After going over different principles, biblical texts, history, and statistical data surrounding immigration, it is time to move forward with engagement of the issue. There are many things that a person or a group could do to provide care to immigrants in a variety of ways, all of which are both good and necessary tasks. On the whole, though, this care will not have a large impact on systemic issues. Political engagement is needed in order to approach and address issues in the immigration system.
It is important to understand that Christians can (and should) be involved in the political process in the United States. (In fact, they can be involved in politics worldwide, but the focus here is the American system.) I could point to a variety of biblical passages that demonstrate a precedent for political interaction, including examples from Jesus, Paul, and the apostles. Even with this precedent, there is still the matter of a difference in government systems. We don’t live in biblical times, nor do we live under a government system from that time. However, this does not mean that Christians can’t engage politics today.
The United States is a democracy. Every citizen already has an impact on the system just by being a citizen. Citizens choose their Representatives: those Representatives work for us. Additionally, since the Christian community is so large in this country, we already have a loud voice that we can use in the system. It is interesting to see that the typical Evangelical Christian voice can be heard on issues like abortion or gay marriage, but is not typically heard on other issues. We should care about other issues, and we have already seen many reasons in this series why immigration should be an issue that our voice is heard on. There have even been examples where I currently live (Colorado) of representatives adjusting their stance on immigration because of a large interaction with evangelical constituents who voiced their concerns on the issue of immigration.
I do recognize that our government system and many Americans are not Christian, and many peoples’ values and beliefs differ from ours. This knowledge should not impact whether we engage the political system or not, but can impact how we approach the system. Even with differing value systems, there is still common ground that can be found between people. These common values can actually stand stronger than different agreements on legislation. If a group of people are only united by a certain bill and the bill doesn’t pass, that coalition will dissolve. However, if people agree on values, the failure of a bill will not dissolve that coalition because there is something to fall back to.
Unfortunately, there is no specific guide to approaching politics or engaging with other belief systems. Many of these interactions must be handled case-by-case, and even person-by-person. We must remember that we can approach politics and we can find common ground if we try.
We must also remember that change is not easy, nor is it always quick. We’ve already seen that the last major change to the immigration system happened 50 years ago. Even so, as I said in my last blog post, I believe that there will be political action surrounding immigration very soon in the United States. We’ve already seen the beginnings of this with the rhetoric from the Presidential campaign trail and with the response to Syrian refugees this week after the attacks in Paris and Beirut. Much of the loudest buzz has been anti-immigrant and anti-refugee, stands that run counter to principles I have discussed in this series. Now, perhaps more than ever, it is important to advocate for positive change to the immigration system.
This is the fifth posting in a series on immigration. Subscribe, like on Facebook, and follow on Twitter for more updates. Don’t forget to comment, like, and share.