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Immigration: A Brief AnalysisAlan WisdomMay 24, 2010
Immigration is a complex subject. There are no biblical passages laying out the details of a just immigration policy for the United States today. A modern nation like ours is not analogous to ancient Israel, nor are biblical figures easily comparable to contemporary illegal immigrants.
Devising an immigration policy is an exercise in trying to strike a prudent balance among competing values, all of which place legitimate moral claims upon us. Such values include: kindness toward the stranger, concern for the poor at home and abroad, upholding the rule of law, providing asylum for the persecuted, sustaining the culture that makes democracy possible, keeping families together when possible, securing the borders against external threats, and environmental and fiscal responsibility. It is not possible to admit everyone who might wish to reside in the United States; hard choices must be made. Even the most carefully conceived immigration policy may have unintended effects.
The church has no particular expertise in many of these questions. How carefully have bishops studied the impact of large-scale immigration on the wages of unskilled labor? How many pastors can explain the technical capabilities and limitations of various border security measures? Church members are deeply divided on the volatile immigration issue. Church leaders would be well advised to show caution and modesty. They ought to beware anyone who offers easy answers. There are no easy answers on immigration.
Here are some of the considerations that thoughtful U.S. Christians should bear in mind:
Citing these poll results proves nothing about whether church members are right or wrong in their opinions. But together with all the uncertainties of biblical interpretation and social/economic analysis regarding immigration, these results suggest that wise church leaders ought to be cautious and modest in addressing this difficult and sensitive issue.
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