By Addison Lavelle
The immigration crisis in America is reaching new and profound lows. I do not accept the narrative that immigrants are a detriment to the American dream when, in fact, immigrants are the very reason that the United States of America exists in the first place.
I have listened to politicians discuss this topic with fiery rhetoric over the past four years and have shaken my head in disgust at the increasingly radical position taken by the far right on how we should treat migrants at our southern border.
When President Trump signed an executive order that initiated a travel ban within a week of his inauguration, I was horror-stricken by the ideological message that this broadcast to the worldwide audience.
I believe that if Jesus were on Earth today, he would not condone this behavior. The Bible says in Exodus 22:21, “Do not oppress foreigners in any way. Remember, you yourselves were once foreigners in the land of Egypt.”
In the first four books of the New Testament, Jesus walked among human beings and extended kindness, love, acceptance and compassion to people who were struggling. I don’t think I have ever read a passage in the Bible that instructed me to directly target people who I didn’t like with wickedness.
The current system is fundamentally flawed; I have spoken to people who have gone through the process to become U.S. citizens, and it’s detrimentally difficult. It’s expensive, time-consuming and oppressive.
The current system in place seems designed to deter immigrants from even attempting to become citizens in the first place. We need to ease the process to become a U.S. citizen, which would in turn motivate people to go through the process rather than live in hiding of ICE agents.
Another thing that people don’t acknowledge is the economic contribution that immigrants make to our country. These people are taking the jobs that nobody else wants. How can we argue that immigrants are stealing American jobs, when the majority of them are working hard labor jobs that we don’t even want?
As Christians, we should be bringing awareness to the truth about immigrants in America, not participating in the mass hysteria and fiery rhetoric that exists in the current political climate. Jesus advocated for honesty and encouraged us to do the same. I think we have a moral obligation to combat misleading “facts” that surround the immigration debate.
Most people formulate their ideas based on what they are hearing from either their parents or other members of a homogenous culture; they often have no exposure to immigrants themselves, a factor that removes the humanity from these migrants and places them worlds apart from their critics. I think we should be asking ourselves how we can bridge the gap between Hispanic cultures and Anglo-American society. What steps can we take to foster community between white Americans and Hispanic migrants seeking sanctuary within the borders of the U.S.?
It’s difficult for someone like myself to envision what life is like for these men and women who are suffering such drastic misfortune, but I believe that anyone who ridicules migrants simply because they’ve not been exposed to the humanity of their lives has an obligation to educate themselves on the truth about immigration and raise a voice of advocacy for—in the words of Emma Lazarus—the tired, poor, huddled masses yearning to breathe free.
Addison Lavelle is a freshman political science, philosophy and economics major from Anderson, Indiana.