This Friday,July 1, the state of Georgia will enact one of the toughest immigration laws in the country. The law permits state and local officials to request proof of being in this country legally if they have reason to suspect anyone they apprehend. In January 2012, the law also requires employers to ask for secure and documented proof of legal residence from those they employ.
Opponents to the law clamor it is a form of profiling and some wording has already been stricken from the law by a judicial ruling.(although much of the basic law is unchanged.) I wondered as a Christian what type of response one should have to this new rule and this is my take on the issue.
Asking to provide proof of citizenship is no more a profiling act than asking someone to produce documentation of marriage, education status or even asking someone to take a sobriety test. According to FAIR the illegal population in Georgia increased nearly 4x the legal immigration population in recent years and while some illegal immigrants do pay taxes, many take advantage of our country’s resources and infrastructure including health care, education and housing without contributing to the upkeep of funds.
Farmers may be frustrated because they will now have to locate workers who may demand higher wages and the demographics of entire school districts and neighborhoods may be changed. But, I wonder, Is this such a bad thing? Am I am more responsible Christian if I permit those who have entered the country illegally to continue their devious and deceptive practices or if I am willing to pay a higher price for my groceries because a worker demanded a fairer wage do a job someone who entered this country illegally did cheaply?
Yes, family dynamics may be severely affected by this law but family dynamics are always affected by illicit and illegal behavior. People must face the consequences of their choices. And while the vast majority of those affected may be Hispanic, anyone who chooses to come into our country illegally can be prosecuted whether they have crossed a border or crossed an ocean. Am I a more responsible Christian when I want to keep those who may want to undermine my nation, learn my culture and perhaps plan for my country’s demise from being here illegally or when I chose to live among those who have taken the appropriate road to being part of America? Yes, not everyone here illegally is resorting to harm me nor is everyone who is a legal citizen harmless, but if someone knowingly breaks a law, does this give me more reason to trust their long term intentions?
My reaction to Georgia’s new law is simple. All Christians believe man is created in God’s image, but we also believe there is a road one takes when committing to Christianity which depends on upholding beliefs and taking a specific course of action, following basic guidelines and demonstrating an adherence to certain commandments. There is also a road one takes when wanting to call another country, “home”. This road too, requires following some guidelines and rules. I am all for permitting legal immigration. Our country would never have been successful had it not been for the melting pot of cultures that arrived on our shores long ago. But then, specific guidelines and rules needed adhered to and it should be no different now.
Are there evil legal immigrants?…of course! Are there evil natural citizens?…you bet! Are there good and noble illegal immigrants?…most probably. But good and noble people do not choose to lie or deceive or hide from the law as this demonstrates a weak and untrustworthy demeanor. Choosing to disregard rules and regulations does not make me feel comfortable about someone’s character regardless of circumstances. If everyone were permitted to take whatever path they wanted to achieve a goal, our lives would often be at risk and chaos would be the norm. Like Christians have commandments to help them know right from wrong, countries have regulations to help its citizens recognize appropriate from unacceptable behavior.
My role as a responsible Christian is to ask anyone who seeks a better opportunity to take the same road others who had the same dream did and go through all the appropriate channels to make my home, your home.
There is nothing wrong with prosecuting those who break a law or asking those we suspect of breaking a law to defend themselves by showing documentation. Laws ask me to prove I have a driver’s license if I am approached by law enforcement when driving, Laws ask me to prove I pay taxes and to demonstrate I have no criminal background when I seek employment. If you have nothing to hide, asking for some documentation doesn’t seem different than what most people are asked to demonstrate regularly.
It’s sometimes a gray area to know what our responsibility is as Christians in cases where we see individuals who just want to improve their lives. I say, improving your life means being honest, upright and obeying laws because if you can’t do that, you not only have failed to truly improve your life, you have failed to demonstrate that is your sincere goal.