Wednesday, July 30, 2014

A two part look at the southern US border situation and influx of people: part 2

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?

--------------------

Further Consideration:

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?


8 comments:

  1. First of all I would say that NAFTA was implemented and allowed to cause a positive growth in these neighboring counties. In actuality what it did was allow large US corporations to circumvent US regulation and to exploit the poverty south of the border.
    My point? If we are to be a good neighbor what is being done to help stem those conditions causing the exodus?
    This is a problem that exist in some part because of sin in America. The church has allowed the abortion industry to not only exist but to thrive. The same people who believe that we need to care for these children and call it a humanitarian effort, are the same ones who blatantly dispose of millions each year through abortion.
    Government funded murder of children who by far are put away because of inconvenience.
    Here is the other issue, I the Almighty deems it proper for a person or a group to be chastened because of sin, who am I, without His consent seek to get in the way? I for one have had to reassess my intervention, not because I lack compassion but when looking at how that help has been received, what is the resulting condition.
    I have, but not exhaustively, put out the word to Maine lawmakers and some in Texas to repent of abortion and close those clinics shift those government funds to the "humanitarian" effort.
    Crickets, not a word sound or peep from them. The world is lost and dying without Christ their is no remedy.
    The 501 (c) 3 causes blindness and the kind of dementia that we see around us in the "church".
    Oh, by the way the catholic church was behind bring those people to Lewiston. It has been part of the hidden agenda within it as a Babylonian Mystery religion to bring everyone under the control of the anti-christ. It is called conditioning.
    Most of those who immigrated that I have had contact with are thankful honorable people. More so I would say than the government that allowed it. It has brought with it problems there is no doubt.
    Look around, they who you see are your neighbors. Where is the peaceful shore?
    Revelation 21:21 And the twelve gates were twelve pearls: every several gate was of one pearl: and the street of the city was pure gold, as it were transparent glass.

    22 And I saw no temple therein: for the Lord God Almighty and the Lamb are the temple of it.

    23 And the city had no need of the sun, neither of the moon, to shine in it: for the glory of God did lighten it, and the Lamb is the light thereof.

    24 And the nations of them which are saved shall walk in the light of it: and the kings of the earth do bring their glory and honour into it.

    25 And the gates of it shall not be shut at all by day: for there shall be no night there.

    26 And they shall bring the glory and honour of the nations into it.

    27 And there shall in no wise enter into it any thing that defileth, neither whatsoever worketh abomination, or maketh a lie: but they which are written in the Lamb's book of life.

    22 And he shewed me a pure river of water of life, clear as crystal, proceeding out of the throne of God and of the Lamb.

    2 In the midst of the street of it, and on either side of the river, was there the tree of life, which bare twelve manner of fruits, and yielded her fruit every month: and the leaves of the tree were for the healing of the nations.

    3 And there shall be no more curse: but the throne of God and of the Lamb shall be in it; and his servants shall serve him:

    4 And they shall see his face; and his name shall be in their foreheads.

    5 And there shall be no night there; and they need no candle, neither light of the sun; for the Lord God giveth them light: and they shall reign for ever and ever.

    6 And he said unto me, These sayings are faithful and true: and the Lord God of the holy prophets sent his angel to shew unto his servants the things which must shortly be done.

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  2. http://www.gotquestions.org/illegal-immigration.html

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    1. That's a good essay. It confirms what MacArthur said in the excerpt I posted above.

      GotQuestionswrote: "Caring for the poor, orphans, and widows is something the Bible commands us to do (Galatians 2:10; James 1:27; 2:2-15). However, the biblical fact that we are to care for the unfortunate does not mean we should violate the law in doing so."

      The following are my opinions:

      1. The issue about what the law IS remains in question, since it has been changed and things are in flux. Amnesty in particular complicates matters. It is a legal problem of mammoth proportions. I didn't write about that in the essay because it got complicated real fast, bub did appreciate the stance MacArthur explained. We are to obey civil authorities.

      2. Compassion is called for during the time the widows, orphans, etc are detained in US facilities. We are to be hospitable. These are human beings after all.

      3. Though there are many illegal immigrants coming this past month, I do not think it is a deliberate destabilizing action on the part of our top officials, as some conspiracy theorists have proposed.

      4. I do not think that the US is destabilized by this influx at present, though the services down south are certainly stretched.

      Thank you for the link. I would have appreciated some sort of thought process, comment, or additional opinion from you, either about what is written here, or what is written in the link. Conversation is what it's all about

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    2. I think there's a world of difference between people who emigrate here with the intent of obeying our laws and becoming productive citizens, and those who come here illegally with ill intent (including milking our welfare system, and yes people do actually do that, and it is a huge burden on the taxpayers).

      The first should be shown compassion and assistance, many are fleeing horrific circumstances, and want a safe place to live and work. That has historically been what made this country great - we have taken in the huddled masses yearning to be free. These people want to do it correctly, and should be given the opportunity.

      The second group (illegal/ill intent) should be addressed by our law enforcement agencies.

      The problem I see is - and correct me if I am wrong - that right now both groups are being lumped together into one category, and treated as "group one". I do not believe blanket amnesty is the answer, because it opens the door for those with ill intent to have free reign. I've read accounts of all sorts of havoc going on in the cities and towns that are on our southern border. All countries in the world have the right to have secure borders, requirements for citizenship, and consequences for breaking these laws.

      There has always been a legal means to live here, work here, and become a US citizen. That's never been the question.

      I do have personal friends who are not US citizens, but rather are foreigners living here, but they have made sure to do everything to be here legally.

      So I see what is going on with our southern border to be a serious breach, because blanket amnesty has been given. It will affect us all, sooner or later.

      -Carolyn (sorry for posting the gotquestions link without my name, it's been one of those days...)

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    3. I love your answer and I agree 100%!

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  3. Let me throw something out there that I observed this morning in the same book and chapter of Leviticus.

    V’s- 9,10 of chapter 19; When you reap the harvest of your land, you shall not reap your field right up to its edge, neither shall you gather the gleanings after your harvest. 10 And you shall not strip your vineyard bare, neither shall you gather the fallen grapes of your vineyard. You shall leave them for the poor and for the sojourner: I am the Lord your God.

    NOTICE if you will, that the Lord God did NOT tell His people the Jews to give them ALL their crops! He essentially said just follow my instructions on this and the poor among you will have some level of provisions!

    Consider my analogy that was recently developed a few days ago; “I hear that YOU have a really nice setting at your homestead. Therefore without any input from you I am going to take it upon myself to come over with some folks that I will gather up and camp out in YOUR yard! Word will eventually get out on this and even more people will come to camp out. In spite of laws against this, at some point you will be overwhelmed to the point that your Biblical responsibility to provide for yourself and family will sustain a serious crises to the point of being just like the campers. Moreover, if one of the intruders climbed in my window at 2 in the morning, then I would have a serious threat to deal with. I would probably be at some level of fear or at least on the high alert mode. We would then need to deal with the immediate threat before even considering love, compassion, and mercy”.

    Another thought that I have to continuously wrestle through here in metro Atlanta is the scores of homeless folks. It seems like everywhere you turn they are there asking for help or funds! I can NOT help them all, though I do believe that I must help as many as I can within reason. If it were exclusively about mercy and compassion or equality then go sell all you have and join them.

    Not to boast here my friend, but as Paul mentioned his credentials with the hope of making an impact for TRUTH, I too may humbly share that DAILY evangelism IS a hallmark of my redeemed life! I sincerely care enough to share the gospel of Jesus Christ with ALL people, including the love speech that if they die in their sins they SHALL end up in hell!

    The guy that would climb in my window at 2 in the morning would likewise hear the gospel if the Lord gave me the opportunity in some fashion unknown to me, but the very first thing unless the Lord God overruled (which I would hope that He would), the guy may be taking a trip to the morgue (NOT implying even the slightest hint on immigration, NOR any other issue!).

    Mercy, compassion, meeting people where they are at with hospitality and the gospel! ABSOLUTELY! Just that it is not, anything goes! In closing, I did listen to the link by “Todd Friel of Wreched Radio”. I agree with him, and we need too, to consider these truths in our dealings with others on a case by case basis.

    Love in Jesus Christ,

    Brother Rick
    Metro Atlanta

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    1. thanks so much Rick. I go back and forth on it. I agree with Mr Friel, but on the other hand how are we to know *when* to disobey the law in the cause of compassion? Though in this particular case with the immigrant children, it seems easier. it's just a tough situation all around.

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    2. I think I would counsel one in your described situation as follows:

      IF you have been moving in God’ Word the Bible daily and therefore having a demonstration of the fruit of the Spirit in and through your redeemed life, fervent focused prayer - then we can only trust that the Holy Spirit will lead us in His divine ordered steps. As I have given thought many times on how the Holy Spirit leads in any given situation, I have concluded that unlike the sensationalist that seek some form of mystical and dramatic manifestation, we just get moving the best we know how and trusting that the Lord God is guiding us. I have found that OFTEN times we are NOT even fully aware of how the Lord has lead us until later and we are able to look back and see!

      Moreover, you MAY be called upon by the Lord God to take a stand on any given situation, maybe to the point of even standing ALONE in your humanity. You may have to not only pay a price for this, but maybe a huge price may be required. I also think it wise to count the costs, to consider the counsel of a doctrinally sound fellow saint, and be careful not to jump into something to quickly as a general policy. Lastly, I have found, that if something is popular then it very well may be a lie. Of course there are likely other important factors but these are a few of the things that immediately come to mind after reading your reply.

      Thought:
      “A little leaven leaveneth the whole loaf” or a small drop of poison can kill you, an Ebola trace too - can kill you. Watch out for any mixture of truth with error is my point.

      PS, We can not rescue humanity or render aid in EVERY sad circumstance in this fallen world :>( , but the Lord God will rescue all that the Father has given Him one day - and SOON!

      Come Lord Jesus :>),
      Rick
      Metro Atlanta

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