What You Do To the Least of These, Taking It Political

Like many people, I am horrified at what is happening on our borders. I take it personally. The first step toward any solution is to immediately stop the policies that are in place currently. No more mandatory detention, no more criminal prosecution as a default. No more ICE raids rounding up non-violent illegal immigrants. Re-institute the protections for abused women and those escaping gang violence. Before you shut off, give me the chance to explain what goes into place after this stops.
I want to be upfront and honest. I long for a world where we can have open borders. I do not think it threatens our identity in the least, and I also believe that one of our inherent rights is the freedom of movement. That’s the idealist in me. The pragmatist in me says that we are not there yet and that our current system is broken, and has been broken for many years. I don’t care who is to blame and I am completely uninterested in assigning any blame to anyone. At this point assigning blame does no good. Recognizing that we need laws in place, those laws, the question then becomes what can be done, should be done, and what can a Christian live with, at least this Christian. As a Christian, I follow a God who is merciful, and because of this, laws that I can, in good conscious, support must be merciful. I also follow a God who is just, and as such the laws must reflect that which is just. I follow a God who also wipes the slate clean when I come in repentance, so in this case, such laws must also somehow reflect this. We are also not a theocracy, nor do I wish us to be, but my faith does dictate what I can, and can not, support in matters of civil law. In that spirit and purpose, I offer the following things.
  1. The dreamers (a really dumb name) that are currently here need a pathway to citizenship. That starts with them getting their legal status and should be tethered with the process of becoming a US citizen. The process of becoming a US citizen via naturalization requires one to have a resident status for five years, have established a residence for five years, and be present in the US. These requirements should be subject to the same lesser requirements as anyone else (marriage to a US citizen, military service, etc.) The application for citizenship should be filled out and given a ‘pending status’ for the duration of the green card issuance. If the requirements are not fulfilled in this time, save for serious extenuating circumstances, then said “dreamer” becomes subject to deportation under the law. In this system the green card should not be able to be renewed.
  2. The green card system over all needs to be overhauled. There should be allowed one five year renewal after the original issuance, and that is all. The end goal of residency in the US should be permanent citizenship. This should also apply to those with refugee or asylum status. After one year, such individuals must apply for a green card anyway, then they become subject to that system as well.
  3. For those here illegally, there needs to be a short window to rectify the situation. After said window, I believe that we should pass legislation that will make it impossible for anyone who has been here illegally from ever becoming a citizen or obtaining a work permit or resident status.
  4. I believe that we should use and require mandatory E-verify systems for all employers with stiff penalties for those companies that refuse to comply or who knowingly hire those here illegally. Those penalties should be significant enough to matter requiring the company to pay fines in excess of the estimated profit they garnered from the illegal workers as well as the salary paid them. In extreme cases, such as a company that is running primarily on illegal immigrants, assets should be seized and then auctioned off. I seriously dislike regulations and asset forfeiture, but the reality of where we are, that is decades of bad policy, require some extreme measures to be taken.
  5. A non-citizen stamp should be applied to drivers licenses and state ID cards. This would require a non-citizen to provide their work permits or legal resident documentation for even the simplest of financial transactions. This helps prevent illegal immigrants from travel, from working and receiving money, etc. I do not like over burdening individuals, but this seems to be a necessary step.
  6. At the boarder, for those crossing illegally, we should track with fingerprints and photos compiling a database of those trying to enter. Upon capture, the individuals should be printed, and photographed. The option should then be given them to apply for asylum, leave to the country they crossed from with the understanding that should they attempt to enter a second time, there is criminal prosecution, or to face prosecution. This should be done the first time only. At this time they should also be given, upon request, the proper forms and instruction to enter legally if they so chose to fill them out upon returning to their country of origin.
  7. In cases where there is a crime, the children should be allowed contact with their parents in much the same way as children can visit their parents now who are incarcerated. Currently, this is not the case. Parents and children often do not even know the location of each other. Unless the crime is felonious and/or violent, I think that they penalties should be handled with fines, or even civilly, to prevent the separation of families.
  8. For those seeking asylum, if the policy is to be detention until their case is heard, then such detention should be in a family setting. Something like FEMA trailers are not ideal, but are better than separation and treating those coming form help like criminals. Something along those lines seems to be compassionate but also serve the perceived current need to detain asylum seekers. I also think that should those seeking asylum have family here, that releasing them to their families pending their hearing should also be an option. I also think that churches could play a role here in perhaps establishing temporary housing for those coming seeking asylum in some way.

There is no silver bullet. We have a mess that has been decades in the making and it will likely take decades for it to be straightened out. The above I think reflects the justice tempered with mercy that Christians should be desiring. It also reflects, I think, the best of America in doing all that we can to welcome those who come. We are a nation of laws, of course, and there needs to be justice, but justice that is acceptable to Christians should only be that justice that is tempered with mercy.

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4 Replies to “What You Do To the Least of These, Taking It Political”

  1. This is probably the most coherent set of ideas I have seen put into place. If the powers that be would stop arguing long enough, or trying to defend the indefensible, to be able to sit down and discuss solutions, we’d not have the mess we have.

    Of course, that would be a serious departure from anything we’ve ever known from our politicians. but one can always hope – and pray!

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