rev Dr King used to say, sometimes you need to fix the whole road for the long term, not just be a good samaritan in the short term:

“On the one hand we are called to play the good Samaritan on life’s roadside; but that will be only an initial act. One day we must come to see that the whole Jericho road must be transformed so that men and women will not be constantly beaten and robbed as they make their journey on life’s highway. True compassion is more than flinging a coin to a beggar; it is not haphazard and superficial. It comes to see that an edifice which produces beggars needs restructuring.”

-Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. in the sermon, “A Time to Break Silence,” deliver at at Riverside Church

That’s why evangelicals are taking the reigns to provide relief and advocate for reform, as my friend Gabe Salguero pointed out so well with Time Magazine this week. That’s why I have many friends who have run off to the border areas to help, and why others have gone to Washington to try to get our leaders to see a compassionate, commonsense way forward on this. Many of those people are the same people, helping the one at the side of the road and also working on the whole broken road system of Immigration in the USA.

Beyond all this I’m unsure of the theology Walsh seems to offer that prioritizes the children of Americans over those in other countries. That might make for good American politics, but it makes for bad missiology. What’s more, the goals of immigration reform in general are not to mail fill in the blank USA passports to Pakistan. Instead, the goals, at least among Evangelical leaders in the aforementioned Table like myself, are simple:

As evangelical Christian leaders, we call for a bipartisan solution on immigration that:

a) Respects the God-given dignity of every person
b) Protects the unity of the immediate family
c) Respects the rule of law
d) Guarantees secure national borders
e) Ensures fairness to taxpayers
f) Establishes a path toward legal status and/or citizenship for those who qualify and who wish to become permanent residents

All that to say, I think Walsh’s article barely scratches the surface, and while he claims it is “simple” he oversimplifies in doing so and in fact, he might be contributing to a disrespect of the dignity of these children, a continued situation where the rule of law is unenforceable, and a narrow-minded simplistic approach that will never guarantee secure national borders but will instead just propagate the status quo.

For what I think is a more balanced and biblically-informed view of immigration see the Wesleyan statement from 2008 which passed with 96% of the vote at our General Conference… see it by clicking here.

What do you think of Walsh’s post, mine here, or the Wesleyan view of immigration put forth in the linked post?


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