Back in the day, I was a newspaper reporter. I covered the police beat in a small town. Part of my job was to go to the local State Police Post every morning and get an update. They called me CNN–Charity News Network.
Today I am going to revive my title for just a few moments. I am going to try and tell a story that isn’t fully mine to tell, but needs to be said. Needs to be said.
I read a lot of Facebook and in the news about immigration as we all do. Sometimes I scroll past, sometimes I stop. The times I am most likely to stop? When someone claims to have the Bible on their side. Yeah. Especially when someone suggests people read the Bible to learn about immigration but are in the same post espousing things that are very un-Biblical.
The Bible does talk about immigration. It sure does.
“You shall not wrong a sojourner or oppress him, for you were sojourners in the land of Egypt.”
Here, he was speaking to the Israelites. They had started as refugees during the famine throughout the land. God had put Joseph in charge of the food that had been saved in Egypt due dreams God had given Pharoah that there would be 7 good years followed by 7 years of famine. Joseph had interpreted the dream for Pharoah and the ruler had put him in charge of getting the nation ready and through the famine. Joseph moved his father and brothers to Egypt after they were reunited. They lived there in peace as immigrants for many years until a new Pharoah came who didn’t give a care that Joseph had saved his nation; in the meantime, the number of Israelites had grown exponentially and the Pharoah decided to enslave them. After many, many years, God brought the Israelites out of Egypt and the above verse is just one time God told the Israelites to treat immigrants well.
“You shall not oppress a sojourner. You know the heart of a sojourner, for you were sojourners in the land of Egypt.
He doesn’t say, treat them well if they make your life better or if everyone you know has a good job and everything they could ever need or want. No, that isn’t in there. He simply says not to oppress because you know what it is like.
The Old Testament is not the only place we find the plight of the immigrant addressed. Jesus himself was a refugee. After He was born the wise men came and told Herod they wanted to worship the newborn king. Well, this ticked off Herod. He didn’t want another king around. Keeping those Israelites, who were once again being oppressed, in line was hard enough…what if they thought there was a new king for them? So, Herod decided to kill all the baby boys 2 and under just to make sure he got this newborn king the wise men had asked about. But, God told Jesus’ earthly [stand in] father Joseph that they should flee to Egypt, kind of ironic, huh, to keep Jesus safe.
Now when they had departed, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream and said, “Rise, take the child and his mother, and flee to Egypt, and remain there until I tell you, for Herod is about to search for the child, to destroy him.”
There are many more examples. You can find them by searching sojourner in the English Standard Bible. You’ll find them, but you won’t find, care for them IF they have valuable skills to bring to you, IF they are appreciative enough, IF they speak flawless English, IF, IF, IF…
Now, I am not advocating open borders. A vetting process is wise. But telling people to be patient through a 10+ year process is arrogant and ill-informed.
People do not leave their homes and everything they have ever known with little to no chance of ever returning because it sounds like a good opportunity or it seems fun. They go because they can’t stay where they are. The go because of bombs, chemical warfare, total economic desolation, persecution. They go to save their children, their lives.
And most of them never get to a stable living situation. Many never get out of a refugee camp. Only 1/2 of 1% of people in refugee camps end up resettled in a new country. And before any of them come they are thoroughly vetted, particularly refugees…they are vetted before they are considered for resettlement and then they are vetted another 8 times by US federal agencies if they are selected to come to the USA. They do not choose which country they will go to and they do not know when they will be going. There is no planning something evil, there is survival. There is praying you are safe while you wait for a new home, there is fear, there is uncertainty. And there is no way of knowing what life will be like when you arrive in a new home country. There is accepting a whole new role in life. You may have been highly educated and/or financially successful in your country of origin, but in your new country, you are starting all over.
Are they thankful to be settled in a new location, yes. Would they rather be back home in a safe world surrounded by their loved ones, language, and culture, by and large, yes.
People are considered for immigration based on many criteria.
There are a number of classifications of immigrant within America’s legal immigration process. There is a naturalized citizen, lawful permanent resident, conditional permanent resident, self-petitioner, special immigrant juvenile status, refugee, asylum seeker, non-immigrant temporary visas, victim of trafficking in persons, and crime victim or witness. How, when, and where you apply is just the beginning of the process.
There is so much more to cover concerning immigrants that I think it would be best to continue this discussion another day but I would like to conclude with this thought. Coming to the US borders, South, North, East or West and requesting asylum is 100% legal. Having large numbers come at once may be overwhelming and difficult, but that does not make it illegal. Not at all. Not in the least. So consider that the next time you want to talk about illegal immigrants. If you are talking about a caravan coming, you are using the wrong term. They are not illegal and are not illegal if they are allowed to come in. If you are talking about the lady in a hijab or the gardener who speaks Bangla…you have no idea of their status. You have no idea if their papers are all in order and carried with them everywhere just in case someone gives them a hard time or maybe they were born here. You don’t know. You don’t know if they are receiving public assistance. And even if you talk to them and find out they are refugees but they don’t “sound” like they have fled a war, believe me, you won’t know until they trust you enough to tell you.
You won’t know until they trust you enough to tell you.
(Information taken from the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees website, Immigration and the State Courts Initiative as well as personal interaction with refugees)
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