In part 1 we looked at migrations since bible times, and what the bible says about treating the foreigner residing among us.
In current times, mass migrations of populations still occur with regularity.
The BBC writes of the greatest mass movement of populations ever:
The end of World War Two brought in its wake the largest population movements in European history. Millions of Germans fled or were expelled from eastern Europe. Hundreds of thousands of Jews, survivors of the genocide perpetrated by the Nazis, sought secure homes beyond their native lands. And other refugees from every country in eastern Europe rushed to escape from the newly installed Communist regimes.
From Wikipedia we learn of immigration to the United States that,
- Nearly 14 million immigrants entered the United States from 2000 to 2010.
- From 1836 to 1914, over 30 million Europeans migrated to the United States.
- The peak year of European immigration was in 1907, when 1,285,349 persons entered the country
- Today Mexico is largest sending country with 135,000 annually (escaping poverty) and China is next with 71,000 (escaping industrial pollution). Mexico has been #1 sender and China #2 since at least 1990
In 1921, America installed a nation-by-nation quota on how many to allow in from each sending nation. Entry could be monitored and thus immigrants absorbed without overwhelming the services, lands, towns and cities. It was done away within 1965.
But the stranger that dwelleth with you shall be unto you as one born among you, and thou shalt love him as thyself; for ye were strangers in the land of Egypt: I am the LORD your God. (Leviticus 19:34)
In 2001 there was an issue in a city north of where I was living, Lewiston Maine. PBS reported in 2007:
Somali refugees began arriving in Lewiston, Maine (pop. 36,000) six years ago. Word spread that Lewiston had good schools, a low crime rate and cheap housing — and the Somalis began arriving in droves.
The NY Times wrote,
More than 1,000 have poured into this city of 36,000 in the last 18 months. Immigration experts said they could not think of another city that, proportionately speaking, had absorbed so many newcomers so quickly.
Lewiston is mill city. Unemployment was high, so the draw of Somalis was not due to an availability of easily obtained jobs. Maine’s climate is well known for its long, frigid winters with heavy snowfall, in contrast to Somalia’s climate at the desert equator with some of the highest mean temperatures in the world. So the draw was not the climate. Rumors went circulating among the Lewistonians that the Somalis were relocating to Lewiston from their initial settlement in Georgia because the welfare was better in Maine. Interviews with some of the newly settled confirm this was a prominent factor in their migration from Somalia to Clarkston GA to Lewiston Maine, with families back home getting the word that Lewiston was the place to come to.
Do not mistreat or oppress a foreigner, for you were foreigners in Egypt. (Exodus 22:21)
So, once word was out, Somalis arriving “in droves” swamped the city. Public Schools were scrambling to find ESL teachers. Interpreters were in short supply. Social service organizations and job trainers were overwhelmed. Housing went from 20% vacancy rate down to 7% vacancy rate a few years later but rents went up accordingly. In frustration, and of concern for both the newly arriving Somalis and the beleaguered citizens of his city, in 2002 Mayor Laurier Raymond wrote an open letter to the Somali community. He pleaded with them to discourage others from settling in Lewiston. He said:
“Please pass the word: We have been overwhelmed and have responded valiantly. Now we need breathing room. Our city is maxed-out financially, physically and emotionally.”
The letter received nationwide attention, and sparked a firestorm. Racial tensions increased. Religious tensions increased, Lewiston is one of the most Franco cities in the US and heavily Catholic. The Somalis were Muslim. Things have died down now, more than ten years later, but it hasn’t been an easy ride.
Do not despise an Edomite, for the Edomites are related to you. Do not despise an Egyptian, because you resided as foreigners in their country. (Deuteronomy 23:7)
Tensions arise and issues exist among legal immigrants when they pour in to one location in a sort space of time. What of illegal immigration? The lure of free stuff, a better life, and/or safety still draws people. The current immigration crisis at the Mexican border with the United States began in early June. Here is some news:
Illegal women, kids swarm US via Mexico after home countries report Obama ‘amnesty,’ free legal aid
Driven by an agricultural disaster and lured by news reports in their home countries that a feckless Obama administration has essentially declared amnesty for illegal aliens, thousands of women and children are flooding holding centers in Texas and Arizona. Since being overwhelmed by an influx of illegal immigrants at the Texas-Mexico border last month, including huge numbers of children unaccompanied by adults, the Department of Homeland Security has been transporting migrants – by bus and plane — from the Rio Grande Valley in Texas to sites in Arizona, The Associated Press reported. The immigrants are mainly coming from Central America, which makes it more difficult to deport them than just sending them back to Mexico.
“They keep coming. This will not stop. The call has gone out to Central American countries, countries abroad, that if you get here the doors are open,” Wilder said. KRGV Channel 5, in the border town of McAllen, Texas, reported that migrants from Central American countries like Guatemala are hearing news reports at home that mothers with children are being welcomed in the U.S. with plane and bus tickets to the interior.
In 2011 when North Africa lit up in warfare, (Libya, Egypt, Algeria)…hordes of refugees fled from Tripoli to the tiny Italian island of Lampedusa, 70 miles away. 10,000 per month were flooding in. Lampedusa’s total area is 7 sq miles big. That’s it.
But the island was overwhelmed by a surge of more than 30,000 migrants between February and April this year. Aid workers based on the island say the situation, although difficult, has since improved. (source)
The island lies closer to mainland Africa — only 80 km from the Tunisian coast — than Italy, making it a key gateway for migrants searching for a way into Europe. Lampedusa’s 6,000 residents are often outnumbered by thousands of migrants housed in improvised camps on the island. (source)
Just like with the Somalis to Lewiston in 2001, once the call goes out about ease of entry, whether true or not, and once the call goes out that plenty of free stuff awaits the immigrants, whether true or not, it is hard to stem the flow. Remember, Isaiah said the wicked are like the restless sea.
But the wicked are like the tossing sea, which cannot rest, (Isaiah 57:20).
“Word has gotten out around the world about President Obama’s lax immigration enforcement policies and it has encouraged more individuals to come to the United States illegally,” said Rep. Bob Goodlatte, the chair of the House Judiciary Committee, in a statement last week. The White House had pushed back on that claim — until now. Their reversal comes after a Border Patrol memo, obtained and distributed by the conservative Center for Immigration Studies said the main reason migrants traveled to the U.S. was to “to take advantage of the ‘new’ U.S. law that grants a free pass or permit” from the U.S. government. Other reasons included gang violence, economic opportunity, and domestic abuse. (source)
|Winslow Homer “Northeaster” 1895
That means they are without hope. Sinners escaping sin. Hopeless people more than anyone else need to reach a dream, need to seek a gleam of light somewhere in their dark world. What they grasp will be illusions and foam, striving after wind, even if they DO make it in and find a place to settle. But they don’t know this. So they try. They come.
They have no hope in Jesus, no certainty of His promises for this world and the next. Worse still, they live in grinding, generational poverty, terror-inducing generational war violence, or subsistence farming where one bug can wipe out a life’s work. No wonder at the drop of a hat they’ll get on a bus with their child and head north to the land of opportunity.
June 16, 2014: This year, the number of migrant children U.S. officials will apprehend along the border is expected to triple, according Customs and Border Protection. According to the memo, more than 90,000 migrant children are expected to be apprehended this year — and possibly as many as 140,000 next year. The number of unaccompanied children grabbed by border agents already grew by more than 10,000 from 2012 to 2013.
The situation is rapidly becoming a humanitarian crisis. Every day, hundreds of children cross the border, mostly making their way from violence-stricken areas in Honduras, Guatemala, and El Salvador. They have overwhelmed Border Patrol resources significantly in the Rio Grande area, and many migrants have been sent to processing facilities in Arizona. The causes for the influx are many, but a large portion are children fleeing increased drug and gang violence. (source)
|Winslow Homer “The Life Line“
The situation at the border is a humanitarian crisis as well as a legal nightmare. How or why it is happening is less of an immediate concern than exists the problem of what to do. These are human beings, ‘foreigners residing among us’ as the bible says. Some are met with compassion. Others are met with anger.
Last week, it was reported from Florida that,
With more than 51,000 unaccompanied Central American children already here, and more expected to come, school officials ask the federal government for a helping hand. Border kids costs more to educate, about $1,900 per head. Teachers must be bilingual. The students will need health care and psychological services because many arrive sick and traumatized by things they’ve seen and experienced on their journeys north
There is no doubt that sudden mass displacements either from refugees or immigrants, legal or otherwise, destabilize countries. Last month, Reuters reported from Iraq.
U.N. cites destabilizing risk of mass Iraqi refugee exodus
A senior U.N. humanitarian official on Tuesday flagged the risk of a mass exodus of Iraqi refugees from sectarian bloodshed overwhelming nearby countries already reeling from nearly 3 million uprooted Syrians. … “Looking at the situation of the countries of the region, I mean Syria is obviously not a possible destination (for Iraqi refugees), Jordan is now having the enormous pressure of the Syrian refugees,” Guterres said. “So it’s difficult to see how the region can cope with another big refugee outflow.
Two weeks ago, it was reported that,
Syrian Refugee Crisis Destabilizes Jordan
Almost 2 million people have fled Syria since the civil war began in early 2011, according to U.N. numbers. By some estimates 800,000 of these poured into neighboring Jordan, a traditional safe haven for refugees from previously war-stricken regions such as Iraq and Palestine. This influx is taking a heavy toll on the Arab nation which by the end of the year may host as many as a million refugees. Instability in Jordan creates a dangerous situation for the region.
So in addition to the humanitarian crisis, the legal crisis, the political crisis, there now perhaps may be a threat to the stability of the United States through destabilizing the nation with a tsunami of refugees from Central America. Though in the face of the massive and longer term displacements from Syria and Iraq, and now Gaza, the few thousand along the lengthy US border can be put into a different perspective.It’s not so many people. And Turkey and Jordan are handling their thousands inflowing than we are handling our hundreds.
|Winslow Homer “High Cliff” 1894
What are we to do? Is this the proper response?
The national controversy over a surge of Central American immigrants illegally crossing the U.S. border established a new battleground this week in a small Southern California town, where angry crowds stopped detained migrants from entering their community. The sentiment carried over to a raucous Wednesday night meeting at a Murrieta high school auditorium. Border Patrol and immigration officials got an earful. “This is an invasion,” attendee Heidi Klute said before a full house. “Why isn’t the National Guard stopping them from coming in?”
Not just Californians are angry, not just Floridians, but Texans as well. One woman at a raucous town meeting said, “What we see is not immigration, but an invasion, a deliberate invasion.”
When resources are scarce, people react with anger and fear. 9/11 changed Americans’ attitudes toward immigration, fewer believed it was a good thing for the US overall. 68% down to about half, 52%. (Wikipedia). With strange diseases popping up, and with the extreme drought already stretching local resources, residents react angrily.
And truly, if they had been mindful of that country from whence they came out, they might have had opportunity to have returned. But now they desire a better country, that is, an heavenly: wherefore God is not ashamed to be called their God: for he hath prepared for them a city. (Hebrews 11:15-16)
I do not have the answers. All I can offer is a historical perspective on nations, people-movements, and reasons for such restless seas. What is happening in the southern part of the US is not anything new. It isn’t particularly invasive, either, compared to the influx to Jordan and Turkey from Syria, and Lampedusa from Egypt and Libya. I can offer the biblical verses that shows Jesus wants us to be compassionate and to show hospitality. I know it’s easy for me to say that far from the areas of tension. My water isn’t running out. My services aren’t stretched to the limit. My fears of crime or disease aren’t ignited. But isn’t that an opportunity for Christians in those areas to practice peace, love, and hospitality? Isn’t it an opportunity to show that we know we are not of this nation, we ourselves are sojourners and strangers. We long for a better country, we yearn to be reunited with our friends and families in heaven.
Yet…it is a fact that the bible also says to submit to the authorities. We can’t violate civil law. John MacArthur was asked about illegal immigrants in 1985-
Answering Tough Questions About the Christian and Government
WHAT ABOUT ILLEGAL ALIENS AND REFUGEES WHO ARE ILLEGAL IN THE COUNTRY, SHOULD THE CHURCH HARBOR THEM?
You might not realize this but we have had to deal with that not on a few occasions, of people who have come into the United States, for example, across the Mexican border or from Latin America, they come to California, they come to Los Angeles, they come to Grace Community Church, they come to a Bible study or whatever, perhaps in the Spanish department, they come to know Jesus Christ, they are saved, they become a part of the church and then we discover they’re here illegally. What is our responsibility?
Well the position we have taken on that is that our responsibility is to report them as illegal but do all we can to demonstrate that there are means to maintain their residence and presence and stand along side in any way we can to assist and help. But again, not to harbor them in violation of the law.
Now somebody is going to say, “Well, I mean, if they go back they’re not going to have any Christian friends, and so forth and so forth and so on.” The issue is not that, the issue is you obey what God says and you trust Him to take care of the circumstances. If we had a God who couldn’t be trusted, we might have a little problem here, right? If we had a God who couldn’t take care of them without us, we might worry about it. And so it becomes a situation where we need to go to the authorities and let them know what the situation is. We had a young man in a very unique situation some years ago. Came to the United States because he had kidney failure, couldn’t get dialysis in Mexico. Came to the United States, found here the ability to live and was saved, became a part of Grace Community Church and there he was an undocumented illegal alien, desperately in need to be here not only for spiritual reasons but for physical ones as well. And I don’t remember all the details of the situation except my memory serves to point out the fact that we did everything we could with the authorities who are not without some compassion and he was able to stay until eventually, I believe, he went to be with the Lord.
And behold, a lawyer stood up to put him to the test, saying, “Teacher, what shall I do to inherit eternal life?” He said to him, “What is written in the Law? How do you read it?” And he answered, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind, and your neighbor as yourself.” And he said to him, “You have answered correctly; do this, and you will live.” But he, desiring to justify himself, said to Jesus, “And who is my neighbor?” (Luke 10:25-29).
That is the question. Who is my neighbor? Where is the peaceful shore?
Todd Friel of Wretched Radio had a short word, regarding the children of this current immigration influx
Immigration and the Christian: Should we send them all back?