This is despite the fact that my father is exactly the type of immigrant that the U.S. and many western countries want. He assimilated into the dominant culture quickly. He is fluent in English. He is well educated, consistently employed, diligently pays his taxes, and obeys the law.
My father is also white. Looking at him you would never know that he is a foreigner, a resident alien living amongst us. Looking at me, you would never guess that I am the son of an immigrant and dual citizen.
As the child of an immigrant, our president’s recent executive order hit close to home. Although my father is not directly affected by the order (and probably never will be), this most recent order adds another layer of anxiety for my father, and my family. And we know that what we experience cannot even compare to what others are experiencing already.
As a citizen of the United States, I am outraged. We are a nation of deeply troubled history, a history that includes angry, often violent, backlash against immigrants in every generation. Growing up in Washington, I lived alongside the legacy of Japanese internment camps. Studying in Boston, I heard the stories of an era of “Irish need not apply.” These were actions stemming from fear. It seems that once again, our national policy stems from fear.
As a Christian, I am called to action. By my count, the scriptures unique to Christianity, and that Christianity and Judaism hold in common, call upon us to care for and welcome strangers, foreigners, aliens, immigrants, and refugees at least 100 times. Hospitality and compassion for aliens in our midst is Biblical. It is as clear of a mandate in scripture as feeding the hungry.
As Christians we also remember that Jesus spent his early years as a refugee; fleeing political violence, Jesus, Mary, and Joseph found sanctuary in Egypt.
Trapped in the middle of our president’s recent actions are refugees fleeing truly horrific circumstances. Refugees are truly “the least of these” among immigrants. Refugees truly are those whom Jesus spoke of in Matthew 25 when he said “I was a stranger, and you welcomed me.”
I agree with so many that safety is important. But as Christians we are called to not allow our fear of the other to supersede our Biblical duty of compassion. Right now our sisters and brothers of many faiths need us to use our strong voices. Our nation needs our witness to compassion. Our leaders need to hear from the Church.
I recognize that we are in a difficult moment in the history of our nation, with many complicated and potentially divisive issues boiling over. I also recognize that we as a church are not of one mind on this issue or many others. So in the days ahead of us I welcome your further conversation.
Grace and peace to you,