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My Summarizing Thoughts on Illegal Immigration

I’ve arrived at the point of this series where I’m expected (of myself, of course) to systematize all I’ve covered and come up with immigration reform in America. I’ve looked at the subject about every which way: I’ve examined the problems; I’ve worked through a thought model based on the Old Testament; I’ve looked at reasons for civil disobedience; the reality of Christians under rulers and the further reality of Christians as rulers; I’ve explained the importance of conscience; and finally I looked at the reality of living in a world where sin still reigns—so a solution is expected, right? In this post I’m going to first explain what I think would be an ideal situation with immigration reform, then I’ll follow with something more realistic on the national level, and then I’ll end with what I think Christians should be realistically doing now.

Ideally (within the realm of my intended purpose of these posts; we can always conceive of something even better) there shouldn’t be a problem of illegal immigration at all. It would be great if people from other countries could come to America to better their own situation and America would comply in fulfilling that dream. As part of this openness, Americans would have a process by which aliens can come in, be given work with a proper salary that fulfilled areas that people aren’t currently jumping on board with (and still addresses the skill set of the Aliens) while offering them government sponsored health benefits which they partially pay for with some sort of tax. As part of their involvement in the country, they would also be steeped in an integration program where they are taught the lingua franca, some basics about economics (banking, smart shopping, coupons, etc), supplied some sort of housing with cultural support, with the end goal being that they become citizens. As citizens they would be afforded a basic public education (that would include college, if they want to go there) and hopefully become a productive part of American society. All of that would be ideal.

Realistically all of that wouldn’t be perfectly possible in a fallen world. Cultural support neighborhoods might look more like the ethnic barrios we have now. Realistically, I think that America should have a public health plan that offsets the costs of emergency room visits by illegal aliens via offering a public health plan for all aliens and people who can’t afford health insurance. In this way, the undocumented aliens would still hit the hospitals but the costs have been curbed by addressing all the other people who also hit the hospitals instead of doctors or clinics. I think there should be some sort of background check process for undocumented aliens to see if these folk are criminals before trying to integrate them in society. I think that companies should have a citizen integration program that allows them to hire undocumented workers to perform what they need doing at a wage-to-skill equivalent pay grade but with a program that similarly looks at making these folk Americans.

Christians though should think realistically about all this since I don’t think that the problem of illegal immigration will be properly addressed at the governmental level without hurting loads of people. I think that a lot of this sort of thinking should come from American Christians.

So, I think that it is up to the Christian’s conscience if he will hire the illegal alien or not, but if he does hire one (against the state’s laws), he better be paying the person how he would pay an American, be concerned for the alien’s health, and be concerned about getting the alien to become documented. The American Christian should be seeking to integrate this person while respecting their culture, constantly reflecting the Gospel imperative with the balm of loving one’s neighbor—even these distant neighbors. A Christian in a different situation, who sees that there’s someone hiring undocumented workers and mistreating them, should be similarly concerned for them and (I say this carefully) report the person who is mistreating the aliens. I don’t think this reporting should be done blindly though. I think that the Christian should first speak to the aliens (and their managers), get to know them, speak to them about the importance of getting documented and of getting away from the mistreatment. It may be that the situation will be dealt with by the employer himself. It might not.

The point is that American Christians should be concerned about this in the national level, be willing to act on their conviction, and concerned enough to seek to properly reflect how the nation looks like under the Lordship of Christ. There’s a fair amount of nationalism in my statement but it is a nationalism that is Christ centered—that seeks the betterment of others and the best representation of itself in the now only insofar as it hinges its existence on the resurrected Christ. Of course the nation will not achieve this on its own because it is not Christian, so each Christian will have to deal with each illegal immigration situation personally and in the place that they have been found.

This post has concessions, concerns and qualifications; but it’s all fraught with the problems of looking through a dirty window. We’re mired in sin so any solution won’t be pat and proper.

In other words, this is a tough spot. At this side of eternity Christians will have to choose between choices in the grey that are very much sullied with of sin. Sometimes Christians will have to choose between supporting a war and allowing attacks on citizens; sometimes Christians will have to choose between denying an alien citizenship and denying the government the right to send the alien home.

As for me, I started this whole thing thinking I wouldn’t have any suggestions of what we should be doing and at the other side of it; I have suggestions and the kernel of a conviction forming. I think the importance of the image of God should inform a lot of our thinking on this issue; and yet I also think that the importance of individual conscience and vocation is something not to be shrugged aside with blanket statements (be it about the image of God or about the mandate to obey governments or whatever).

I encourage you to look over the rest of the series, examine the passages that I cite and, God willing, offer your own thoughts. Perhaps, the Lord will use you to work on me. Or vice versa. Either way, think through it.

Update 10/07/2009:

I wound up summarizing my series on illegal immigration with some of the solutions consisting of public policy implemented at the governmental level and then some vocational wisdom that is likely the only real world activity we can practically implement. The problem with some of solutions I gave is in what I didn’t say resulting in making some of the solutions the moral superior ideal even though I noticed they technically aren’t.

The problem point is found in the second paragraph: I listed government sponsored health benefits, public education, government programs to train with banking, and public housing with cultural support. Why is this situation listed as ideal? What makes it morally superior?

When I wrote later on about American Christians reflecting a proper nationalism that consists of a version of society that reflects the Gospel within that society, it was apparent that what I saw as ideal was that society was participating in the activity that made it in its entirety be the best version of itself. But the fallacy is found in concluding that this means that this is implemented at the governmental level.

In other words: a public solution isn’t morally superior to a private one at all.

For example, if the government said that there was to be a public health plan for illegal aliens, public schooling funded by tax dollars, and public training for education and yet every single person under the purview of this mythical government hated illegal aliens and only did this to not have to deal with their smell or worse, to prepare them all for a private execution, would their action on the public level be morally justified? Yeah, I know that’s ridiculous but the point is that if something isn’t going on at the private level that doesn’t automatically make the public level good.

This is most obviously seen when you invert it. If a private institution is supporting all its members for their good that doesn’t make the public government the private institution belongs to morally good in the policies that it implements.

And yes, I know that I started the summarizing post with the point that we can always conceive of something better—but this doesn’t have to do with that. This has to do with the fallacy of assuming that only the governmental programs way would be the ideal when I could have easily envisioned a way that Americans would do everything I said in the post at the private level and still be morally good while reflecting the best version of America available.

I’m going to tack this on to the end of that summarizing post to clear up any confusion there.

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