Trying to dodge the news, DACA, illegal immigration, and the political fallout of unjust policies is like trying to jockey for personal space on a subway. It’s not going to happen.
The Uncomfortable Grace family will not ignore the world or distract ourselves with the daily details of our own lives to avoid dealing with it. We are prepared to stand up straight, plant our feet firmly, and look brokenness square in the eye.
Uncomfortable Grace will not shy away from discussing how political policies affect our neighbors, nor will we avoid discussing touchy topics. There will always be a tug-of-war between “What Would Jesus Do?” and “What’s the law of the land?” If you are looking to resolve the tension between being a Child of God and an American citizen, you will not find it.
Loving Jesus while navigating political policies and the people it affects will always be a cumbersome balancing act.
We are called to engage it, not evade it.
Blending Christian faith and American politics will always be uncomfortable and, at times, a little icky. However, Jesus called us to be salt in a world lacking flavor. He called us to shine a light among the darkness.
Jesus instructed us to wade into murky waters with clear heads and compassionate hearts.
Rather than hysterically parroting mainstream media headlines, Uncomfortable Grace will always step back, take a break, do research, and pray for God’s will to triumph. Once we understand the immigration issues facing our nation, then we can more clearly evaluate how believers can move forward.
What is DACA?
DACA (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals) is an executive order signed by President Barack Obama in 2012. According to an ABC news report, DACA allows “certain undocumented immigrants who were children when they were brought to the U.S. to apply for deferred action, and be eligible for work permits.”
In other words, DACA granted semi-legal status to illegal immigrants through a work permit program. However, Executive Orders, by their nature, can be undone at any time since they are enacted without the approval of Congress.
Who are “Dreamers”?
“Dreamer” refers to illegal immigrants brought to the U.S. as children by their parents, who were also illegal immigrants at that time. News reports indicate 800,000 “Dreamers” registered and obtained work permits under DACA, but because executive orders aren’t laws, Dreamers are now losing a foothold on those work permits and their “legal” status. Many of these Dreamers are now between the ages of 15 and 36. Congress has 6 months to find a legislative alternative, which holds up better than an executive order.
What’s with all the terminology?
One of the most confusing things about the immigration issue (or any other political concern) is the terminology surrounding it. “Undocumented immigrant” is a softer term for “illegal immigrant.” “Dreamer” sounds more palpable than “anchor baby” (which is a baby born to illegal immigrants living in the U.S.) A Pew Research study indicates “about 275,000 babies were born to unauthorized-immigrant parents in 2014, or about 7% of the 4 million births in the U.S. that year.” These terms refer to the same thing: people living in the U.S. without going through the proper channels or filling out the proper paperwork (laws, not executive orders) to become legal citizens.
I keep hearing about “sanctuary.” What is that?
Sanctuary refers to refuge for people being politically or religiously persecuted. It can be provided temporarily by churches or government institutions until the danger has passed or the proper documentation has been filed. Currently, “sanctuary” refers to cities who offer a no-expiration-date refuge for illegal immigrants with no intention to encourage them to become full-fledged citizens. Many law enforcement officials in those sanctuary cities have declared they won’t cooperate with federal officials regarding illegal immigrants or report them to the proper authorities.
What do these “Dreamers” do now?
Dreamers with work permits that expire between now and March 2018 can apply for a renewal by October 5. Since President Donald Trump rescinded the executive order and pushed the burden back to Congress to pass a law (which is how U.S. legislative process works), Congress now has 6 months to enact a law to protect Dreamers. If Congress doesn’t act by March 2018, Dreamer statuses lapse and they could be deported.
Now that we understand what’s going on, how should Christ followers respond?
Simple fixes work in theory and on paper, but rarely do they work smoothly when people are involved.
When it comes to DACA, surely there is a balance between the letter of the law and the spirit of the law.
That’s why we must become Dream Weavers. We approach those mired in a broken system, and weave compassion and law into a just solution.
Here are a few considerations that will move us in the right direction:
- Acknowledge the immigration system is broken and in need of repair. To do this we must check our liberal or conservative biases at the door. A system that allows people to enter the country and live for decades without requiring proper documentation in a timely fashion is bothersome. A system where a president can create laws without the support of the legislative body is troublesome. And it is insensitive to declare “well, it’s the law” and then uproot people and dismiss them for the sins of their parents. Another consideration? The immigration system isn’t broken, and the problem lies with not enforcing current laws. Either way, business as usual can’t continue.
- Acknowledge politicians are bound by the law (whether it feels just) and they are also obligated to correct unjust laws. Being a Dream Weaver is messy business. Christian apologist Ravi Zacharias declares we are living in a post-truth era where preferences and feelings override truth. In other words, “I feel” outmaneuvers “These are the facts” every time. Christians should not follow the patterns of this world (Romans 12). We are obligated to be truthful in words, actions, and deeds, even when feelings and biases muck everything up.
- Admit that the solutions to U.S. immigration woes are not black and white. Policies are not constructed and applied solely on paper and in a vacuum. They affect people, and just as we are to be truthful in word, deed, and policy, we are to do the same when it comes to compassion. Since compassion means to suffer alongside someone, consider who God wants you to pull a chair up beside. Is it a Dreamer facing an uprooted, uncertain life? An edgy co-worker who flippantly embraces deportation? President Trump as he sifts through the mess left on his desk? Your elected representatives? The mentor you’ve held in high regard who doesn’t quite “get it?” No one said the chair would be comfy. But oftentimes, God asks us take a seat.
- Do your homework. The world is watching, Christ followers. Conduct thoughtful research. Hold conversations where you ask questions and then listen for the answer. Be prepared to learn something. Pray for wisdom. Dig into Scripture. Ask God to show where your piece fits in this puzzle.
Being a Dream Weaver involves blending Christ-like compassion with reasonable respect for the law. The world has enough dissension. How will you weave together the broken pieces?