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Friday, November 27, 2015

God, Refugees and Immigrants

Unless you've been living under a rock for the last several months, you've probably seen at least a few of the many stories that have dominated the news about the Syrian refugee crisis. Most of us have seen the images of the wretched folks attempting to flee to Europe (many of them with just the clothes on their backs). Most of us have heard about the number of governors in these United States who have refused to take in any of these refugees, and about the actions of our Congress to stop the President's meager (the words insufficient and token come to mind) efforts to offer asylum to a few of them. Also, many of the candidates wishing to succeed President Obama have weighed in on the topics of immigration and refugees (most of them trying to outdo each other in being "tough" on immigration policy or hard-nosed about the acceptance of any refugees. The politicians pontificate about wanting to protect American lives, jobs and property from the ravenous and unruly hordes attempting to rush over our borders.

In an Introductory Note to the Geneva Convention and Protocol Relating to the Status of Refugees, the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees stated that the Universal Declaration of Human Rights of 1948 "recognizes the right of persons to seek asylum from persecution in other countries." The United Nations Convention relating to the Status of Refugees (1951) defines a refugee as "someone who is unable or unwilling to return to their country of origin owing to a well-founded fear of being persecuted for reasons of race, religion, nationality, membership of a particular social group, or political opinion." The Introductory Note further explains that "The Convention further stipulates that, subject to specific exceptions, refugees should not be penalized for their illegal entry or stay. This recognizes that the seeking of asylum can require refugees to breach immigration rules." Finally, they go on to point out that the Convention stipulates that these folks be treated humanely within the countries which they have fled to. Sounds like compassionate, common sense doesn't it?

What does God think about aliens, foreigners, refugees and immigrants? Well, if God truly is the epitome of LOVE, then I think that most of us can imagine what "He" must think about these unfortunate folks (many of whom find themselves in circumstances which they had no part in creating and/or have discovered that they have no power to mitigate or improve).

Likewise, if we claim the Judeo-Christian Scriptures as our guide in discerning God's mind on the subject, then we are left with one inescapable conclusion: God cares about these folks and demands that "His" people treat them with compassion and generosity. Notice that the Mosaic Law demanded that the Israelites not vex or oppress strangers (Hebrew "ger" - guest, foreigner, alien, sojourner, stranger, see https://www.blueletterbible.org) [Exodus 22:21, 23:9, Leviticus 19:33]. The same law commanded the Israelites to love the strangers living among them [Leviticus 19:34 & Deuteronomy 10:18-19], and to provide for their physical needs [Leviticus 19:10, 23:22, Deuteronomy 14:29, 24:19-21 & 26:12]. Not to mention the numerous demands that they be subjected to the same legal standards that applied to the Israelites. Indeed, Christ and his disciples said that the entire law can be summarized by adhering to the principles of love for God and our fellow man, and that the best way to demonstrate our love for God is to demonstrate it for the brothers and sisters whom we live among on this earth! And let's not forget Christ's parable about the sheep and the goats [Matthew 25:31-46], and his statement that "I was a stranger, and ye took me in."

So, if we really care about what God thinks about the refugee crisis and what "He" might expect from us, it is clear that the UGLY actions and language that we hear about on the news are not consistent with God's thinking and expectations. When we see the folks behind the fences and the hunger in their eyes, we should all be saying "My God, what are we doing? Somebody let them in!"

7 comments:

  1. US Immigration should be halted because of national Environmental & Fiscal crises.

    ReplyDelete
  2. In a private response to this post, one of my friends commented:
    "The economics of immigrants are that they generally produce more than
    they consume. With modern tools aiding work, it's pretty hard not to
    produce that much if a person is applying himself even a few hours a
    day. Since they produce more than they use, they increase the wealth of
    the country. The notion that immigrants take American jobs is based on
    the idea that there is no expansion of the economy, but immigrants are
    consumers and producers both, and the addition of them expands economic
    activity. Yes, some Americans lose jobs if they are not as efficient or
    cost effective as their successors, but new jobs are created by the
    economic expansion."

    ReplyDelete
  3. ".. immigrants .. produce more than they consume."

    Well they & their cars consume oxygen & PRODUCE carbon-dioxide.
    And spraying crops to feed 320m population is killing off the bees.
    And they Consume more Welfare than natives - cis.org/immigrant-welfare-use-2011
    --which expands the impossible-to-repay $18.5t national debt.

    ReplyDelete
  4. Minimalist, I share your concern for the environment (especially the bees - how quickly some of us have forgotten Rachel Carson's Silent Spring). However, I don't see this as an economic or environmental issue - I see this as a moral issue. After all, we all share this planet, and these folks are going to impact our shared home wherever they happen to be on it at any given moment.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. If your friend is right that humans naturally create wealth, then very heavily populated Indonesia & India/Pakistan/Bangladesh should be Utopia!

      Sensible Japan takes almost no immigration; its population has been stable for 20 years. The USA grows by 2.5 million per year, like 50 million over 20 years due to immigration. The USA owes Japan over $1,000,000,000,000 -- China and Japan are monocultures that severely limit immigration.

      Delete
  5. I thought your friend would have had a refutation of the CIS paper on immigrants' heavier-than-native-welfare-use by now.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. My friend hasn't, but Alex Nowrasteh does a pretty good job of refuting the CIS paper:
      http://www.cato.org/blog/center-immigration-studies-exaggerates-immigrant-welfare-use

      Delete