The recent passage of the new law in Arizona is a cry for help from the citizens of a state made desperate by the federal government’s shameful and flagrant dereliction of its duty to control the nation’s borders and to enforce its laws. This is manifestly a federal responsibility and the U. S. government has failed in its responsibilities to its citizens under both Democratic and Republican administrations.The Arizona law is a symptom, not a solution. While I sympathize with the plight of the beleaguered citizens of Arizona, the law they have passed faces severe challenges. Attorneys I trust and respect tell me that if the law survives the manifold court challenges it faces and goes into effect, it will be abused by genuinely bad people (like drug dealers and human traffickers) whose unscrupulous lawyers will claim falsely that they were victims of racial profiling and prejudice when they were arrested legitimately.
Neither of the extreme solutions of deportation or amnesty are appropriate, workable solutions. To force those who are here illegally to leave is neither politically viable nor humanitarian. To offer “amnesty” to those who broke the immigration laws of our country is disrespectful of the rule of law. What is needed is a solution that respects the rule of law while at the same time treats undocumented immigrants compassionately.
As Christians, we must think through the question of illegal immigration not only as concerned citizens, but also as compassionate Christians. As citizens of the United States we have a right to expect the government to fulfill its divinely ordained mandate to punish those who break the law and to reward those who do not (Rom.13:1-7).
As citizens of the heavenly kingdom (the church), we also have a divine mandate to act redemptively and compassionately toward those in need. Jesus commanded us to love our neighbors as ourselves (Matt. 22:39) and to do unto others as we would have them do unto us (Matt. 7:12). Our Lord instructed His followers to meet the needs of those who are suffering (Matt. 25: 31-36). The writer of the Book of Hebrews instructed his readers to “show hospitality to strangers” (Heb. 13:2).