Let me say from the start, that I know a lot of people – including many of my friends – will be upset with what I am going to say here. Some because they will think I have gone too far. Others, because they will think I have not gone far enough.
I want to tell you a story about a neighbor; let’s call him Jose. That’s not his name, but that’s what we’ll call him. Jose is in his early 40s, a good husband and loving father. He is a roofer, pays his taxes, and works hard for a living, frequently putting in very long days on brutally hot roofs.
And Jose is in this country illegally.
When he was a baby, his parents brought him and his siblings across the border – illegally. Eventually, his parents and his brother and sisters were able to get their status changed and become American citizens. Unfortunately (I think because of some paperwork errors), their new status did not apply to him, and so he remained illegal.
Jose eventually learned English, got married, got a good job, and began raising his family. Then he was caught in a surprise raid at a job site, and deported. He found out that even though he was technically a Mexican citizen, because he had been taken out of that country while still a baby, there was no record of him being born there, or ever living in Mexico, and so he couldn’t get any kind of paperwork from that government, and had no legal status there. As far as that country was concerned, he did not exist.
He came back to America, determined to get through whatever bureaucracy he had to in order to become a legalized citizen. But before he could make that happen, he got caught again. And deported again.
So now, because he has been deported twice, he is permanently ineligible for citizenship.
I have lost track of Jose. The last I heard, he had gotten back across the border, and was back with his family. But I don’t know any more than that.
I don’t know if the rule changes announced last week will apply to him or not. I hope they do. I do know that a family has been torn apart, and a good man caught in a political mess, mostly through no fault of his own.
So there’s a lot I don’t know. I’ll tell you what I DO know, and what I do think.
I know that we must have better security on the border. We obviously have to be vigilant against terrorists coming across. We cannot have open borders, and I know we cannot have programs that promise citizenship to anyone who can find their way across.
On the other hand, I know we must not allow ourselves to be swallowed up in the “climate of unreasoning fear” which now seems to grip our country. We must not be so anti-immigrant that we forget that very few of those of us now living here now, had families who were here when the Pilgrims landed.
I think we need to remember that the overwhelming majority of illegal immigrants are NOT like the headline-grabbers who make the news and are taking benefits they are not entitled to. In my experience, the illegals I have known pay their taxes, don’t take any benefits, get taken advantage of by their bosses and landlords. They mind their own business, and live in constant fear of being caught and deported.
I agree with President Reagan, who said in 1984, “I believe in the idea of amnesty for those who have put down roots here and have lived here, even though sometime back they may have entered illegally.”
I know that over and over again, God urges His people to care for the alien, the widow, the orphan – to plead the case of the defenseless, to care for those in distress. I know that those scriptures still apply.
And I’ll tell what else I think. I think if it was a bunch of blonde-haired, blue-eyed Canadians sneaking across the border into Montana or North Dakota, we’d be having a different conversation.