Immigration’s Tough Questions

With Obama’s Health Care Reform being discussed, special interest groups have started calling for Immigration Reform that would coincide with a public health plan. Noting the finances involved, other interest groups state that this isn’t fair to Americans and has called for stricter Immigration rules. This has reignited old political questions while introducing American Christians to an ethical quagmire.

Maybe if Immigration reform was a black and white criminal issue, things might be easier for Christians, but immigration is a civil matter with only potential criminal concerns—and those in respect to national security. Post 9/11, American s know that being soft in one area may mean some serious repercussions in another; and yet American Christians don’t want to repeat the embarrassing mistakes of yesteryear where discrimination against specific aliens became a matter of public policy.

And even if we didn’t talk about National Security in regards to terrorism, we have a very real national health concern in regards to vaccination. Americans might be up to code, as it were, but immigrants wouldn’t have had those early life benefits. This cuts two ways: not only can we see a comeback of controlled diseases, but the outbreak would hit the immigrant population the hardest. Thousands upon thousands of people suffering unnecessarily in the midst of a basically healthy society just reflects really poorly on that society.

Thankfully, hospitals try to help. In 2007, American Hospitals lost $34 Billion (Pdf Warning) to bad debt and charity cases; a number not expected to change due to aliens not having preventative health care and primarily using Emergency Rooms. As of 2006, there was an estimated 12 million illegal aliens living in the United States; that number is expected to grow and the health industry will continue to feel the weight.

But even in the midst of that, those Aliens contribute $7 Billon a year to Social Security; a system which they cannot participate in. Giving the aliens Amnesty would fix this but then we’d have the Social Security system, already busting at the seams, pushed beyond the snapping point and being unable to provide for the elderly.

The issue that they get paid more in American than they would have in their country is small comfort when the income is much lower than native borns and they wind up helping our economy in not very gray ways. It’s even less comforting when this strata of society can get pulled into all sorts of abusive practices (be it prostitution, indentured servant hood, being robbed of their days wages, and so on).

American Christians struggle with all this and are left wondering: how can we deal with it? What is expected of them and what is their responsibility? Are there any Scriptural principles that can be gleaned by which American Christians can think through these things? What should Christians be doing right now? They’re tough questions to struggle with and answer; I think we should try, though.

So I, a Christian—and thus an alien according to Scripture—yet a native-born American citizen and the grateful son of Hispanic immigrants, will also struggle with these questions.

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