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Lord, make me an instrument of your peace . . .

27 January 2015


Exodus 20:10 NIV

but the seventh day is a Sabbath to the LORD your God. On it you shall not do any work, neither you, nor your son or daughter, nor your manservant or maidservant, nor your animals, nor the alien within your gates.

Exodus 22:21 NIV

"Do not mistreat an alien or oppress him, for you were aliens in Egypt.

Exodus 23:9 NIV

"Do not oppress an alien; you yourselves know how it feels to be aliens, because you were aliens in Egypt.

Exodus 23:12 NIV

"Six days do your work, but on the seventh day do not work, so that your ox and your donkey may rest and the slave born in your household, and the alien as well, may be refreshed.

Deuteronomy 24:14 NIV

Do not take advantage of a hired man who is poor and needy, whether he is a brother Israelite or an alien living in one of your towns.  
Do not deprive the alien or the fatherless of justice, or take the cloak of the widow as a pledge. 
When you are harvesting in your field and you overlook a sheaf, do not go back to get it. Leave it for the alien, the fatherless and the widow, so that the LORD your God may bless you in all the work of your hands.
When you beat the olives from your trees, do not go over the branches a second time. Leave what remains for the alien, the fatherless and the widow.
When you harvest the grapes in your vineyard, do not go over the vines again. Leave what remains for the alien, the fatherless and the widow.
When you have finished setting aside a tenth of all your produce in the third year, the year of the tithe, you shall give it to the Levite, the alien, the fatherless and the widow, so that they may eat in your towns and be satisfied.

and so on . . .
I picked all of these Old Testament quotes for the reason that many of our so-called Christian friends seem to prefer to quote the Old Testament to justify their positions on a whole range of subjects.  I just thought that it would be instructive, in light of the current angst over the immigration issue, to remind everyone what our Holy Scripture says about the immigrant. 
What I find troubling is that so many of the loudest objectors to any updating of the country's immigration policy claim to be Christian.  These few, and a whole list of other quotations, clearly indicate that people of Good Will should be concerned about the most vulnerable among them and this includes the immigrant.  The last quote is the most revealing.  Until the needs of the priests, alien, orphan and widow are met, the good worshiper cannot even consider their obligation has been fulfilled. (That's in the verse which follows.)  Matthew 25 writes about the "least of these my brothers" indicating that our first obligation as Christians after loving God is to care for those who are less fortunate than ourselves ("preferential option for the poor" as the Bishops called it).
When we begin to look at the immigration situation in our country, we need to consider our calling as believers and people of Good Will who live out the tenets of our faith enumerated in the Holy Scriptures.  How can we care for those from other countries who come to us for shelter, work, help, and safety?
Some are eternally upset that we have some 11 million non-citizens who are taking away the jobs of needy Americans.  But no one seems to ever ask the simple question of why they are here in the first place.  Generally, I believe that it's because of the jobs that they are hired to do and a very low wage that "normal" Americans refuse to do, e.g., pick crops, slaughter animals, house maids, and so on.  They wouldn't come if someone wouldn't hire them in the first place.  We want low prices for vegetables, fruits, meats, and the service industries, but complain because these jobs are filled by non-citizens who wouldn't be here unless they were hired in the first place.  I suggest that if there were no jobs available - no benefits available, it wouldn't make any sense for them to travel so far to be in the same situation that they had in their home countries.  Someone hires them, albeit under the table, so they come.  How many of these loudest antagonists utilized the services of these non-citizens anyway?  Talk about hypocrisy!
Once again to find the source of the problem, we must look in the mirror.  As Pogo famously stated, "We have found the enemy, and he is us!"  Our security comes from consistently and fairly applying the laws of this county to all, including the businesses and their owners who constantly subvert our immigration rules by hiring non-citizens at less that fair wages to do the menial work that apparently only they will do.  So, can the welfare issue be solved by making people work these jobs?  Partially - Perhaps - but not without the willingness to help people relocate to where these jobs are; but not without providing decent housing for the relocated people; but not without providing them living wages, so they can get their own housing and provide for their families.  But. the same should be true for anyone on a "worker visa". 
If we cannot provide economic security for people through good work, then something is definitely wrong with our economy.  The few shouldn't be taking the lions share of the benefits - those who actually do the work must be able to adequately provide for their families.  "Decision makers" really don't have that much skin in the game as it were.  Making a good or bad decision does affect the overall business results, but the people who do the work really have much more invested in a good result. i.e., it can ensure them of continued employment and thus providing for their families.  Henry Ford had it right when he went to the $5 @ day wage in the 20's.  Pay a living wage and everything in the economy improves.  After all, people who make the money, the workers, will spend it and because about 70% of GDP is due to this consumer spending (BLS OCT 2014) it makes a strong impact on our economy. (But I digress; this will be the topic of another day's notes.)
"Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.
Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me,
I lift my lamp beside the golden door!"

 So it says on the Statue of Liberty.  We are and always have been a nation of immigrants.  We must remember, like Moses reminded the Israelites in  the passages at the beginning, that all of our ancestors came here from some place else - even the Native Americans migrated across the Bering Strait a long time ago.  All of our ancestors came here for the same reason - to find better opportunity for themselves and their families.  Yes, we must have regulations, but they must be tempered with compassion, understanding, and generosity.  And we must find a way to help those already here to normalize their relationship with the country and provide reasonable access to others who wish to come to our country.  Just saying "NO" (better known as border security) is not an acceptable response.  Look in the mirror and come to a reasonable, compassionate solution for these issues without the hypocrisy, prejudice,  and fear displayed in many of today's commentaries.

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