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Immigration Frustration

The influx of illegal immigrants is harming my community. What is a Christian response?
Immigration Frustration

Q:Over the years my community has been negatively impacted by a massive influx of illegal immigrants. There's been a huge increase in violence and crime, job loss, and a housing shortage. It's taxing our education and health care systems. We're all paying the price for people who refuse to abide by the law. I know that as a Christian, I'm supposed to have compassion for the poor and needy. But I'm really struggling with this.
—Overwhelmed, via email

A: Your frustration is understandable. The Scriptures have a lot to say about what is just and fair. It admonishes us to honor both the laws of God and the law of the land, showing respect for civil authority: "For the Lord is a God of justice … " (Is. 30:18).

But many of the same Scriptures—often in the same sentence—also remind us that the Lord is a God of mercy, that He longs to be gracious to us and wants us to extend grace to others. Consider His words to Israel in Deuteronomy 10:17-19: "The Lord your God … shows no partiality and takes no bribes. He gives justice to orphans and widows. He shows love to the foreigners living among you and gives them food and clothing. You, too, must show love to foreigners, for you yourselves were once foreigners in the land of Egypt."

It's important to remember that not every immigrant is an illegal immigrant. And in fact, at some point or another, everyone living on the North American continent originally came from somewhere else. The United States is a nation of immigrants, built by hardworking men and women searching for religious and political freedom and the opportunity to create a better life for themselves and their families. Don't let the strong emotion of the immigration debate harden your heart toward an entire race or ethnic group. It's not an excuse for prejudice. Many of the problems you describe afflict communities where immigration isn't an issue. The widespread degeneration of our culture cannot be blamed on "foreigners." The sin nature is alive and well in people from all walks of life, every socioeconomic background, race, religion, or creed.

You have the privilege to vote for legislation you believe will protect and provide for the needs of the community—and to hold elected officials accountable to enforce those laws. But let me also encourage you to make a concerted effort to get to know some of the people of other races and cultures who share your community. Visit a church whose congregation is diverse. With the love of Christ, reach out to the poor and needy—whether they seem "deserving" or not. It will help you see them for who they really are: people who—like you—are precious in God's sight.

Christin Ditchfield is the host of the syndicated radio program Take It to Heart, and the author of A Family Guide to Narnia: Biblical Truths in C. S. Lewis's The Chronicles of Narnia (Crossway).

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