For the United States to address its immigration problems, it must get to the core of the issue.
Subscribe to the Real Truth for FREE news and analysis.Subscribe Now
America is a nation of “rights.” In the past 50 years, the United States has had to contend with virtually every rights movement imaginable: civil rights, students’ rights, abortion rights, disabilities rights, gun ownership rights, women’s rights, homosexual rights, victims’ rights.
And now, immigrants’ rights.
It is estimated that 11 to 12 million foreigners live and work in the U.S. illegally, with 500,000 to 1 million aliens migrating to America every year. Largely fleeing from poverty and unemployment in their native countries, many are poorly educated and work menial, low-paying jobs that most native-born Americans will not accept.
Emerging from this underground workforce is a collective voice that is demanding its “rights”—the right to amnesty—the right to pay in-state college tuition rates—the right to citizenship. That voice was heard in the streets of Washington, D.C., New York, Boston, Phoenix, Atlanta, Los Angeles, San Francisco, San Diego and other U.S. cities. Teeming masses of activists—numbered in tens and hundreds of thousands—protested against congressional plans to crack down on illegal immigrants.
Illegal immigration is a controversial issue that is being hotly debated between—and within—the ranks of Republicans and Democrats. Politicians fear it will be a key issue in the November 2006 midterm elections.
Most Republicans seeking re-election must play to their conservative base and call for stronger immigration laws. Yet this will be at the risk of losing Hispanic voters, a key voting bloc for the midterm elections. (In the 2004 presidential election, President George W. Bush received an estimated 40% of Hispanic votes.)
The Republicans also realize that enacting tougher immigration reforms could diminish the support of businesses. With fewer workers available to take on low-paying jobs, wages will go up, and profit margins will go down.
The Democrats must also walk a political balancing act. Will they risk aligning themselves with the president, who advocates guest-worker programs and other incentives for illegal aliens—and miss an opportunity to set themselves apart from the current administration?
U.S. congressional lawmakers are divided between two opposing camps, with many liberals and conservatives strangely finding they agree on this issue. Yet even among those who agree, proposals vary as to how to resolve the problem.
On one side of the debate are those who support reforms that benefit “undocumented workers.” Plans range from opposing any immigration restrictions—to amnesty for illegal aliens (or for employers willing to sponsor them) and for their spouses and children—to temporary guest-worker programs—to allowing additional “temporary workers” and their families into the country—to legalizing the 12 million illegals already living in the U.S.—to giving illegal students amnesty and free college educations.
(Ironically, some activists protest the use of the word “amnesty” because it denotes that a crime has been committed. Others would argue that when one lives and works in a country illegally, a crime has been committed—the law has been broken.)
Meanwhile, House and Senate lawmakers are also keenly aware of the growing tide of Minutemen groups, private citizens who police America’s southern border and confront illegal workers in cities throughout the nation. These groups advocate tighter controls for the 2,000-mile U.S.-Mexican border—especially in light of the lurking, ever-present threat of Islamic terrorists slipping through.-->
Speaking to the news media, a Minuteman border watch leader gave the president an ultimatum: Deploy military reserves and the National Guard to the Arizona border by May 25, or else private citizens will break ground to start building a fence.
Some have charged that a wall erected between Mexico and the U.S. would serve as a monument to American racism. Yet many immigrants who have come to the U.S. legally have joined the ranks of citizens who call for tougher immigration measures.
Congressmen who advocate cracking down on illegal immigration offer a wide range of proposals:
• Opposing any guest-worker program
• Increased funding for the U.S. Border Patrol and adding more federal agents
• Enabling local law enforcement to protect citizens from illegal immigration
• Requiring foreign countries to quickly accept their citizens back
• Denying “birthright citizenship” to newborn children of illegals
• Ending welfare benefits for illegal immigrants
• Building a fence along the U.S. border
• Prohibiting in-state education to the children of illegals
• Requiring certain businesses to verify, via a computerized system, an employee’s Social Security number
• Enforcing laws that forbid localities from preventing police from reporting immigration information
• Implementing a national exit-entry tracking system for all aliens (as mandated by the 1996 Illegal Immigration Reform and Immigrant Responsibility Act)
• Enacting stiffer penalties for alien smugglers
• Cracking down on the construction or financing of tunnels into the U.S.
• Authorizing the use of the armed forces on the border
• Preventing driver’s licenses issued to illegal immigrants from being used for federal purposes, such as boarding a plane
Much of America fears the prospect of 12 million illegal immigrants instantly receiving U.S. citizenship—including the right to vote.
Politicians are left with making decisions that will ultimately please almost no one, and will anger most.
There is a reason America is grappling with its ever-growing immigration problem. There is a reason commentators, politicians, bureaucrats and think tanks cannot agree on a solution. The country is feeling the effects of physical symptoms that have spiritual causes.
And the answers to spiritual causes are found in Scripture. Yet sadly, very few, including the leading scholars, thinkers and leaders of traditional Christianity, are aware of this.
To get a better understanding of America’s immigration headaches, we must first understand that, even since ancient times, nations and kingdoms have had to contend with growing populations of foreigners living among them.
Consider the beginning of the ancient nation of Israel. Even those who possess little biblical knowledge are familiar with the story of Joseph and his brothers, the family of Israel, coming to live in Egypt. At first, they were welcome. But after some years had passed—and as the Israelites began to reproduce faster than the Egyptians did—the rulers of Egypt began to see them as a threat. This fear led to Israel’s enslavement.
While most are familiar with the biblical account of God delivering them from slavery, few understand that the Jews consisted of only a fraction of the ancient Israelites. Israel was actually comprised of 12 tribes, which eventually divided into two distinct kingdoms: the house of Israel (led by the half-tribes of Ephraim and Manasseh) and the house of Judah (with parts of Levi, Benjamin and Simeon).
Years ago, immigrants came to this country to begin a new and better life. They believed in the American Dream: the idea that through hard work, courage and determination anyone could achieve prosperity. This and other work-ethic values were passed on to successive generations.
The American Dream did not immediately pan out for most immigrants, but their diligence and willingness to sacrifice for their families became an investment that yielded dividends in following generations. Life became much easier for their sons and daughters, grandchildren and great-grandchildren, who (because of their parents) were able to earn college degrees and pursue successful professions—engineering, finance, medicine, law, etc. It was once common for every new generation to aspire to live better than its parents did.
Becoming an American meant learning another language; learning and obeying the laws and customs of the land; embracing the U.S. over native countries and siding with America in war, including volunteering for military combat. Many believed that fighting for one’s country was a sure way to prove that his heart, soul and future were vested in it.
But today, the American Dream has radically changed—and some would argue shattered.
Many immigrants come to the U.S. to find a better life, while others come strictly for employment, sending their wages back home to their families in the native lands.
Foreigners once came to America to become Americans, to be “Americanized.” They instilled this desire in their children as they assimilated into society. Their culture fused into the greater American culture, which became the Great Melting Pot.
And that, many argue, is precisely why so many who come to the U.S. no longer desire to assimilate. They fear losing their national culture and traditions, their identity. And so they cling to their languages and customs, even to the point of expecting—even insisting—that street signs and driver’s tests and government forms be given in their native language. Speaking, reading and writing in English—once considered necessary to fulfilling the American Dream—is now viewed as obsolete, intrusive, even an infringement upon one’s “right” to live however he or she may choose.
The United States is a nation that values the rights of the individual. One can freely speak against the policies of the president—even spew verbal attacks on his character—without fear of being arrested, imprisoned, tortured, executed or made to “disappear” without a trace.
Ironically, those same “rights” are being used to tear down, rip apart and demolish confidence in the American system of governance. Respect for law, order and authority is at an all-time low. A cultural war of opposing ideologies is being waged, polarizing government and dividing the nation.
How long can America survive?
Both houses were taken away into national captivity. The people of Judah (today known as the Jews) returned, and retained their ancient identity to this very day. But the house of Israel “disappeared” into the pages of history, and lost knowledge of their origins; today, their descendants are largely oblivious to their biblical identity.
But did God pick Israel to be His chosen people, “holy” and “special…above all people that are upon the face of the earth” (Deut. 7:6), because they were inherently superior to everyone else? Notice: “The Lord did not set His love upon you, nor choose you, because you were more in number than any people; for you were the fewest of all people: But because the Lord loved you, and because He would keep the oath which He had sworn unto your fathers, has the Lord brought you out with a mighty hand, and redeemed you out of the house of bondmen, from the hand of Pharaoh king of Egypt” (vs. 7-8).
God is not a “respecter of persons” (Acts 10:34; Rom. 2:11). He rescued the Israelites from their meager existence and gave them His commandments, statutes and judgments so they would become a model nation: “Behold, I have taught you statutes and judgments, even as the Lord my God commanded me, that you should do so in the land where you go to possess it. Keep therefore and do them; for this is your wisdom and your understanding in the sight of the nations, which shall hear all these statutes, and say, Surely this great nation is a wise and understanding people. For what nation is there so great, who has God so near unto them, as the Lord our God is in all things that we call upon Him for? And what nation is there so great, that has statutes and judgments so righteous as all this law, which I set before you this day?” (Deut. 4:5-8).
If ancient Israel had faithfully obeyed God, diligently turning to Him as their Ruler and Lawgiver, they would have reaped the wonderful blessings of national peace and prosperity. Also, their shining example would have led the surrounding nations—and ultimately all nations (Gen. 18:18)—to learn God’s laws, and reap the subsequent blessings of practicing His way of life.
Among these laws were statutes and precepts that governed the welfare and conduct of foreigners who were allowed to live among the Israelites (Ex. 12:37-38). God declares that He loves the “stranger” (Deut. 10:17-18) and expected Israel to do the same: “And if a stranger [foreigner] sojourn with you in your land, you shall not vex him. But the stranger that dwells with you shall be unto you as one born among you, and you shall love him as yourself; for you were strangers in the land of Egypt: I am the Lord your God” (Lev. 19:33-34).
“Strangers” (or foreigners) were protected from oppression: “You shall neither vex a stranger, nor oppress him: for you were strangers in the land of Egypt” (Ex. 22:21), and “Also you shall not oppress a stranger: for you know the heart of a stranger, seeing you were strangers in the land of Egypt” (23:9).
But to live among the Israelites, immigrants had to keep the same commandments, statutes and judgments that God’s people were commanded to keep. This included observing God’s weekly Sabbath (Ex. 20:8-10; 23:12) and annual Holy Days (Exodus 12:18-19; Lev. 16:29-31). They were required to participate in God-sanctioned executions (24:16) and abstain from pagan sexual practices described in Leviticus 18: “You shall therefore keep My statutes and My judgments, and shall not commit any of these abominations; neither any of your own nation, nor any stranger that sojourns among you: (For all these abominations have the men of the land done, which were before you, and the land is defiled)” (Lev. 18:26-27).
God divided the Promised Land among the clans and families of the 12 tribes. These properties—which were vital to the Israelites’ livelihood—were to be inherited from generation to generation. They were not allowed to be sold to non-Israelites.
But God did not forget those who were without property or who suffered hardship. He established a financial assistance program to provide for the Levites (who did not receive a land inheritance), the fatherless, widows and for “the stranger” (Deut. 26:12). However, the poor were expected to do their part; for example, while God instructed His people to leave some crops behind for the underprivileged when harvesting, the poor had to glean the food. This required work!
Yes, Israel’s Deliverer looked out for the immigrants among His people. However, He also set a difference between the “stranger” and the Israelite. There were certain things that only His people were allowed to do. For example, foreigners were forbidden to eat the Passover meal (Ex. 12:43-47)—that is, unless they became full citizens (vs. 48-49).
While God instructed His people to treat the foreigners among them with fairness, He also expected Israel to lead the way—His Way—in how to live, rather than allowing “strangers” to dictate the course of the nation.
But ancient Israel rejected God and His Law. As they continually rebelled against their Deliverer and rejected His guiding hand, the kingdom gradually fell into a downward spiral toward national depravity. Despite multiple warnings from His faithful servants, God had to remove His blessings, replacing them with severe droughts, famines, diseases, humiliating military defeats and other national curses. Also among these was the fulfillment of God’s warning: “The stranger that is within you shall get up above you very high; and you shall come down very low. He shall lend to you, and you shall not lend to him: he shall be the head, and you shall be the tail” (Deut. 28:43-44).
Verse 45 explains that “all these curses shall come upon you, and shall pursue you, and overtake you, till you be destroyed; because you listened not unto the voice of the Lord your God, to keep His commandments and His statutes which He commanded you.”
Israel was ultimately sent back into slavery, and the national birthright promise to Abraham’s seed had to be fulfilled at another time. God did this through the greatest “nation and a company of nations” (Gen. 35:10-12) in man’s history—the United States of America (Manasseh) and the former British Empire (Ephraim).
But like their ancestors before them, Israel’s modern-day descendants have rejected their Lawgiver. They have thrown out His laws—which were to be their “wisdom” and “understanding in the sight of the nations” (Deut. 4:6)—in order to live by their own laws, their own rules of conduct.
Look at the result. Without God’s laws as the standard of wisdom and rendering good judgment, men cannot agree on right and wrong. They are forced to pass new laws—new codes—new regulations—year after year, as society’s values change with each successive generation.
This is reflected in America’s struggle to find a solution to aliens living and working in the country illegally. The American people cannot even agree on whether to call them “illegal immigrants” or “undocumented workers”!
Consider the irony. Millions of Americans, even most who claim to be Christian, consider the Law of God burdensome and that it restricts individual freedoms. Yet God’s Law, contained in the pages of the Bible, can be held in one hand—while men produce vast libraries of laws, codes, rulings and regulations that attempt to address virtually every miniscule detail of life!
And what has this yielded? Mass bureaucracy—inconsistent and unjust court renderings—abuses in interpreting the law—legal chaos and confusion! This is freedom?
The U.S. already has laws in place that address the rise of illegal immigration—yet the people lack the will to enforce them. Lawmakers are at a crossroads: If they do nothing, the problem will not go away; it will only grow worse. On the other hand, no matter what proposals are passed and enforced, a large segment of the voting populace will be upset—and they will show their anger in the ballot box.
Without the Law of God as their guiding light (Prov. 6:23), the people of modern Manasseh are entering dark times ahead.