In the current political debates and ever-present discussion about illegal immigration, I often hear adamantly expressed phrases like “I do not support amnesty.” While politicians span the whole gamut of proposed solutions to the immigration issue, they all vociferously distance themselves from any accusation of granting amnesty.
From a Christian perspective, I ask myself whether amnesty is really such a grave mistake. After all, isn’t amnesty the same thing as mercy? Our whole belief system is built on the cornerstone of God’s mercy toward us.
I realize that the United States of America is not God’s kingdom, and we can’t expect Washington to abide by the same principles believers are called to. But as we Christians examine immigration—especially in this time as laws are being passed and elections are on the horizon—we ought to maintain a proper perspective. We can do so by remembering the “amnesty” we have received.
Gospel amnesty forgives all sinners. There is no sliding scale, no varying degree of punishment or pardon. Furthermore, it requires nothing from us in return. Upon receiving God’s free gift of salvation through Christ, nothing we do can bring us into, or out of, His favor.
On the other hand, a comprehensive immigration reform would reward a select number. Undocumented immigrants who do not have criminal charges would be given Lawful Prospective Immigrant status, granting them permission to live and work in the U.S. temporarily, though the wait time for lawful permanent residency would be many years. Additionally, they must earn the right to stay by paying fees and taking English and citizenship classes.
If we ignore our American bias towards fairness and merit, I believe we’d see the reasonableness of such a reform. And if we believers would reflect on the incredible mercy we’ve been given, just maybe we would take a stance on the behalf of immigrants—or at the minimum consider that amnesty (forgiveness) may not be such a bad thing.
Our existing immigration system is riddled with problems and every proposed solution comes with its set of challenges. Any attempt at immigration reform will have drawbacks, but if we must err, let’s err on the side of mercy.
“To the Lord our God belong mercy and forgiveness, for we have rebelled against him.” (Daniel 9:9)
Iris Clement, a graduate of Lee University, works in North Carolina as an English as a Second Language instructor. She grew up in Romania as the daughter of Campus Crusade for Christ missionaries and recently spent a year teaching in Colombia as a Fulbright grantee. She is involved in local ministry to Latino families.
Please note that the views expressed do not necessarily represent those of everyone associated with G92 or any institutions with which the blogger may be affiliated.
If you’re interested in writing a guest blog, contact [email protected].