Thoughts on the "Border Crisis"

There is no doubt that there is a humanitarian nightmare unfolding along the Southern border of the United States. Regardless of one’s political views, particularly revolving around immigration, one thing is abundantly clear – we have a problem.  This post will not even begin to attempt to address the larger issues regarding immigration (legal & illegal).  Instead, this entry will focus on the particular humanitarian issues relating to the tens of thousands of unaccompanied juveniles flooding across the border, being housed in pretty horrible conditions, then being bussed to various locations around the country.

Let us first look at what is going on.  Beginning several months ago, young people primarily from Central American countries as well as Mexico began coming across the border.  While there has long been a flow of children and young adults, usually with their family entering the nation “illegally”, this latest flood is a whole new situation – many of these children are unaccompanied.  The story that has been laid out by the media and the current administration is that these children are just “innocent kids fleeing violence, gangs, oppression, disease, and looking for a better life. There is little doubt that conditions in those countries are often quite bad. On the other hand, while the public story has been that these children were simply fleeing conditions at home, the evidence points to a much more sinister event.  Months ago, the US Government solicited bids to house and transport tens of thousands of immigrants, primarily children.  This was before the current situation grew anywhere near its current scale. There is mounting evidence that this situation was engineered for political reasons, using children as pawns in that political game.  But that brings us to how we, as Christians, should view the situation – and respond.

Returning to the opening paragraph – regardless of your views on the general issues of immigration, a major portion of the current flood across the border is made up of unaccompanied children – as young as toddlers.  Many of those children traveled thousands of miles. Imagine a 3 or 4 year old child somehow wandering all the way across Mexico to enter the US.  They were somehow helped (often by “Coyotes” – paid mercenaries who’s “job” is to transport illegal immigrants to the US).  Children.  And they came with promises made – made of a better life.

But along with these children is another disturbing group – the young, extremely violent gang members – mostly affiliated with the infamous MS-13.  They are coming across for opportunities – but none have to do with a better life, being law-abiding citizens, or even helping their “poor family at home” – but about furthering gang powers and drug distribution networks.

Yet another component of this massive inflow is the baggage of diseases long considered eradicated in this nation.

Our job, as professing Christians, is to see this first for the fundamental issue it is – a humanitarian disaster.  Tens of thousands of children are being used as pawns and being put through some pretty awful conditions in the process.  Regardless of their “legal status” (we can discuss that once we deal with the immediate issues), children need to see the love of Christ displayed.

The Old Testament contains the commands from God to His people to not abuse or take advantage of the “sojourner” while they are in the land.  In fact it also says to leave provision for them (the remains of your harvest are to be left in the fields/vineyards for the widows, orphans, and sojourners).

Glenn Beck, the controversial media personality and political pundit has taken a great deal of grief for loading up semi trucks full of food, toys, and hope to help as many of these children that are still in detention as possible. The vitriol focuses on the need to “take care of our own first”.  While I would hesitate to lump Beck in with the term “Christian” (he practices Mormonism), he is indeed demonstrating the right attitude towards these children.  Beck has said that these children should be returned to their families, but while they are here (the definition of “sojourner is someone who is somewhere for a time – but will be moving on or returning home), we need to treat them well, and love them.

And let us be really honest – again despite one’s views on immigration – these are human beings that God created in His image.  Mistreating them would be directly against what the Lord would have us do.  We should “do good”, we should share Christ with them, not only through our words, but through the actions of our hands. After we have made a concerted effort to care for these children, we should then take an honest look at how we got in this mess – And in the name of justice – we should seek to answer and call out those responsible for using (abusing) these children for political gain.

It is true that we have some huge issues to address in this nation regarding immigration.  But we must first see these children as the human beings they are – and care for them.

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