Immigration has been a large topic of public debate in recent times. Almost everyone believes we need some kind of immigration reform, although there is vast disagreement on what that should look like.
I’m not interested here in taking a position on the specifics of what immigration reform should look like. But I do believe that we need to acknowledge that Christians have an obligation to think about the question in a way different from the way the secular world looks at it. In their 2003 letter, Strangers No Longer, the bishops of the U.S. and Mexico reminded us that Jesus, Mary and Joseph were immigrants in Egypt, something Richard Rohr has accused many Christians of forgetting and ignoring. In Contemplation and Action, Rohr wrote:
A Christian by identification with Jesus must by necessity identify with those that he called “blessed” by at least four different standards (Matthew 5:3-6, 10). He told us that if we did not “welcome the stranger” we were “cursed” (Matthew 25:40), and yet, this has had almost no effect on the typical Christian’s attitude toward outsiders in almost all countries.
I have little patience with people who call the USA a Christian nation when I see our attitude toward the very poor who are doing all the hard jobs that we are unwilling to do. Such self serving hypocrisy will meet a firm judgment later, and deserves our judgment now.
Again, my point is not that one proposal or another is of necessity one that all Christians must agree on. But we do have to make sure that our thinking about immigration policy reflects Jesus’ command to welcome the stranger and that when we look at our immigrant brothers and sisters, the face we see is that of Jesus.