Everyone knows it is coming – the second or even third caravan built of thousands of immigrants escaping poverty in Central America for a more promising version of poverty in these United States. If it isn't the lead news story in the paper, on the evening telecast, or on the Web, it's easily story number two or three.
The caravan exceeding 7,000 immigrants has been called an invasion by the likes of Glenn Beck stating, "When was the last time you saw more than seven thousand people, marching towards another countries (sic) border, and carrying their own flag?" In a way, Beck is right. In a fearmongering sort of way, thousands of people amassing on a border carrying a flag of a sovereign nation could be considered an invasion. Frankly, that's how the people of Afghanistan view the American soldier.
We have been told they are all bad, that there "could very well be" Middle Easterners in the caravan who mean to do us harm, and that we should not let them in. As Commander and Chief, the President has even ordered 800 US military troops to the border with Mexico to confront this "national emergency."
How and where do we draw the line? As a sovereign nation with a responsibility to its legal citizens, the United States of America has a right to control immigration through legal and ethical means. This means establishing legal quotas and limits for accepting immigrants from each country that are based on sound immigration policy devoid of political maneuvering. Regardless of party affiliation, using people as pawns in a political war is heinous and should be considered a crime against humanity. But as a Christian, what is our responsibility? How do we respond?
"We aren't required to let them all in, but suggesting that they should be prevented from coming by regimes they may be escaping is neither moral nor legal." J. Choate
That quote from a friend and fellow Marine sums up the challenge well. As caring individuals – regardless of religious or spiritual leanings – we cannot stand idly by as our elected politicians play political football with the lives of the poor. As Americans, we need to support our legal immigration processes while recognizing the slippery slope that is the manipulation of our emotions by using live pawns in a political chess match. As Christians, we cannot close a blind eye to the plight of the abused immigrants making the trek. Heck, this is one area where my Christian and Atheist friends agree – Stop using poor foreigners as pawns in your power-hungry game of chess!
Ok, so much of our response is driven by our own position. That is reality. Farmers on the southern border who face Coyotes (not the animals) and illegals every day who damage and steal property and threaten their very lives have a certain understandable hardness in their hearts towards the pawns making up this most recent caravan. Emigres with family in Guatemala or Honduras can understand the choice to join the caravan and possibly make it into the US as numbers overwhelm resources. Veterans who are challenged every day because of their experiences serving this country might view the seven thousand in the caravan as potential challengers for already scarcely available resources.
"I'll start caring about the struggles of illegal immigrants when all 39,471 homeless veterans living in America are well fed, well sheltered, and well taken care of" – Anonymous Facebook quote
As Christians, whether we live in houses with walls and produce multi-million dollar movies or share bunks with another homeless veteran who smells as bad as we do, we are challenged to be gracious no matter what.
"Do not be deceived: God cannot be mocked. A man reaps what he sows. Whoever sows to please their flesh, from the flesh will reap destruction; whoever sows to please the Spirit, from the Spirit will reap eternal life. Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up. Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all people, especially to those who belong to the family of believers." (Gal 6:7-10, NIV)
God doesn't call for us to "let them all in" as my friend highlighted, but He does call for us to hear them all out. And there is no easy answer on how we do that, on who pays for it, on where we house them in the process, on what we feed them, or on when we see a return to normalcy. But there is an easy answer on why we do it – because Christ said to. If we have the ability to care, we also have the responsibility to care. If we are in a position to give aid, Christ lays upon us the burden to give aid.
"And do not forget to do good and to share with others, for with such sacrifices God is pleased." (Heb 13:16, NIV)
"John answered, 'Anyone who has two shirts should share with the one who has none, and anyone who has food should do the same.'" (Luke 3:11, NIV)
So my challenge to us all today is regardless of conservative or liberal affiliation or whether we pray to God or Allah or choose not to pray at all; do not let anyone use these poor people as pawns. Have compassion for their plight, treat them with dignity and respect, and refuse to let Satan come between us and doing the good that God calls us to do. Show them the love that overcomes the hate and pray ceaselessly for anyone peddling in that hate. And may the God of all good things richly bless you for the love you show.
–Mark Klages is an influential contributor, a former US Marine and a lifelong teacher who focuses on applying a Christian worldview to everyday events. Mark blogs at https://maklagesl3.wixsite.com/website under the title "God Provides where Hate Divides," with a heart to heal social, political, relational, and intellectual wounds through God's divine love and grace. Mark can also be found on LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/mark-klages-04b42511/.