For the last six weeks, I have been interning with the Christian Community Development Association (CCDA), and through this work I have worked closely with the Evangelical Immigration Table (EIT) on the release of a documentary called “The Stranger.” This documentary looks at the immigration stories of three different families and the biblical call to welcome the stranger. This work has led me to care deeply about immigration, immigrants, and current issues around immigration policy in the United States.
The current immigration situation is troubling. Since October, more than 50,000 unaccompanied children have been caught trying to cross the United States border. It is devastating to think that situations in their home countries are so bad that each of these 50,000 children has attempted to come to the United States without their parents. My heart breaks that these problems exist and that these children have been sent alone, and my desire is to see a compassionate response from the church and some form of immigration reform to assist the 50,000 children and the 11-12 million undocumented immigrants currently living in our country.
With this being said, I was disturbed to see a video recently of Representative Michele Bachmann stereotyping immigrants and being unwilling to show compassion in response to the children that are being held and awaiting deportation. Knowing the Rep. Bachmann claims Christ, I am saddened to see her chose to stand by a party line rather than to allow the Bible to inform her understanding. What is also troubling to me is that, as an Evangelical Christian and registered Minnesotan voter, Michele Bachmann is representing my religious beliefs and my state. Her stated views and anything she says or does reflects back on both Christianity, my religion, and Minnesota, my state.
Van Jones, co-host of CNN’s Crossfire, is right to call out Rep. Bachmann in the video clip: she should know better, both as a U.S. Representative and a Christian. It is frightening to think that she chooses to define 11-12 million people by the actions presented in the examples of two people. These examples are tragic, and I remember the bus accident that she references. However, this stereotyping is not only unhelpful, but is wrong. Defining all undocumented immigrants by the story of two people is quite literally like defining the views and beliefs of every Minnesotan only by what Michele Bachmann says or does. It is concerning to think that she is more willing to stand by party rhetoric than by her stated Christian beliefs and by the situation at hand.
As a Christian, I would find it hard to believe that Rep. Bachmann has not heard scripture at some point that refers or explicitly discusses welcoming the stranger. Jesus seems to be quite clear in Matthew 25:
“35 for I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, 36 I was naked and you gave me clothing, I was sick and you took care of me, I was in prison and you visited me.’ 37 Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when was it that we saw you hungry and gave you food, or thirsty and gave you something to drink? 38 And when was it that we saw you a stranger and welcomed you, or naked and gave you clothing? 39 And when was it that we saw you sick or in prison and visited you?’ 40 And the king will answer them, ‘Truly I tell you, just as you did it to one of the least of these who are members of my family, you did it to me.’”
We are not only caring for the stranger, but we are caring for Christ himself. Not only do we care for Christ, but we are caring for our own brothers and sisters. Each human is made in the image of God, and when we claim Christ, we claim his family. This scripture, along with dozens of others, should inform a Christian view of immigration.
I do not wish to be terse, but I must speak my mind. Rep. Bachmann’s words do not show strength or courage in dealing with this issue, and the same can be said for other issues throughout her time in office. I have never had the opportunity to vote against her because I live in Rep. Paulsen’s district, but I am relieved to know that she will not be seeking re-election. The American public is ready for change, and Rep. Bachmann is not one of the people to lead us through it.