Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Illegal Immigrants or Refugees?

The problems at the southern border of the United States are complex. Since they involve life and death we ought to look beyond the economic impact of our policies, actions, motives, and thinking. The fact that much of the rhetoric surrounding the influx of children across our borders revolves around money is an indictment of the United States, and the professing church within the United States. Could it be that Christians who desire God’s mercy when applying the law of God to their own lives forget God’s mercy when insisting on applying immigration law to the lives of others? Which violation of which law deserves the greater punishment?

Frances Robles of the New York Times, in a July 9, 2014 article writes, “ ‘The first thing we can think of is to send our children to the United States,’ said a mother of two in La Pradera [Honduras], who declined to give her name because she feared gang reprisals. ‘That’s the idea, to leave.’

“Honduran children are increasingly on the front lines of gang violence. In June, 32 children were murdered in Honduras, bringing the number of youths under 18 killed since January of last year to 409, according to data compiled by Covenant House, a youth shelter in Tegucigalpa, the capital.”

As the US Conference of Catholic Bishops has pointed out, children from Honduras do not represent a crisis of illegal immigrants, they represent a refugee crisis – and yet the United States Government, state governments and, it appears, much of the professing church, fails to acknowledge that many of these children are, in fact, refugees from war-torn areas – gang wars are just as lethal as other wars, just ask parents in our inner cities, just ask parents in Honduras. 

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