The current administration of Donald Trump has pushed for a tighter control on immigration as a major policy focus. From the building of “the wall” between Mexico and the United States to a travel ban on refugees and visitors from certain Muslim based countries, it seems that we are attempting to make it extremely difficult for someone to come to the United States, even though for some of them it is a case of life or death as they are fleeing wars, gang violence and famine.
The following is an article that summarizes the ban and what it means for refugees attempting to enter the United States.
It’s important to note that the ban has been stayed by the federal courts at this time, though the Trump administration vows to fight back to get the ban enforced.
The theological issue at hand is whether or not we are morally obligated to assist and welcome those refugees to our country. Being a relatively young country, it is safe to say that unless you are of Native American descent that more than likely your family immigrated to the United States at some point during the last 300 years. Or you may actually be a visitor from another country on a student visa.
From Dei Verbum we have learned that God’s intent has been made clear to us in the teachings of the bible. Dei Verbum also recognized the need to make God’s word available to ALL people, in all languages so that they might read and understand God’s wish for humanity. Some of the bible verses that seem applicable to our responsibility to help those in need, especially foreigners, are below:
“‘For I was hungry, and you gave Me something to eat; I was thirsty, and you gave Me something to drink; I was a stranger, and you invited Me in; naked, and you clothed Me; I was sick, and you visited Me; I was in prison, and you came to Me.’Then the righteous will answer Him, ‘Lord, when did we see You hungry, and feed You, or thirsty, and give You something to drink? And when did we see You a stranger, and invite You in, or naked, and clothe You? When did we see You sick, or in prison, and come to You?’ The King will answer and say to them, ‘Truly I say to you, to the extent that you did it to one of these brothers of Mine, even the least of them, you did it to Me’” (Matthew 25:35-40)
Do not oppress a foreigner; you yourselves know how it feels to be foreigners, because you were foreigners in Egypt. (Exodus 23:9)
“As for the foreigner who does not belong to your people Israel but has come from a distant land because of your name— for they will hear of your great name and your mighty hand and your outstretched arm—when they come and pray toward this temple, then hear from heaven, your dwelling place. Do whatever the foreigner asks of you, so that all the peoples of the earth may know your name and fear you, as do your own people Israel, and may know that this house I have built bears your Name. (1 Kings 8:41-44)
Also, we read last week in the Book of Matthew that Jesus and his parents fled persecution from King Herod and received sanctuary in Egypt from their oppressor. Are we not obligated to likewise offer sanctuary?
Is our immigration process too onerous for those desiring to enter and live in the United States?
Do we have a moral obligation as a country to accept immigrants fleeing from war torn countries or famine?
Does the separation of church and state remove any such moral obligation to us as individuals?