Love Your Neighbor?

If you have uttered the words, “Well that’s what they get for illegally entering this country. They should have done it legally.”, please read this. It’s not often that I offer up such plain spoken, strong language. But I’m going to speak very bluntly. So buckle up.

Lets get a few things straight:

1. Many crossing the border illegally are doing so to seek asylum. If you don’t clearly know what that means you should probably learn. Moreover, if you do not have true knowledge of what is actually required to legally immigrate to this nation (that you so fortuitously were born into) now is the time to update yourself. It is not nearly as simple as, “just do it legally”. Obviously, if it was we wouldn’t be having this conversation.

2. Many crossing the border are from El Salvador, Guatamala, and Honduras. If you can’t quickly find those countries on a map, let alone speak to the threat of violence that is causing thousands of people to flee… you should probably avoid speaking on this topic until you are informed. Furthermore, I would suggest reading up on U.S. history. We have a terrible record of underestimating human rights abuses and denying legitimate asylum claims (German Jewish refugees in the 1930s, Haitians fleeing the Duvalier dictatorship, Salvadorans fleeing political violence in the 1980s, etc). So here we are. All set to repeat history. The Former First Lady Laura Bush also rightly compared current actions to the Japanese internment camps of our past in her eloquently written piece for the Washington Post.

3. If you do commit a crime in this country deserving of jail time, your child is not taken  to a warehouse and left to cry it out. They are connected to a social worker and swiftly placed with a foster parent. So I would argue the false-logic comparison of  “If you commit a crime here, your kids are taken away”. While we are on the subject of false logic, stop comparing this to other tragedies and abuses. This is not an “either/or”. Your straw man fallacy is a sad attempt to justify these actions. One is not “only allowed to be upset about this if they are upset about [insert wrongful deed here]”. There’s never a wrong time to be enraged by childhood trauma. Under current accommodations, at best these children have basic physical needs being met, but are experiencing unnecessary separation from their parents resulting in emotional trauma. Workers at these camps are instructed not to comfort children. They aren’t even allowed to pick up the infants. Can you imagine not being able to pick up a crying baby? I believe separating children from their parents is cruel. But even if you do not, how can you justify the unnecessary cost of resources needed to house them in separate massive detention centers and tent cities?

4. The law is not the ultimate authority on what is morally right. It was illegal to harbor Jews during the holocaust. It was legal to own slaves. Moses was hidden in the reeds when the legal demand was to surrender him to certain death. Jesus himself was taken from the threat of danger so that he would not be killed by a legal decree demanding all boys under the age of two be slaughtered! Should they have followed the law?

5. Since when is the defense, “Well past administrations did it too!” a reasonable one? First of all, it’s not entirely accurate. This particular mode of operation is a part of the new “zero tolerance policy”. The previous method, known to many by the demeaning nickname “catch and release”, was deemed too generous a practice…remember?  In addition to the lack of full truthful disclosure, I find the finger-pointing validation seeking to be pathetic. I was taught as a child that you do not justify your behavior according to what someone else has done. We are all individually responsible for our wrongs. If someone else has committed the same atrocious abuse of children, it does not excuse what is happening right now. Turning a humanitarian crisis into a petty political feud is immature and disgusting.

6. I understand very clearly the need to secure our -or any- nation’s borders. Literally no one, not a single voiced opinion I’ve heard, is suggesting that we simply open the flood gates and let everyone enter this country without documentation. Most, including myself, are simply asserting that there must be a humane, morally upright, and compassionate way to handle it. If you disagree, I truly feel sorry for the sad state of your heart. What has made you so callous?

Should this all fall on deaf ears and you absolutely refuse to hear the logical defense of children who will cry themselves to sleep tonight and nursing babies literally taken from their mother’s breast… then please, hear this:

If the well-being of my family was ever so threatened that I felt there was no choice but to carry our children over many miles to attempt crossing a foreign border… and perhaps time, money, lack of information, or any other complication kept me from crossing legally. And my little boys- the ones that you so readily tell me are a precious blessing- were taken from my arms. I heard them screaming for me as I we were pulled in different directions- not knowing where they would be taken or when-if ever- I would see them again or what would be done to them… and you could look me in the eyes and tell me that I deserved it. Or more importantly, look them in their eyes and tell them that they deserve it because of my actions. Then please do me a favor, go sit alone and do some very serious soul searching.

Because I am appalled by the lack of compassion and discernment I am seeing. Especially, when I see it coming from people old enough to be my parents. I expect some arrogant ignorance in youth, but certainly expect more from anyone advanced in years. And most especially, by anyone claiming to be a follower of Christ. Shame on you. If you are smugly putting your nose in the air and valuing an inflated sense of nationalism over basic kindness, you’re doing it wrong.

I do not want to hear another person so desperate to win a fight that they refuse to do the right thing. I do not want to hear one more person so hell bent on defending their chosen political party or politician that they refuse to see the humanity right in front of their face. And I certainly don’t want to see someone have the audacity to fundraise for a mission trip to one of those very nations while lacking the clarity to see that the people they are traveling to serve are being mistreated on our own soil.

While I generally have patience for opinions different from my own, I draw the line at someone defending child abuse to serve their own political agenda or twisted theology. It is repulsive.

You better pray that you never, ever find yourself in such a desperate situation- entirely reliant on the empathy of foreign strangers. You may just learn the hard way to value the command- “love your neighbor as yourself”.

“Americans pride ourselves on being a moral nation, on being the nation that sends humanitarian relief to places devastated by natural disasters or famine or war. We pride ourselves on believing that people should be seen for the content of their character, not the color of their skin. We pride ourselves on acceptance. If we are truly that country, then it is our obligation to reunite these detained children with their parents — and to stop separating parents and children in the first place. People on all sides agree that our immigration system isn’t working, but the injustice of zero tolerance is not the answer. I moved away from Washington almost a decade ago, but I know there are good people at all levels of government who can do better to fix this.”- Laura Bush