It has been an extraordinary week. The current administration instituted a “zero tolerance” policy on our southern border. Because children cannot be incarcerated, they were separated from their parents. Taken--and then placed in a variety of “holding areas”.
Regardless of how you personally feel about our immigration issue, can you imagine traveling to an authoritarian country, misplacing your passport and being detained while your children were taken somewhere you don’t know with the prospect of being there for weeks? Months?
Not everyone will agree with me, but from where I sit, our nation decided to inflict trauma on several thousand children. That is not the nation I know and love. We are better than that.
Only after a tidal wave of criticism from nearly every corner--including his wife--did the President decide to lift the separation order. We will no longer remove children from their parent’s care. But it does still leave us with the dilemma of reconnecting the thousands who were already removed and the government is under no constraint to accomplish this quickly.
Methodists were involved. Attorney General Jeff Sessions, who is responsible for enforcing the zero tolerance policy, is also a United Methodist. A group of fellow Methodists from across the country decided to bring a “charge” against Sessions for child abuse. Did you know that any person in our church can bring a charge against another? Clergy OR Lay?
I personally didn’t find their action helpful. Of course we should speak against what we consider injustice. Of course we should speak truth to power. Bringing a charge against Sessions struck me as politicizing the church. We already have enough of that.
I’m glad the President rescinded the order. But it still leaves us with an immigration issue. There are many people trying to enter our country. Are some of them criminals? Probably. But I reject the language that all of these people are bad actors. Many of them are fleeing situations where their lives--and the lives of their families--are in real danger. I dare say there isn’t one of us who wouldn’t be trying to flee, too.
I wish I had the definitive answer. I don’t. But I know who we are at our best. We are a compassionate nation that time and again has come to the aid of others in trouble. Hospitality to strangers is one of the hallmark characteristics of a faithful person in the Bible.
Maybe the best question for us is this: What does it mean to show hospitality in our immigration dilemma? Maybe another way of asking this is the one we all learned as children: What would Jesus do?