Obama Grants Young Immigrants Reprieve

Obama Grants Young Immigrants Reprieve

IMMIGRATION SHIFT: President Barack Obama delivers remarks on the Department of Homeland Security’s immigration announcement in the Rose Garden of the White House, June 15, 2012. (Official White House Photo by Sonya N. Hebert)

President Obama announced June 15 that the Department of Homeland Security will stop targeting young undocumented immigrants for deportation under certain circumstances.

Deferrals for Immigrant Children

“Under the new policy, people younger than 30 who came to the United States before the age of 16, pose no criminal or security threat, and were successful students or served in the military can get a two-year deferral from deportation,” CNN reported. It also allows these immigrants to apply for work permits if they are currently in the United States and can prove that they have been for at least five years, the article said.

Renewed Support from Evangelicals

The president’s announcement follows a June 12 announcement that more than 100 Evangelical leaders have signed a Statement of Principles for Immigration Reform. The statement calls for “a bipartisan solution on immigration” that respects human dignity and the rule of law, protects family unity, guarantees secure borders, ensures fairness to taxpayers, and establishes a “path toward legal status and/or citizenship for those who qualify and who wish to become permanent residents.”

‘Path to Citizenship’ Controversial

Christianity Today reported that only the path to citizenship point “is likely to touch on anything controversial,” because “the other five principles represent values that the vast majority of Americans believe should drive immigration reform.”

Focus on the Family Joins the Fight

The Los Angeles Times reported that although evangelical leaders like Southern Baptist Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission president Richard Land and National Association of Evangelicals president Leith Anderson have supported immigration reform for several years, this is the first time that Focus on the Family has affirmed support for the issue.

‘Political Cover’ for President Obama

At The Daily Beast, David Sessions opined that “thanks to an emerging coalition of religious leaders, [immigration reform] might be the only issue where there is plausible common ground to be shared between the White House and the GOP base.” Perhaps he is correct. CNN described Evangelical and Catholic support for reform as “political cover” for the president.

Whether Obama’s political move will win him votes or backfires is the subject of a roundup at The Week, should you care about such things.

Gov. Romney’s ‘Tricky Balancing Act’

On Sunday, Presidential hopeful Mitt Romney told “Face the Nation’s” Bob Schieffer that  “if [Obama] really wanted to make a solution that dealt with these kids or with illegal immigration in America, than this is something he would have taken up in his first three and a half years, not in his last few months,” The Washington Post reported.

Today, CBS described Romney’s position on the issue as “a tricky balancing act”  of “aggressively courting the Hispanic vote, which could be decisive in the election” while holding on to his “conservative base that wants tough immigration policies.”

Impacted Immigrants Have Questions

Meanwhile, the young undocumented immigrants that the law directly impacts have questions, according to the Associated Press. They want to know: “Is it too good to be true? How will it actually work? What are the risks or pitfalls?”

 What Do You Think?

Should young people whose parents brought them to the United States illegally be eligible for a path to citizenship?

Ruth the Illegal Immigrant

Ruth the Illegal Immigrant for Urban FaithIn the Old Testament, her testimony stands out as an example of great love, sacrifice, and redemption. But was Ruth the Moabite breaking the law?

Every once in a while I get an “aha” moment and I can’t turn my mind off, thus preventing me from a good night’s sleep. Last night’s “aha” moment came as I was reflecting on the issue of comprehensive immigration reform.

The tendency of faith leaders advocating for a compassionate approach to immigrants is to appeal to the numerous “be kind to strangers” texts in the Hebrew Scriptures. The problem with this approach is that it elicits a universal response from the other side, “Yes, but those were legal immigrants. I’m talking about illegal immigrants. Since illegal immigrants are lawbreakers, they shouldn’t have any rights. And if you think they should, you’re just another godless liberal seeking to undermine the moral fabric of America … etc., etc.” It occurred to me that one of the most famous and beloved women in the entire Bible was an “illegal” immigrant. Her name was Ruth.

I’m not making this up. Deuteronomy 23:3 is clear, “An Ammonite or Moabite shall not enter the assembly of the Lord; even to the tenth generation none of his descendants shall enter the assembly of the Lord forever.”

If you’re still not convinced that descendants of Moab were ordered to be excluded from the congregation of Israel, take a look at verse 6, which says, “You shall not seek their peace nor their prosperity all their days forever.” With this in mind, isn’t it strange that the hero in the story of Ruth is Boaz, a man that showed kindness to a Moabite woman? We look at the story today and know intuitively that Boaz was a hero, but we often forget that Boaz could have very well been considered a villain to the religious leaders of his day. After all, they might have said, the law forbids people like Ruth from being included in Israeli society — and they would have been right.

Kind of strange isn’t it? God writes a law and then commends people for breaking it? I can think of two other examples where this strange paradox occurs. One example is Joseph, the husband of Mary. Once Joseph discovered that his wife was pregnant with an illegitimate child, the Law of Moses said that Mary should have been stoned (Deuteronomy 22:20-21). Isn’t it a little odd then that the Holy Spirit, speaking through Matthew, calls Joseph a “just man” because he wanted to put her away secretly (Matthew 1:19)? Or how about when Jesus commended David for doing what was unlawful — his word, not mine — on the Sabbath because of a pressing human need (Mark 2:25-26)?

Yes, we’re supposed to respect the law, and I’m not saying that undocumented immigrants are right to break into the United States illegally (I happen to believe that nations do have a right to protect their borders); but there comes a time when we have to ask the question of how much should “respect for the law” determine a Christian’s response to those that suffer from economic forces beyond their control?

Let’s not forget that it was famine and death (read: economic hardship) that compelled Ruth to migrate with her mother-in-law Naomi. The same story could be told millions of times over today. If God commended people for breaking God’s own laws because of compassion for their fellow human beings, what might God think of people today that challenge human laws for reasons of compassion? Think about it.