The debate over illegal immigration has intensified recently, and children are playing a prominent role in the discussion. Young children are leaving their homes and their families and traveling the dangerous road to the United States. Consequently, Border Patrol agents have found themselves with large numbers of children under their protection and no clear idea of what to do next.
There have been repeated calls to send in the National Guard, to increase the security presence on the border; or to close the border completely. We have to find some way to stem the flow of immigrant men, women, and children. We have to tell them that they can’t come here.
From a pragmatic standpoint, the reality is that we can do all we want to police the border, but that won’t stop anyone from coming. We can close the border completely, but that won’t stop anyone from coming. We can talk about enforcing the law (although, it’s a bit ridiculous to expect immigrants to already understand the law, particularly children. Did you understand the immigration laws, or any laws, in your own country at the age of 5?), but that won’t stop anyone from coming.
The problem isn’t the border.
The problem is the situation at home for these immigrants. It is not an easy road traveling from South America to the United States. It is a long road compounded by the risks of rape, kidnapping, and death; and yet people continue to travel it. What could possibly keep them coming to the United States when the path is so dangerous?
These immigrants are leaving nations where life isn’t always a day-to-day guarantee. In recent weeks, we have seen the emergence of multiple reports profiling the horrors of life in South America. Can you imagine raising a family in a world of such poverty and violence? Would you not want to escape to a better life? The United States provides the prospect of a better life.
The typical response is that these immigrants should focus on fixing their own country.
I’m sure the Native Americans wish that somebody had told the Puritans that before they came here to escape the oppression of the Anglican Church. How quickly we forget our history. We are a nation of immigrants, fleeing from oppression to a better land and a better life, who perhaps read these words upon arrival: “Give me your tired, your poor, Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free.”
From a theological perspective, we have a responsibility as Christians to welcome our neighbors with open arms. As Christians, we have no borders. As Christians, we are expected to love and shelter all who come to our doorstep. We were once told to suffer the little children to come unto us, not “ship em home!”
In Leviticus 25:23, the people of Israel are told that land will not be sold permanently, as it belongs to God, and the people are merely “strangers” and “sojourners” with God. All of us. We are all mere sojourners on this earth, traveling with our God. We have a responsibility to those whose path brings them to us.
At the very least, we need to understand that there is simply no excuse for the hatred that is being levied against these men, women, and children that are coming to this country in search of nothing more than a better life. We need to stand up and recognize that building a wall so that we can ignore the problem will solve nothing. We must face it head on. We must recognize that this is not a matter of security, this is a humanitarian crisis.
Let us suffer the women, and the men, and the children, to come unto us.
Let us welcome them with open arms.
Because we are all sojourners.
Adam McDuffie is a senior at Wake Forest University pursuing a Bachelor of Arts in Religion with a concentration in Religion and Public Engagement. After graduation, Adam plans to attend seminary and pursue a career as a hospital chaplain. Originally from Brevard, NC, Adam has spent most of his life in TN, and currently resides in the thriving town of Atoka. Born in the aftermath of the SBC/CBF schism and the son of a Baptist minister, Adam is passionate about all things related to Baptist life and history. When not having his heart broken by the Demon Deacons, Adam finds time to be an avid Atlanta Braves fan and an even more avid fisherman.