“I was a stranger, and you welcomed me.” —Matthew 25:35
I recently had the privilege of joining other members of G92 in attending the Americans for Reform lobby day in Washington, D.C. Although the 600 attendees represented interests from a variety of fields, we all had one thing in common: All of us knew that our broken immigration system needed to be fixed immediately. So on an unseasonably warm Tuesday morning, we split into teams to attend a collective 150 meetings with mostly Republican Representatives, asking them to ask Speaker Boehner to bring an immigration reform bill to a vote this year.
All of the Representatives I met with that day—both Democrat and Republican Illinois Representatives—voiced support for immigration reform. They agreed that it is necessary for a number of reasons, ranging from practical to economic to moral. However, some seemed resistant to the idea of passing immigration reform all at once; they advocated for a “piecemeal” approach, in which various parts of the current Senate bill are debated and passed one at a time, starting with increased border security and then moving on to the more “reform-heavy” aspects. Others said that they wanted to wait until 2015 to pass immigration reform.
Essentially, what I heard from these Representatives was “Yes…but wait.” I understand that immigration reform is still a politically contentious issue for some people; however, it is not an issue on which we can “wait” any longer. And more importantly, it is not an issue on which we as Christ-followers can allow our Congressmen to wait.
Be it this year or next, there is no question that immigration reform will be passed. I know and believe this because I know and believe that our God is just, and immigration reform is a matter of justice. The question, rather, is what will the Church do?
Will we, the Church, stand by complacently as 11 million people live in fear every day? As undocumented parents are torn away from their American-born children, as our neighbors are dehumanized and slandered, and as human traffickers prey upon undocumented immigrants desperately seeking a better life for themselves and their families? Or will we answer God’s call to stand up for those who are marginalized, and to love the stranger who dwells among us? Will we quietly accept things as they are, or will we boldly speak truth into the echelons of power?
Knowing that whatever we do to the least of these, we do to Jesus Himself, will we close the door in the face of the stranger, or will we invite him (and Him) in?
The fact of the matter is that either by our action or our inaction, immigration will both define and reflect the heart of the Church. It will reveal the content of our character, and it will set a precedent as to how the Church responds to systematic injustice. Moreover, it will reveal whether we have truly loved our neighbors—and thereby, whether we have truly loved our God. So we must ask, how do we want to be defined? And when we examine the Church—and ourselves—what sort of heart do we want to see?
Let us find within the Church a heart defined by Christ’s love and justice. Let us cry out as one, and declare that we are ready for our broken, unjust immigration laws to be reformed. Please take a moment to call, write, or email your Representative and tell him that you are ready for immigration reform, and why. Then, ask him to ask Speaker Boehner to bring immigration reform to a vote this year. As Christ-followers, let us tell Congress that justice can wait no longer.
Linda Fleener is the blog editor of G92 and a student at Wheaton College, where she is studying political science. She hopes to use her degree to go into social justice advocacy to speak for those who cannot speak for themselves.
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.
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