Tomorrow, the House of Representatives will hold its first hearing on immigration policy of the new Congress, signaling that leaders in the House may be as eager to address the topic as those in the Senate or the White House. For the last several years, Congress has done almost nothing to address immigration, but in light of the results of November’s elections, “the parties are now competing to share credit for doing something big.”
Having worked to challenge Christians to champion more welcoming treatment of immigrants for many years, this is very encouraging, and I’m very hopeful. But I’m also cognizant of what happened last time there seemed to be strong bipartisan momentum for immigration reform in 2007, when Republican President George W. Bush declared reform one of his top priorities and many members of Congress in both parties seemed poised to cooperate. When Congress began debating the bill put forward by a bipartisan group of Senators, their offices were overwhelmed by telephone calls from those demanding that they vote against “amnesty.” (Never mind that the bill in question proposed fining undocumented immigrants as much as $5,000 per person as a prerequisite to earning legal status, hardly the free grace and forgiveness of “amnesty”).
Many, if not most, of those calls were mobilized by groups such as NumbersUSA and the Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR). And I’m embarrassed to acknowledge that many of them probably came from evangelical Christians like me. Most of them likely did not realize that they were allying with groups whose values they probably did not share.
You see, as I’ve written here previously and as the pro-life Human Life Review documents thoroughly in a recent article that I would encourage all pro-life Christians to read thoroughly, NumbersUSA and FAIR are actually population control groups. They were founded by an individual who accepts the Malthusian concern that the earth (and the U.S., specifically) is becoming overpopulated, and he’s created and funneled money to various groups that advocate lower numbers of migration to the U.S. as well as to groups that seek to decrease the birth rate. After all, there are two ways that a given country’s population can grow, either by birth or by immigration, and the founder of these organizations has sought to limit both. As the Human Life Review’s article notes, FAIR’s board of directors has included various people associated with Planned Parenthood, the nation’s largest provider of abortions, as well as individuals who think that China’s one-child forced abortion policy is “not strict enough” and who believe it is “unfortunate” that India has not adapted its own such policy to limit population growth.
I am not suggesting that everyone associated with these organizations shares their views on abortion. To the contrary, I suspect that most of the people that they mobilize have no idea that they are unwittingly receiving (often false) information and taking marching orders from groups whose views run counter to their values. But taking marching orders they are, nevertheless, which is why Republican Members of Congress who have quietly been working to forge a bipartisan agreement for immigration reform as well as those on the Judiciary Committee who have expressed any degree of openness to reform are, at this moment, being bombarded with antagonistic phone calls, faxes, and emails. NumbersUSA and FAIR hope that—as in 2007—legislators will be intimidated by the illusion of a furious constituency and back off from pursuing the reforms that our nation desperately needs.
There are four simple things that you can do to help ensure that our legislators have the courage to keep moving forward:
1) Share the Human Life Review article by Mario Lopez on “Hijacking Immigration” with anyone you know who would consider themselves strongly pro-life: email it to your friends, post it on Facebook wall, tweet the link, print it out and give it to your relatives.(You can also spread the word by simply clicking the Facebook “recommend” button at the top of this blog post).
2) Call your Congressperson and ask them to please push for just, compassionate
immigration reform. That’s particularly urgent if your Members of Congress happens to be any of the following:
Rep. Sam Johnson (TX-3, including Plano, McKinney, and other parts of north suburban Dallas, Texas)
Telephone: (202) 225-4201
Rep. Bob Goodlatte (VA-6, including Harrisonburg, Lynchburg, and Roanoke, Virginia)
Telephone: (202) 225-5431
Rep. Trey Gowdy (SC-4, including Spartanburg and Greenville, South Carolina)
Telephone: (202) 225-6030
Rep. Ted Poe (TX-2, including much of suburban Houston, Texas)
Telephone: (202) 225-6565
Rep. Raul Labrador (ID-1, including all of western Idaho, including parts of Boise)
Telephone: (202) 225-6611
Rep. John Carter (TX-31, between Austin and Waco, Texas)
Telephone: (202) 225-3864
3) Send a tweet to the Members of Congress listed above (their Twitter handles are listed), asking them to join you in taking part in the “I Was a Stranger” Challenge, reading forty days’ worth of Scripture so as to allow God’s living word to inform how we think about immigrants and immigration policy. For example, you could copy and paste this:
4. Pray for these legislators, and for your own Representative and Senators, that God would give them wisdom and courage.
I just did all four of these things—including calling and tweeting at all six of these legislators—and timed myself: it took me fifteen minutes. Do you have fifteen minutes to spare to help keep immigration reform alive?
Matthew Soerens is the co-author of Welcoming the Stranger: Justice, Compassion & Truth in the Immigration Debate (InterVarsity Press, 2009) and the US Church Training Specialist at World Relief. His blogs appear here on Mondays.
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