Sunday, October 4, 2015

For I was a Stranger...

“When a stranger sojourns with you in your land, you shall not do him wrong. You shall treat the stranger who sojourns with you as the native among you, and you shall love him as yourself, for you were strangers in the land of Egypt: I am the Lord your God."

"For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me"

In my small circle of friends, I am dear friends with five people - from two households - who are in here in the US because their lives were threatened in the places from which they come. I, myself, am descended from Huguenots, who came to America to escape being killed in Europe.

In my church today, we heard prayer concerns about a family friend who had escaped from Latin America to the US - again, to save his own life - only to be promptly arrested and placed in a for-profit detainee center. We also heard about a recent trip to Hungary that just happened to occur at the same time that thousands of people fled from the Middle East to escape life-threatening danger there.

In all these cases, I have heard how family members and friends of all these people had already been killed. They risked boats over-turning and death and they left all they had behind, they left friends and family behind... all to escape persecution, death... real, imminent dangers. They didn't do it as a fluke. They didn't do it to get "free stuff" from other nations. They did it - are doing it - to save their lives and the lives of their loved ones.

This is not a conservative/liberal issue. It's not a democrat/republican issue. It's not a Christian, Jewish, Muslim or non-theist issue. This is a human issue, because it's a human problem. We MUST change our policies.

When someone crosses our borders and says they were escaping from wherever to save their lives, our first response as human beings concerned with human rights and justice, MUST be to say, "Welcome" and let them in. Now, if we have reason to suspect foul play, by all means, we can investigate. But part of our great tradition in the free world is the notion that we are innocent until proven guilty. If someone is running for their lives, we are obliged by simple human decency and a thirst for justice and righteousness to help them.

We are our neighbor's keeper. For, as God reminds us in the Bible, we - all of us - were and are and have been and will be an immigrant at some point in time. I'm not talking about being "aw, isn't that nice" or simple charity, I'm talking about justice and basic decency. It is past time that we, the people, demand policies that work for justice for the immigrant, because this is justice for ourselves.


Marshall Art said...

First, you must demonstrate that existing immigration law is somehow unjust. It seems clear that you have an entirely open-ended notion of how our government should determine who it allows to enter and stay in this country. Yours is a completely Pollyanna-like suggestion. Anyone can say they are oppressed and fleeing harm. How do you propose that we confirm this is true and not just another ploy to gain entry without following existing procedures?

There can never be a number that would not leave some waiting outside. How many do you think we should allow in every year? Think of all the areas of the world where people are being abused by their governments or those who seek to overthrow their governments. How many millions of people are dealing with dangerous situations, and how can you pretend that we would not be harmed by imagining we have enough resources, jobs...ROOM...for all of them? Our government has no obligation to let ANYONE into the country for any reason. None whatsoever.

We know that ISIS plans to send their thugs to western countries amongst the refugees that seek asylum and protection. How do you propose you can confirm which are which?

So here are two suggestions that would satisfy your concerns about the downtrodden in other countries:

1. Arm them and let them defend themselves against the oppressors from which they flee. Let them fight for their independence like we fought for ours.

2. All people like yourself who are so concerned about the "sojourner" (a horribly poor understanding of Scripture----more likely another typical corruption to make it mean what you want it to mean) can welcome these who flee into your own homes. You are responsible for their care, feeding, housing and medical needs, but you must do so within the borders of your own property so as not to deny your fellow citizens. That means, no jobs for them, as our own people need jobs. No government welfare, because our own poor need that welfare. YOU must provide for these people directly, until they can either return to their native land or until their turn comes up in the already existing pathway to citizenship or legal entry. That is, they would be waiting in YOUR home until such time as they would normally be up for consideration for legal entry.

There is no other way that I can see that won't put us at risk just to assuage your goofy and perverted notion of what our responsibilities are to our fellow man.

Dan Trabue said...

you must demonstrate that existing immigration law is somehow unjust.

Already done so.

A young man is escaping death squads in Latin America. He crosses the US border and is promptly arrested. He tells them, "If you send me back, I will be killed." Instead of a presumption of innocence, they arrest him and place him in a detainee center.

This is unjust. Justice requires innocent until proven guilty. Justice demands sanctuary for those escaping danger.

This is unjust.

As to your first suggestion, yeah, that worked real well when we armed contra terrorists or we armed bin Laden or when we armed other thuggish, oppressive regimes and terrorists. Those guns, trainings and weapons are never used to kill innocent people or come back to be used against us.

Bad suggestion, as demonstrated so well by the Reagan/Bush/Bush years (and others, to be fair).

As to your second, a question: Do you hold that anti-abortionists must provide homes for all the fetuses aborted before they can voice opinions on the matter. But it certainly is a good idea to support immigrants, whoever you might be. It's why I/we do it in our community, including taking people into our homes.

Also as to your second suggestion, the suggestion that 1. they can't work and 2. They can't receive support is unjust itself. To say, "you're welcome to come here, but you must rely upon charity to stay" is itself an oppressive and unjust suggestion. It's offering a choice between remaining to face death threats and death or oppression or starving to death or being forced to rely upon charity. Not a very conservative point of view. We progressive types WANT people to work, just as the people who come here want to work.

The bottom line, immigration limits are not just, especially when we're talking about people who would starve to death or be killed or oppressed if they stay where they are, and especially if our policies helped make where they are more dangerous, more difficult to get a job.

Think about your "arm them" suggestion for a second, Marshall: In Nicaragua, the people were being oppressed and killed by Contras (armed and trained by us). If you then follow YOUR suggestion, we would also have to arm the normal people of Contra and tell them to use arms to kill their oppressors. And WHO was funding their oppressors? The US gov't! So, are you suggesting arming them so they can specifically use those arms to attack us??

That is patently insane. Obviously, you did not think that through. But it does underscore the innate injustice and insanity of your position.

End oppressive and unjust immigration laws! I think ultimately that this is an argument your side will lose, too.

Dan Trabue said...

The reason it is unjust, Marshall, it is a violation of basic human rights, the right to self determination, the right to be presumed innocent until proven guilty.

They ARE being found literally guilty of violating the rule against entering our country, but the rule itself is arbitrary and unjust. If that law didn't exist, then there would be no basis to arrest them. It is an arbitrary and made up law. Just like the laws against what you can and can't smoke or ingest.

On what rational, moral or justice-based grounds (beyond fear that "they" will come and take away "our" jobs) would we make up a law like this that treats the mere free movement from one place to another as a crime? I understand rules against free movement is how it works in a tyrannical system, but in a free Republic?

Marshall Art said...

"Instead of a presumption of innocence, they arrest him and place him in a detainee center."

Nonsense. If he crossed the border at the proper place, he wouldn't be arrested. People cross that border everyday in both directions. He crossed illegally and was arrested for that. They detain him until they can determine if his plea for protection is valid. You would have us simply assume all who insist they are fleeing persecution actually are...that they are all being honest rather than merely saying that to gain entry. So glad our immigration department isn't staffed with nothing but chumps like you.

"Justice demands sanctuary for those escaping danger."

Once it's determined that they actually are fleeing persecution, then perhaps sanctuary can be provided. Not simply on their word. It would take a special kind of idiot to simply take them at their word. There would be no one who tries to come here without claiming persecution.

More later.

Marshall Art said...

Here's a more detailed, though hardly exhaustive, list of questions to consider that directly addresses those who are "escaping danger" (courtesy National Review Oct 19, 2015):

--Can we distinguish between genuine refugees and economic migrants?
--Can we adequately investigate refugees to make sure none have ties to ISIS, which has already demonstrated an interest in exporting its activities?
--Can we prioritize refugees in actual danger, rather than those taking advantage of the current situation to leave safe havens in Turkey, Lebanon, and elsewhere?
--With state and local governments across the country struggling to afford the thousands of unaccompanied minors who crossed America's southern border last year, can refugees be hosted in a way that does not further overburden local communities?
--Can Syrian-refugee communities prevent the rise of Islamism in the second and third generations---the problem plaguing America's Somali-refugee community?

The piece end with this truth: Compassion is no substitute for a careful consideration of these and a host of other serious concerns.

But you clearly don't waste time with consequences and ramifications of what for you passes for "compassion". And why should you? YOU'RE not going to house anyone at YOU'RE expense.

Dan Trabue said...

I think that for a person of genuine faith and humanity, it shouldn't matter if they were trying to enter to keep from starving or to feed their family (economic refugees) or to escape murder, oppression or unjust imprisonment ("genuine" refugees - what nonsense!). The Just, Moral and Righteous answer to those thus escaping is "Welcome."

You are free to disagree, but I would suggest such a position is cowardly, selfish and not humane, much less Christian.

As to the fear-mongering (they might be with Isis! Oh nos!) about refugees, by all means, we can investigate IF we have cause. But without reasonable clause, that is a human rights violation contrary to the ideals of free nations (a presumption of innocent until proven guilty).

Beyond that, with all our faults, I believe in our nation's ideals. I think we can compete in the global marketplace of ideals and win out. People want to come to our nation for freedom, for liberty of conscience, to be able to make a living... these ideals can stand up and defeat the terrorism of fundamentalists, given a chance. So, I have very little to fear from Isis winning the hearts and minds of our people, nor do I fear people for whom I have a presumption of innocence until they do something to raise legitimate concern. Being brown-skinned or speaking arabic is insufficient cause for raising a flag, or it should be in a free nation.

By and large, people do not leave their nations on a lark (Hey honey, wanna vacation in the US this year? We can claim we're escaping oppression, won't that be fun! Stoopid americans!). They have families and homes and love their homeland. They leave (or send their own children off) because they fear for their lives. Again, the presumption of innocence takes priority if we want to live by our ideals.

I'm not talking strictly about compassion, Marshall. I'm talking about human rights, human liberties, justice and the American Way (that is, our better ideals).

Dan Trabue said...

And as a point of fact, I and my church have housed and helped refugees. So don't speak from a place of ignorance, Marshall, unless you want to look ignorant.