Harry R. Jackson, Jr.

Last Friday, I was ushered into the Washington studios of the FOX Network to respond to a special segment of the O’Reilly Factor which described a new immigration reform campaign called the “Sanctuary Movement.” Based on a movement that challenged United States policy in Central America in the 1980s, several religious congregations in New York and other cities announced a campaign last Wednesday to provide sanctuary to illegal immigrants who face deportation. I stated that I didn’t agree with either the biblical or political reasoning behind this movement. The acts of civil disobedience involved in offering sanctuary for illegal aliens seem to have an overt political motivation.

This week, the Senate plans to explore the issue of immigration once again. Although the nation remains divided over this issue, the all-knowing leadership of the Washington elite is pushing to give the resemblance of progress. Both religious and political liberals want to rush the process of arriving at workable solutions to this complex problem. I, however, believe that the nation should slow down and develop the correct approach to this multi-faceted challenge. We need to discuss this more. The average American does not understand the complexity of the immigration process or the implications of major structural change to the way things are currently being done. I am saddened by the pain of deportation. In fact, I have had several members of my local congregation deported during the last decade, yet I maintain that the problems of immigration must be solved with both compassion and wisdom. Both our hearts and our heads must be engaged in fixing this problem

Immigration is the second most important issue of the next two years - after the War in Iraq. The reason for its importance is five-fold:

1. The cost of many American products and services will go up as “illegals” are prosecuted or given amnesty.

2. Domestic security can be breached by Al Quaeda and other groups.

3. Hardened criminals and gang members are crossing the borders along with eager workers seeking a better life.

4. The availability of meaningful work for minorities and other Americans at the lower end of the economic spectrum will shift dramatically based upon the direction taken.

5. A dynamic increase in the number of Hispanic voters could shift the balance of power in U.S. politics.

Harry R. Jackson, Jr.

Bishop Harry Jackson is chairman of the High Impact Leadership Coalition and senior pastor of Hope Christian Church in Beltsville, MD, and co-authored, Personal Faith, Public Policy [FrontLine; March 2008] with Tony Perkins, president of the Family Research Council.