On this date when this blog article is posted, the following article is the big news of the day, sparking much discussion and controversy.
I’m of two minds about this news.
First, as a nation of laws and of a constitution that describes a separation of powers this troubles me. On the law said, the message this seems to give is that people who break the law and come here illegally with their kids only need to hide long enough for a friendly administration to take notice and then reward their patience. While this policy only applies to residents currently in the country, it could set precident. Add to that essentially the executive branch circumventing the elected congress and enacting what is effectively a new law simply by an act of “decree” rather than by the legislative process and now we have a problem on the constitutional level.
However, as a compassionate follower of Christ, I also see the intent behind this policy. The limitations placed in this policy clearly outlines this to apply to children brought here under the age of 16 by their relatives who are upstanding people, acting essentially as good citizens (even if they aren’t so officially), and applying a policy of grace so they do not have to feel the penalty that their elders’ wrongdoing requires. It is welcoming and gracious and merciful, much like Jesus.
My fear: That there will be no real reform to follow to make such measures unnecessary. That there will continue to be unfairly enforced laws where those desperate people who wish to come here cannot because of the immense paperwork trail and fees required leaving them no recourse but to break the law, while those with “connections” in the halls of power manage to find their paths greased through either legally or through shady means. That the only way for people who are simply seeking new lives in a new country is for them to break the law and live in fear rather than find a country that truly welcomes with words like:
Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free, the wretched refuse of your teeming shore. Send these, the homeless, tempest-tossed to me
What is the answer for US Jesus Followers?
I don’t think there is an easy answer. We are called to be compassionate and merciful, but we are also called to be good citizens in the land where we sojourn. Where do we draw the line for acting justly according to the Kingdom of God and allowing the state to keep the order for which it was established?
Wish I knew… God help us as we try to live in these confusing times.
Edit 6/15/2012 1:28 PM: Here’s another person’s attempt to wrestle with this.
Edit 6/15/2012 3:42 PM: Another consideration that adds a twist is that this is a presidential election year and the incumbant is struggling to maintain his base. The timing seems suspicious in light of the context.