The Supreme Court’s decision to strike down key provisions of Arizona’s immigration law last month has roiled the American government on a federal and state level. Many progressive immigration officials at the federal level have considered the judicial ruling a win while Arizona government officials have faulted the current administration for its inability to address America’s immigration problem with sweeping legislation. While the back-and-forth between the left and right will surely continue with no end in sight, there are some important questions that Americans—but particular American Christians—should contemplate in the meantime.
1) Do I hold particular convictions that influence my perspective on immigration? What are they and where did they come from?
Often, when sensitive issues like immigration are debated the conversation can quickly become charged with emotion. Although people do not always flatly express their convictions (or political persuasion for that matter) concerning immigration, they do, however, naturally possess deeply held opinions that inform their perspective. The root of these convictions could likely be traced back to one’s parents or perhaps an encounter with a person of a different cultural background. Whatever the case may be, contemplating the fundamental basis of one’s perspective on immigration is of critical importance. The ability to meaningfully articulate the content of our heart is what makes substantive debate possible.
2) What cultural realities or attitudes enable a resistance to multiculturalism?
Some of you reading this question are shouting, “Illegal immigration, that’s what!” But let’s set aside the legality aspect of this argument recognizing that immigration to the United States is an increasingly common and inevitable phenomenon. Consider, instead, the racial prejudices that still persist in American society and her institutions. There are still discernible differences between a person’s access to quality education, affordable housing, employment opportunities, and healthcare across racial lines. Granted, the reasons for these disparities are complex, but their mere existence conveys the incomplete status of racial equality in the United States.
Certainly, xenophobic attitudes still exist in the hearts of Americans today. Unfortunately, this fear of the unknown often culminates into a fundamental resistance to measures of inclusivity or cultural integration. Christians are not immune to this disposition. They, too, must humbly recognize the wrongness of an attitude that excludes others whom the Lord has deep affection for. The admittance of racial prejudice is a particularly difficult feat for Americans in today’s day and age who cite the evolution of American federal law throughout the second half of the twentieth century as the culminating solution to racial injustice in the United States.
If you still do not believe that these issues linger in today’s society, let me submit to you that this evil will not be completely erased from the human heart, and thus, human society on this side of eternity. Therefore, if you exhibited any degree of sensitivity to racial injustice it would be regarded as remarkably humble, loving, and an evidence of your eternal hope in Christ.
3) How can your perspective on immigration reflect the compassion of Jesus Christ most vividly?
There is no point along the spectrum of opinion concerning immigration whereby the Christian is not obligated to exhibit the compassion of the Lord Jesus Christ. No matter what political persuasion one subscribes to, the fact remains that Christians must interact with others in a way that is radically compassionate. Naturally, this includes the immigrant, who unfortunately incurs persecution for no reason other than his or her skin tone. Regardless of where you stand on the issue if immigration, be most concerned with conveying the compassion and gentleness of Christ towards all people you may encounter.
Jeremy Browning is a senior at Wheaton College in Wheaton, Illinois. He serves as president of the student body and will graduate with a degree in Business Economics and a minor in International Relations. He is a native of Detroit, Michigan.
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