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Taking another look at immigration reform

By Scott Tibbs, March 8, 2013

A lot of the talk about immigration reform is about the political impact of it and how embracing or rejecting reform will impact the chances for Republicans to win elections, but little time is spent on discussing the actual policy merits of it and the moral implications of immigration policy. This is unfortunate because the political ramifications should be a very distant second to discerning what the right thing to do is on this matter.

The first thing to do is look to Scripture. God commands the nation of Israel in Leviticus 19:34 that the "stranger that dwelleth with you" must be treated well, because the Israelites were strangers in the land of Egypt. This means that immigrants - including those who came here illegally - must be treated with respect, and that we must be merciful to them. Unfortunately, this Biblical principle is ignored far too often by the conservative side in the immigration debate.

Now, this does not mean that we need to allow anyone and everyone to come into the country with no limitations on immigration. We certainly need reasonable controls and limits on immigration, for a number of legitimate reasons. Clearly, we need to control our borders, because a country that cannot control its borders is not fulfilling its responsibilities on national security. But we can do this in a way that is humane, respectful and merciful.

It is also clear that we should respect the rule of law, as we see in Romans 13. Illegal immigrants are breaking the law, knowingly and intentionally. (With some exceptions, which I will address next.) We should make it clear that we welcome people into our great melting pot, but that they are required to obey the civil magistrate and come in an orderly manner.

One of the places where we obviously need reform is in how we deal with the children of illegal immigrants. People brought here as children and grow up here are in many cases Americans in every way except for paperwork. Does it make sense to deport them to what is for all intents and purposes a foreign country to them? The way we implement reform on this issue needs to be wise and discerning, but clearly there needs to be some way to grant permanent residency (or perhaps citizenship) to "illegal immigrants" who came here as children and grew up here.

There is also some silliness on the Left, as the Obama administration is conducting training for federal employees that describes the Pilgrims as illegal aliens. This is silly. They could not have been illegal aliens because it was not illegal for them to come here. This is political correctness run wild and the Obama administration should immediately stop distributing this politically-motivated propaganda to federal employees.

You will notice that I did not get much into specifics as to what I think should be implemented. That is not the point of this post. The point of this post is to lay out some general principles - especially from the Word of God, which we should always consult - in how we are to deal with this issue. Above all else, we should be concerned about doing the right thing, not forming public policy based on how we can pick up a few more votes in elections. That is exactly what is wrong with Washington politics these days.