A Modern Woman's Perspective On The Kingdom of God on Earth

Showing posts with label Immigration Reform. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Immigration Reform. Show all posts

November 16, 2015

How Do We Reconcile the World's Struggle With Refugees and Migrants?

     The nations of the world are grappling with the "problem" of refugees emigrating from the dangers of the expanding Caliphate in the Middle East.  Leaders like German Chancellor Angela Merkel maintains that no limits should be placed on the number of people allowed to enter her country; that European values of humanity and compassion in the face of terror need to be upheld.
     But the newly-elected government of Poland has announced their country won't accept migrant quotas imposed by the European Union.  And Dutch anti-immigration politician Geert Wilders says, "The only way to deal with it (the refugee crisis) is to regain our national sovereignty and close our national borders... We close our borders to migrants, not refugees."
     So, what does that mean?  What is the difference?  Actually, as The New York Times points out, there is a legal difference.    Briefly, a refugee is person who has fled his or her country to escape war or persecution, and can prove it.  More specifically, The 1951 Refugee Convention, negotiated after World War II, defines a refugee as a person who, “owing to a well-founded fear of being persecuted for reasons of race, religion, nationality, membership of a particular social group or political opinion, is outside the country of his nationality, and is unable to, or owing to such fear, is unwilling to avail himself of the protection of that country.”
     On the other hand, anyone moving from one country to another is considered a migrant unless he or she is specifically fleeing war or persecution. Migrants may be fleeing dire poverty, or may be well-off and merely seeking better opportunities, or may be migrating to join relatives who have gone before them.  So, in the face of the crisis in the Middle East and the onslaught of Isis's atrocities, you can imagine the political and social implications of these distinctions -- and the ensuing confusion.
     Under the 1951 convention, countries are free to deport migrants who arrive without legal papers, which they cannot do with refugees.  But complicating the immigration of refugees is what is known as "the Schengen policy".  Again, according to The New York Times, this is an agreement to abolish border controls among the European nations that have joined. For the most part, people in any Schengen country can travel freely to any other without stopping to show a passport or visa, just as travelers can between American states or Canadian provinces. Only when entering from outside the Schengen area are a traveler’s credentials regularly checked.
     So, once an emigrant from the Middle East arrives in Greece, and is registered, he is pretty much free to travel throughout Europe under this policy.  So can you see, in the wake of the Paris terror attack, just how significant it is that Greece is swamped with those seeking admittance into Europe.  In fact, the latest United Nations estimates show over 800,000 migrants have passed through the Mediterranean on their way to Europe this year, with 660,700 landing in Greece and 142,400 in Italy. Based on these numbers, it is not surprising that the Greek minister for Citizen Protection, Nikos Tosca, has announced that one of the Paris terrorists with a Syrian passport was "masquerading as a refugee".  And it just as understandable that leaders in countries like Hungary and Austria and Poland feel that the Greeks are not doing their job properly in securing Europe’s borders, but simply processing all that come, and sending them on into Europe.
     So don't you think that as a nation, the US should be very careful how we handle this thorny and dangerous issue of Middle Eastern refugees?  And do you see just how difficult a situation this is?  Naturally, the Middle Eastern Christians, who are being brutally persecuted for their religious beliefs come to mind when considering who should be allowed to enter our country.  But what exactly is the vetting process for all others?  If, as the news agency Reuters reports, our government is moving to increase and accelerate the number of Syrian refugees who might be admitted into the United States by opening new screening outposts in Iraq and Lebanon... shouldn't this be a major concern and raise some red flags?  In the wake of Paris, doesn't this qualify as a national security issue?
     As always, I try to see any situation from my Biblical worldview, and the Bible clearly tells us that, as Christians, we are to accept aliens into our land and help them to conform to our laws and our traditions.  In fact, the law of the Old Testament was that aliens were to be treated with respect and given aid. If things were so desperate in their home land that people would rather move to Israel and live under Israel's strict judicial and ceremonial law, the Israelites were to honor that desire.
     However, this does not apply to those aliens who enter a country for the purpose of crime or violence. The caveat God gave the Israelites regarding aliens is that they needed to obey the laws of the land (Leviticus 24:22), and the Israelites needed to make it possible for them to obey the laws of the land by giving them opportunities for sustenance (Leviticus 23:22). Aliens who came in to steal, fight, or draw the Israelites to other gods were to be disposed of quickly.
     You see, these same laws should be applied and followed today.  Careful investigation and evaluation is absolutely necessary!  But we can all recognize that the world is in crisis, and the sheer mayhem and chaos created by Isis and the schemes of Satan threaten to overwhelm our human abilities.  So, it is in humility and meekness that I approach God, asking Him to show us the way through His righteous and loving nature.  Let us welcome and give aid to those who truly desire it, and repel the wicked plots of our enemies who wish to destroy us.

Nahum 1:7    "The LORD is good, A stronghold in the day of trouble, And He knows those who take refuge in Him."

July 24, 2015

An American Mother's Testimony

     The tragic death of Kate Steinle by an illegal immigrant in the sanctuary city of San Francisco, coupled with Presidential Candidate Donald Trump's spotlight on our undefended southern border, has FINALLY forced the U.S. Congress to listen to the American people about the illegal alien problem in this country.  But for Laura Wilkerson, it is nearly 5 years too late.
     Mrs. Wilkerson was one of several Americans who testified of family member's murders by illegal immigrants who have been protected by this administration's immigration policy.  Testifying during a Congressional hearing, which was called “Oversight of the Administration’s Misdirected Immigration Enforcement Policies: Examining the Impact on Public Safety and Honoring the Victims,” Mrs. Wilkerson recalled how executive amnesty for illegal minors cost her the life of her son, Joshua, who was 18 at the time of his death.  On November 16, 2010, near Houston, TX, Joshua was beaten, strangled, and tortured until he died. He was tied up, thrown in a field, and set on fire.
     To be honest, it is hard to listen to Laura Wilkerson's testimony about her son's murder ... I would be unable to recite the details of his death in the same cool, collected manner that she exhibits.  In the background you can see a man, whom I suspect is Joshua's father, break down as she calmly reads the autopsy report: "This body is received in a grey body bag. There’s a tag on his toe that bears the name, Joshua Wilkerson. This is a white male weighing a hundred pounds. He is tied up with braided rope — 13 loops around his neck in a slipknot. It goes behind his back through his back belt loop. It goes to his hands and his feet, behind his body. He has multiple fractures in his face and nasal cavity. His throat and his voicebox are crushed. He was kicked so hard in the stomach that it sent his spleen into his spine, and sliced it in two… The medical examiner said it was torture.  This body has significant skin loss on his buttocks, his abdomen, his penis, his hands, and his face. He has one stick of gum and a tardy slip in his pocket."
     Then her testimony confronts the Congressional panel with a reality they cannot avoid:  "This was our family’s 9/11 terrorist attack by a foreign invader, whether you want to recognize it or whether you do not," Wilkerson said. "This government continues to fail, or even recognize, that we have an issue. Americans are dying daily at the hands of criminals that we don’t even know are here."
     She then goes on to explain that her son's murderer, Hermilio Moralez, qualified as a "Dream Kid", our government's idealized picture of innocent immigrant children who were brought to this country without their permission, but who have lived here for more than five years, adapted to American life, and "belong here".  But on the witness stand during the trial for Joshua's murder, Hermilio kept muttering how it was "in his country" as the reason why he killed Joshua.  Furthermore, he was not some underprivileged immigrant kid; his parents had provided him with martial arts training and he had attained the rank of black belt.  In a 2010 article, shortly after Joshua's murder, it was revealed that Moralez lied about killing Joshua in self-defense, and as he "led police to where he burned Joshua's body, he tried to grab a cop's gun."
     I know that we cannot paint every immigrant child with the evil brush of Hermilio Moralez's actions, but that is just the point ... we do not know where these kids are coming from, or what criminal background they have been raised in, and who they really are.  So, how does it make sense that they are exempt from immigration law?  And because the Dream Act hasn't quite given cover to all the immigrants coming in, we are now asked to accept sanctuary cities, where law enforcement cannot even question their status or ask for proof of citizenship!
Joshua Wilkerson
     Perhaps the saddest part of Mrs. Wilkerson's testimony was the effect this murder has had on her surviving children, especially Joshua's older brother, who was serving in the military at the time of the murder.  "Joshua’s older brother returned from the battlefield fighting to defend our country, only to find no one was defending his younger brother"... just as no one was defending 21-year-old Grant Ronnebeck, who was killed by an illegal immigrant for a pack of cigarettes as he worked the early morning hours at a convenience store in Mesa, AZ ... or 66-year-old Denny McCann, of Chicago, IL who was struck by a hit-and-run driver, and drug underneath the car for several blocks; the car was driven by an illegal immigrant with a blood alcohol level four times the legal limit ... or Sheriff's Deputy Danny Paul Oliver of Sacramento, CA, who was shot point-blank in the forehead by a twice-deported illegal alien from Mexico during a routine traffic stop.
     The testimonies of these American families, along with the family of the latest victim, Katie Steinle, must be heard.  These are Americans who are not being protected by their own country!  Instead, for whatever agenda is being pursued, illegal immigrants -- many of them with criminal histories, or at least with a different cultural standard about following laws -- are allowed to live here without any kind of supervision or expectation of being lawful citizens.  At this point, unless we can be assured that Americans are going to be protected from the anarchy and criminality of illegal immigrants, we must take a stand so that no more families have to suffer the indescribable grief that the Wilkerson, Ronnebeck, McCann, Oliver, Steinle, and countless other American families have endured.
     I join Laura Wilkerson in her closing statement to the Congressional panel:  "You’re officially notified today there’s a problem. You can’t deny it any longer. You cannot stand by and ignore our families — our American families. You’re elected by Americans, not any other country ... Your silence speaks volumes. You’re either for Americans, or you’re not ... I want you to know that our family is broken, forever. We are forever broken. I don’t want the sympathy. I want you to do  something about it. Every one of you sitting here is in a position to do something. Just throw your hat into the ring for Americans. Quit sitting silent because it’s going to help you get a vote. Throw your hat in the ring and take care of American families."
     The last thing I want to say is this:  The Bible tells us to be compassionate and merciful towards the "sojourner" or alien to our land.  But we are also called to obey the governments instituted by God's hand.  There will be those who argue that our immigration laws are unjust and unfair.  But the Bible does not give one permission to violate a law just because it is perceived as unjust.  I recognize that the vast majority of immigrants throughout our country's history have come here for a better life, but I also believe that it is not Biblical to violate a law to achieve a “good.” The solution to unfair immigration law is not to ignore the law, or subvert it -- it is to work through lawful means to change it.  Our current immigration policy -- or lack thereof -- is not solving the problem, and is causing great harm to legal, lawful Americans.  How many more tragic stories such as that of Joshua Wilkerson and the other victims is it going to take before this nation stops the madness?

For more of Laura Wilkerson's testimony and the story of her son, Joshua, please click here.  

1 Peter 2:13-16    "Be subject for the Lord’s sake to every human institution, whether it be to the emperor as supreme, or to governors as sent by him to punish those who do evil and to praise those who do good. For this is the will of God, that by doing good you should put to silence the ignorance of foolish people.  Live as people who are free, not using your freedom as a cover-up for evil, but living as servants of God."

July 7, 2015

"Sanctuary Cities" Vs. Biblical "Cities of Refuge"

     I know the two terms sound alike, and imply similar meanings.  But believe me, nothing could be further from the truth.  Sanctuary cities are a political invention to protect illegal immigrants, while Cities of Refuge are associated with God's true justice.  Here is how they work:
     Sanctuary City is a term given to a city in the United States (or Canada) that follows certain practices that protect illegal immigration. These practices can be by law, or they can just be in effect, by habit (de facto). The term generally applies to cities that do not allow municipal funds or resources to be used to enforce federal immigration laws, usually by not allowing police or municipal employees to inquire about an individual's immigration status. The designation has no legal meaning, and is a useful political tool for those who wish to benefit from increased numbers of illegal immigrants.
     On the other hand, Cities of Refuge have a clear purpose from a Biblical standpoint.  The Mosaic Law stated that anyone who committed a murder was to be put to death (Exodus 21:14). But for unintentional deaths, God set aside these cities to which the murderer could flee for refuge (Exodus 21:13). He would be safe from the avenger—the family member charged with avenging the victim’s death (Numbers 35:19)—until the case could go to trial. The congregation would judge to find if the attacker acted unintentionally. If he did, he would return to the city of refuge and live there safely until the death of the high priest who was in office at the time of the trial, at which point he could return to his property. If the attacker left the city of refuge before the death of the high priest, however, the avenger would have the right to kill him (Numbers 35:24-28).
    The purpose of these Cities of Refuge was to contemplate the death you had caused (unintentionally) and to hopefully repent of your actions.  Plus there is the reality that these Cities of Refuge could be seen from two different perspectives:  1) They served as a detention center until the killer was brought to justice, as well as a sort of prison where the slayer must stay—even against his will—until the death of the High Priest. So while he benefits from the protection the City provides him from the threat of the blood-avenger, the city also serves as a punishment for him; even if he wishes to leave, he may not.  2)  The City of Refuge is not a punishment, but rather a privilege, and serves as a place of protection for unintentional slayers, each of whom is being pursued by an avenger who seeks to kill him. Society is therefore obligated to shelter these individuals.
     I believe that our modern day concept of Sanctuary Cities are a deviation from this latter understanding.  In fact, there was a “New Sanctuary Movement” that emerged in the 1980s as an expression of the church’s ministry of social justice, often protecting Latin American immigrants escaping civil unrest and political persecution. Many were given shelter and protection in churches across America, and although the government had every right to enter and arrest the suspects, it avoided a dreadful public relations situation by not doing so.
     Now that movement has grown so large, and become such a political reality, that it serves to endanger the lives of every American.  As I stated before, the term “sanctuary city” has no legal meaning; it is typically used to describe local governments that ban police from asking about a person’s immigration status.  And now the numbers of illegal immigrants entering across our southern borders have exploded, and every one of them know to get to a Sanctuary City as fast as they can.  If they are arrested or detained, they know that they will either be released on probation; or if deported, they will soon return and repeat their journey to a Sanctuary City where they are free to live a life of crime without fear of being singled out as an illegal immigrant.  It's simple ... just don't get caught, and you are not bound by the laws of America. 
These illegal immigrants don't even have to stay within the boundaries of the Sanctuary City, as they were required to do in the Biblical City of Refuge.  In fact, they are free to roam across the country, unhindered by our federal immigration laws; and those who seek to do harm to others are often repeat offenders, leaving a swath of crime, destruction, and death.  Case in point:  Kathryn Steinle, 32, who was shot dead in San Francisco this last week by Francisco Sanchez, an illegal Mexican immigrant who was a 7-time felon across multiple states, including: Texas, Oregon and Arizona; had multiple aliases with different birth dates; had an Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) "detainer," meaning local authorities were flagged to hold him for immigration violations; and who was most recently released following a marijuana arrest four months ago.
     ICE had marked Sanchez as an 'enforcement priority' who should have been handed over immediately when he was arrested four months ago, but was let go in accordance with San Francisco's "sanctuary city" policy.  But even more disturbing and frightening was Sanchez's comments to a local ABC affiliate that "he came to San Francisco because he knew the sanctuary city would not hand him over to immigration officials."  
     The details of the murder are sketchy ... Sanchez's story has changed multiple times, and he even claims he did not know he had shot and killed someone.  But now, the father of this beautiful woman will be haunted forever by one second in time, when he was walking with his daughter and a friend on Pier 14, and the next minute his daughter lay at his feet, asking him to help her.  How many other stories are there like this across our country?  When will we begin to protect American citizens to the degree that we protect illegal immigrants?  
     The concept of "Sanctuary Cities" is no longer beneficial to the sovereignty and safety of this country.  And there is no definition of "social justice" that can defend the runaway crime that is a result of this misguided domestic policy.  Perhaps we should return to the Biblical concept of Cities of Refuge ... where the killers are brought to justice; and must serve their sentence without the freedom to roam and commit further crimes. 
     You know, Donald Trump may be something of a blowhard; but he is right when he says our southern border is out of control, unsafe, and needs protecting.  When criminals feel free to enter this country and commit crimes, knowing it is unlikely that law enforcement can stop them, that is infuriating enough.  But when Americans are not safe to walk down the street because there is a policy that provides protection to these lawbreakers, then the world is insane.  The innocent blood of the victims is crying out to the Lord for His Justice.  May it soon be administered.

For a detailed report on the death of Kathryn Steinle in the Sanctuary City of San Francisco, click here.

Proverbs 24:24    Whoever says to the wicked, “You are in the right,” will be cursed by peoples, abhorred by nations...


May 21, 2015

The Immigrant Experience: Yesterday and Today

     This is a topic that has been on my mind for several days, so I'm going to just jump in.  Immigration has been a hot button subject in our national conversation for some time, and is sure to be at the center of the Presidential election debates in the coming months.  For sure, it is quite controversial.  But immigration has been at the heart of the history of our great nation since the beginning, and has contributed immensely to our success. So I wanted to take a look at how and why our opinion of it today is so contentious.
     We often look back on our history of immigration through the lens of nostalgia and view it in a sentimental light ... We are all familiar with poet Emma Lazarus's invitation engraved on the Statue of Liberty:  “Give me your tired, your poor, Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free, The wretched refuse of your teeming shore. Send these, the homeless, tempest-tossed, to me: I lift my lamp beside the golden door.”  Those words have inspired millions of people to make the dangerous journey to our shores.  I think it is important for us to recognize both the similarities and the differences in how immigration has impacted our nation.

     First the similarities:  The last great wave of immigrants to our country happened between the 1890s and 1920s and consisted primarily of Eastern Europeans.  Today's surge of immigration began in the 1960s and is still growing strong.  Most of these new immigrants hail from Mexico, and Central and South America.  Surprisingly, the percentage of foreign-born in the U.S. has not changed much in the last 100 years.  It was 13.6% in 1900 and 13% today. 
     Like the immigrants of the past, today's newcomers often enter the country with low skill levels, unable to speak English, and work at low-paying jobs and for long hours.  In both eras, the jobs often involved manual labor, or performing housekeeping duties and child-care for upwardly mobile Americans.  
     As in the past, today's immigrants usually live in ethnic neighborhoods, and due to their low economic level, multiple families may live together.  There are those today who will say that the immigrants of the past were viewed as "white", and more readily accepted.  But southern European Italian and eastern European Jew immigrants a century ago were not viewed as white in the same way that people with origins in northern and western Europe were; they were often called "mongrel" races.  They were discriminated against as inferior to natural-born Americans, as many are today. 
     Additionally, maintaining political, social, economic, and cultural ties to the home country is shared between the immigrant populations of yesterday and today.  Sending money back home and frequent trips to "the motherland" have been common for the last hundred years.
      While realizing that the immigrant experience is much the same today as it was a century ago, there are some stark contrasts in the effect that immigration has had upon our country.  First of all, in 1910, there were 13.5 million immigrants in the U.S. – in 2010, there were a whopping 40 million!  In the past, there were few restrictions on immigration, and most people entered the country legally and without any prohibitions.  Today, many arrive or remain without proper documents. Estimates for 2011: 11.5 million undocumented immigrants ... and that was before the mass influx of people coming from Latin America the last two years!
     One thing that we must understand when looking at the immigration "picture", is that 100 years ago, the population was about one fifth of what it is today.  And one cannot discount the words of Stephen Malanga, contributing editor to City Journal and a senior fellow at the Manhattan Institute:  "... Since the mid-1960s, America has welcomed nearly 30 million legal immigrants and received perhaps another 15 million illegals, numbers unprecedented in our history. These immigrants have picked our fruit, cleaned our homes, cut our grass, worked in our factories, and washed our cars. But they have also crowded into our hospital emergency rooms, schools, and government-subsidized aid programs, sparking a fierce debate about their contributions to our society and the costs they impose on it."
     We also cannot ignore the fact that these new immigrants often have their own values, customs, ideas, and culture, which are often at odds with our own; and they have no desire to compromise or assimilate as in generations past.  Our modern economy, which relies heavily on skills in the technology sector, makes it difficult for them to succeed without the necessary skills.  This makes it difficult to climb the economic ladder, and they often rely on something that immigrants of other generations didn't have: a bloated U.S. welfare and social-services bureaucracy that has greatly amplified the cost of immigration.
     The immigrants of a century ago were Jewish tailors and seamstresses who helped create New York's garment industry, Italian stonemasons and bricklayers who helped build some of our greatest buildings, German merchants, shopkeepers, and artisans - who all brought important skills with them that fit easily into the American economy.  In fact, our economy was exploding, and these new workers, with their specialized skills, helped power our emerging economy.  
     The flood of immigrants we are experiencing today do not have those specialized skills, and at this time in our history, they are a mismatch with the state of our economy.  Even as we have made strides in welfare reform and had some success in weaning people off social programs, we are, at the same time, creating a new foreign-born underclass who become hopelessly dependent on government aid.  As famed free-market economist Milton Friedman puts it: "It's just obvious that you can't have free immigration and a welfare state."
     I would be remiss if I did not mention an element associated with today's immigration debate.  This is a statement made in a 1992 article by Richard de Uriarte in The Phoenix Gazatte:  "An interesting aspect of the balkanization of America is the often playing of the "race card" whenever the discussion of illegal immigration comes up. According to most Latino advocacy groups, just being against illegal immigration is racist. This attitude is best expressed by Alfredo Gutierrez, political consultant, "We call things racism just to get attention. We reduce complicated problems to racism, not because it is racism, but because it works."
     It is obvious that immigration is a complicated and emotional set of circumstances.  And as Christians, we are given clear instructions as to how we are to treat sojourners in our land.  It is one thing to help immigrants on an individual basis; quite another to meet the needs of 40,000,000.
     So, as you can see, I haven't offered any viable solutions to our immigration policy debate.  To be honest, I'm not sure there are any -- as long as we have a federal policy that encourages immigrants to flock to our overcrowded nation with the promise of free social programs in a waning economy.  In truth, we are still the light that shines as a beacon to the tired, poor, homeless, and tempest-tossed that yearn to breathe free -- it's just that the golden door is tarnished and the lamp is fading.

Thanks to Professor Nancy Foner, of Hunter College and Graduate Center, City University of New York for statistics on immigration.

Leviticus 19:33-34    When a stranger sojourns with you in your land, you shall not do him wrong. You shall treat the stranger who sojourns with you as the native among you, and you shall love him as yourself, for you were strangers in the land of Egypt: I am the Lord your God.

March 5, 2015

"Birth Tourism" vs Illegal Immigration: What's The Difference?

     Does anyone else see the irony in the latest actions of the Department of Homeland Security?  Earlier this week DHS made a big show of sweeping raids on organizations that allegedly enable foreign women to pay to obtain U.S. visas under false pretenses; all for the intention of giving birth, so their child automatically receives U.S. citizenship.
     Follow me in my thought processes ... First of all, let's be clear -- it is not technically illegal to come to the U.S. to give birth.  (The ethical or moral entitlement to that right is up for debate).  The problem that DHS has is that the visas were allegedly obtained "under false pretenses", right?  NPR reports that Claude Arnold is the lead investigator for U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE). He says the agency is looking at three organizations that advertise online to wealthy Chinese women who may want to give birth in the U.S.
     "[The organizations] facilitate their travel," said Arnold. "They make arrangements for lodgings here, their medical care, etc. So that [their clients] can have children born here as United States citizens."  In affidavits filed for search warrants, federal authorities said that the businesses charged women up to $60,000 for coaching, facilitating travel to the U.S., lodging, hospital expenses, even nanny support.  Did you note the careful wording?  These women are being "coached" to lie in order to enter the U.S. to receive citizenship for their children.
     Now consider a report by a Rio Grande Valley TV station in Texas, plus this investigative article on The Blaze ... Border patrol agents along the Texas border have been finding alleged "cheat sheets" being used by apprehended illegal immigrants attempting to stay in the country and avoid deportation.  Supposedly, the "rehearsed answers" are common among a large majority of the illegals and are supplied by the human traffickers who charge from $5,000 to $8,000 to ensure passage into the country.
     Here are a couple of examples of the answers to questions by U.S. authorities:
Why did you abandon your country?
•  Because of poverty and misery.
•  You’re in fear of your government and afraid to live in your country.
•  You’re afraid of extortion from Maras [MS-13 gang].
Do you have family in the United States?  Where does your father live?
•  I don't know him, or even his name.
     The bottom line is that many who cross the border use the “credible fear” claim, saying they are afraid to return home, and knowing that they will obtain a notice to appear in immigration court to appeal to stay in the country.  And you guessed it ... they never show for the court date.
     This is just one more example of a conflated plan to send a message to immigrants that the border is wide open.  In fact, the incredible surge of immigrants over the last two years or so, appears to be from a perception that there was a ‘new’ U.S. ‘law’ that grants a ‘free pass’ or permit (referred to as “permisos”) being issued by the U.S. government to female adult other-than-Mexicans traveling with minors and unaccompanied children.
     And why wouldn't they think that, given this statement by Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson:  "Almost all agree that a child who crossed the border illegally with their parents, or in search of a father or a better life, was not making an adult choice to break our laws, and should be treated differently than adult violators of the law."  This is a direct quote attributed to Secretary Johnson in a story about a new two-year extension of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals policy published by Diario El Mundo in El Salvador.  (As reported by the website Hot Air in 2014).
     But let me ask you this ... isn't the very perception put forth by the Secretary of the DHS illegal?  How is the "coaching" on how to answer Border Patrol agents any different than the "coaching" that the "birth tourism" moms received?  And weren't the influx of immigrant children lured here under "false pretenses"? Furthermore, the "birth tourism" industry allegedly promises medical care, lodging and other amenities.  What about illegal immigrants receiving drivers licenses, Medicaid, and other free entitlements --- all paid by American taxpayers!
     So, I guess I'm just a little confused ... Why is it such a transgression against U.S. law for the wealthy "Birth tourism moms"; and their actions are labeled "illegal"; yet the DHS turns a blind eye towards thousands of immigrant children who cross the Southern border illegally; and they are granted amnesty?  Does it feel like a shell game to anyone else?

Proverbs 10:9    "Whoever walks in integrity walks securely, but he who makes his ways crooked will be found out."

August 22, 2014

What Is Our Christian Duty To Illegal Children?

     The State of Virginia's Department of Education (VDOE) has issued a memo to all 132 of its public school divisions, reminding them of the updated guidance from the federal government regarding the enrollment of illegal immigrant children in their school systems.  Breitbart.com has reported that over 2,850 unaccompanied illegal immigrant minors have been placed with sponsors in Virginia.
     And now both the State of Virginia and the Federal Government have declared that these children can now be considered "homeless", because according to Virginia law, they meet one of the definitions of a homeless child, namely ‘unaccompanied youths who are not in the physical custody of their parents, who... are sharing the housing of other persons due to loss of housing, economic hardship, or other causes.'
     What's more, they could be eligible for benefits under the McKinney-Vento Homeless Assistance Act.  Under this federal law, school districts must appoint a local liaison to ensure, among other things, that (1) children and youth eligible under McKinney Vento are identified; (2) that they immediately enroll in, and have a full and equal opportunity to succeed in, the schools of the district; and (3) they receive educational services for which they are eligible, and referrals to health care services, dental services, mental health services, and other appropriate services.
     As if this isn't incredible enough, the VDOE memo reiterated the requirement that school divisions “must immediately enroll homeless students” and must do so regardless of whether or not they are able “to produce the records required for enrollment" .... which includes records of vaccinations!  In fact, the VDOE memo stresses that even if the children cannot provide the required health and immunization records, the schools “must immediately enroll" them.
     To begin with, I am shocked that American taxpayers are expected to provide health and dental care; and presumably, the cost of school books, etc.  But to subject our schoolchildren to the possibilities of disease and infections from unvaccinated children is not only unreasonable, it is dangerous -- especially since an American child is not allowed to register for school without the required vaccinations!
     OK, that's how my human, practical side looks at it... this is unsustainable, costly, and presents viable health risks.  Then, as a Christian, I ask myself, "But how many times does the Bible talk about taking care of the widows and the orphans?"  I checked and found no less than 25 references to "orphans" or the "fatherless".  I read Scripture and know that we are to provide and take care of the needs of those children who have no one to take care of them.  But how are we to regard an overwhelming and manufactured crisis of over 63,000 orphans imposed on unsuspecting communities?  As Dr. James R. Edwards, Jr., expresses in his excellent article "A Biblical Perspective On Immigration Policy", I must now come to a conclusion on how my faith will influence my political opinion on immigration, just as it has on the issues of freedom of religious expression in public life, abortion, and same-sex marriage.
     As Dr. Edwards points out, when a modern Christian goes to Scripture to determine his beliefs on a public policy issue in present-day America, he might find it difficult to reconcile his beliefs with the societal rules of Old Testament Israel.  Ultimately, it is a question of the biblical role of civil government, as well as the Biblical principles of justice and mercy.
     We are all familiar with the Romans 13 admonition to obey secular authorities, as they have been placed in their roles by God, Himself.  This argument is often used by both Christians and non-Christians to say that we are to obey all laws and ruling authorities --- "whether the individuals in charge are personally characterized by godliness or not."
     I believe Dr. Edwards is correct when he says, "The authority God delegates to civil government focuses on justice, not mercy", (with mercy usually coming from individuals).  But within the concept of justice, is the accompanying element of punishment; "or else justice is not just."  He further elaborates by saying, "Earthly rulers are to guard their own citizens against evil in the world and in the hearts of men. And God holds rulers accountable for their official conduct."  As citizens, we understand that this authority given to our rulers is a protection against those individuals or forces that would do our nation harm.
     Therefore, it makes sense that we would expect that the first priority of our immigration policies would be to benefit us, the citizens of this nation.  Secondly, we would expect that those foreigners who disobey our laws would be subject to punishment or expulsion; that there would be strict rules for their admission into our sovereign nation.
     In Old Testament Israel, "sojourner" or "alien" signified "a temporary stay".  Whether aliens chose to reside temporarily or own property without becoming legal citizens, they were afforded equal standing under the law; i.e., they enjoyed the benefits of the rule of law.  But there was the rule of law they had to obey!  In fact, Old Testament passages makes clear that foreign residents were to comply with Israelite laws, such as Sabbath observance.
     As a Christian, it goes without saying, that I feel compelled to help these children who have been manipulated and used to force an immigration policy down the throats of all Americans.  They deserve our compassion and our help, as we can provide it.  If they need clothes and food, we need to provide it.  If they need comforting and encouragement, we should supply it.  Their immediate physical needs should certainly be met.  But when policy steps outside our rule of law, as established by those rulers God has placed over us, then we must step back and assess how it affects our nation.
     There is something else that Dr. Edwards points out, and I find Scripturally true.  God regards borders as meaningful and important.  We see that in His detailed description of the borders of the Promised Land, and the borders established for each tribe of Israel.  Because boundaries are important to God, we see examples of the "invasion" of aliens across Israel's borders as a judgment or curse against them for rebellion.  (We certainly can't deny that we deserve the same!)
     Another of Dr. Edwards' points is well-made:  "In short, the Old Testament teaches fair treatment of resident foreigners, with certain requirements of the aliens related to religious and civil legal standards. It also instructs that aliens were to assimilate to the Hebrew culture."  That has long been a problem with those crossing our southern border.
     I think part of our problem in this battle to determine an appropriate immigration policy [that satisfies both the secular populace as well as Christian believers], is that those who have been given legitimate civil authority to command justice, are now attempting to legislate mercy.  Nowhere, in the Bible can I find where mercy is exhorted from society; only from the individual.  I do not see where Jesus advocated a public policy of "spreading the wealth" or forcing a society, as a whole, to give to the poor, the widow, or the orphan.  It is always to be done on the part of the individual, not the government.
     I urge you to read Dr. Edwards's thesis in its entirety; he covers the topics of Migration in the Bible, including Humanitarian Migration; as well as The Immigrant's Responsibility.  I believe, along with him, that it is imprudent to strictly base this country's complicated immigration policy on a handful of Scriptures that differ wildly with our present circumstances.  Yet, there are definitely applicable Biblical principles that should be observed.  It is up to wise men and women to establish our laws, applying both justice and mercy where each is best fulfilled.
     We are to all corporately obey our civil laws, and individually extend mercy to our fellow man.  It is when the civil government oversteps its jurisdiction and tries to enact laws forcing mercy, that the balance prescribed in the Bible begins to collapse.  It's simple:  More harm is done than good, and nobody prospers.  We must find a way to solve this difficult situation; by both obeying the law of the land and showing compassion and mercy to our fellow man.  God help us!

Psalm 146:9    "The Lord watches over the sojourners; he upholds the widow and the fatherless, but the way of the wicked he brings to ruin."

July 23, 2014

Politicians Shouldn't Quote The Bible

     I  just love it when entrenched and power-hungry politicians try to use the Bible to support their agenda.  It doesn't matter that they never see the need to apply its principles and foundations at any other time; only when they can manipulate a concept or two to try to shame the susceptible public.
     Such is the case when House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi tried to influence public opinion about the humanitarian crisis at our southern border.  First of all, these politicians are very skillful at neglecting to mention the other crisis -- national security -- as they attempt to play upon the emotions of caring and concerned Americans.
     Breitbart.com also points out that national leaders like Pelosi fail to mention the strain on our nation's financial resources.  Instead Pelosi announces on an MSNBC morning TV show that she "believes the U.S. government should look at the children like "baby Jesus," who she added "was a refugee from violence."  Why has no one bothered to correct her analogy?  Oh, I forgot ... she was on MSNBC and no one else in Washington probably knows the truth, either.
    The truth behind her half-truth is this:  Yes, Jesus's parents, Joseph and Mary, were forced to flee Bethlehem to avoid King Herod's murderous rampage.  BUT, although they followed the instructions of the angel of the Lord and fled to a safer country (Egypt), they were told to remain there until they received further instruction.  When the violence had abated and the threat to the child was over, the angel told them to return back to their native land.  Jesus did not stay and become a citizen of Egypt.  Nor did his father seek a green card to stay in Egypt and reap worker benefits.
     I know this is a cynical approach to Pelosi's comments, but I am tired of the misrepresentation by  these corrupt politicians and what they hope to accomplish.  I resent her subtle references to the $3,700,000,000,000 proposal the President has asked for the border crisis.  She claims that, in Washington, she sees "an embrace of the idea that this is a humanitarian crisis by people who are not politicizing the issue. What we need to do is have the supplemental that gives us the resources to meet the humanitarian needs, to do the border control, but also to have the judicial piece so that these children have representation and judges to hear their cases. those who have a right to stay, whether it's refugee status or asylum."
     TRANSLATION:  We, in Washington -- especially those of us on the Left -- are smarter and more compassionate than the hateful, bigoted people (and their elected representatives on the Right) who oppose these poor, innocent "Border children", as they are now being called.  Furthermore, we need that money to 1) help these unfortunate children and "to do the border control" -- whatever the heck that's supposed to mean!  Why don't you elaborate, Nancy?  Do you mean calling out the National Guard? Hiring more border agents? Checking IDs and stopping the criminal and terrorist elements from invading our country?  Or is that just an inane slogan for something you have no intention of addressing?  Finally, she claims they need the money for "the judicial piece"; these children to be legally represented in our courts of law, don't you know?   Notice that she never offers the other solution ... return them to their native countries!
     Or could she really be referring to what TheBlaze.com has reported:  the Senate-passed immigration bill would create millions of new green card opportunities for non-U.S. citizens — about 30 million over the next decade.  As Senator Jeff Sessions noted, the Senate bill could allow almost every Central American family to enter the U.S. legally. How is this nation going to be able to afford that kind of immigration surge?
     But that's not the only sneaky thing this proposed bill seems to be about.  Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid has accused Congress of adding to the crisis by not immediately passing this emergency spending bill, saying if Congress doesn't act to supplement border activities, they are going to run out of money by the end of August.  But the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) reports that "only $25 million would be spent during the rest of FY 2014, which ends in September. Most of the rest of it would be spent in 2015, and spending would continue through 2020.  In addition, all of the spending in 2014 would take place in the Department of Health and Human Services. Obama’s plan would give the Department of Homeland Security $1.1 billion, but none of that money would be used until FY 2015."
     So why the rush for this money, if it does not appear that the bulk of it goes towards immediately solving the border crisis issues?  And is any of this money to be used for the expenses of sending any of these children back home?  Or is that not really even part of the consideration?  That has to be part of the conversation... we simply cannot continue the border calamity as it exists.
     But I would respectfully ask all politicians to stop insulting my intelligence and my faith.  As a private citizen, I have contributed tithing money to Christian organizations that I know are seeing to the humanitarian needs of these children as best they can.  And as a taxpayer, I will be contributing money as my state spends millions to alleviate the security issues that we face.  But please do not use the holy and precious name of my Lord and Savior in your vacuous arguments.  You not only offend me, but you show a remarkable lack of knowledge and judgment.

Romans 1:22    "Claiming to be wise, they became fools,"

July 9, 2014

The U.N. And Our Southern Border

     So now the United Nations has weighed in on the crisis at our southern border.  And it certainly seems as if they are trying to manipulate our national policy regarding immigration.  By simply designating a new definition of "refugee", they are trying to coerce the United States into accepting the thousands of people that are flocking to our country from Central America. 
     If you're like me, when I hear the word "refugee", I think of the millions who have been forced to flee their homelands due to political wars, or ethnic and religious persecution, such as that in Syria, Iraq or Sudan.  And if you're the U.N., and trying to interfere with our internal policies, then the word "refugee" is a much easier sell than "illegal immigrant." 
     I guess our sovereign laws aren't good enough for the U.N.  It's not enough that these people are ineligible for asylum according to our existing laws.  The U.N. wants to create a new refugee status that fits the dynamics of the illegal immigrants, thereby giving us no excuse for denying them entry into the country.
     According to a report by CBS News, it is the hope of officials with the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees that a meeting tomorrow between representatives from the U.S., Mexico, and Central America will result in an updating of a 30-year-old declaration regarding the obligations nations have to aid refugees.  That update would see "refugee" also defined as anyone fleeing armed conflict, or fleeing violence and extortion at the hands of criminal gangs.  
     Although any resolution coming out of this meeting would lack legal significance in the U.S., that doesn't stop the U.N. Commission from declaring that it believes  “the U.S. and Mexico should recognize that this is a refugee situation, which implies that they shouldn’t be automatically sent to their home countries but rather receive international protection.”
     Excuse me, but where is the "international" part of this solution?  All the burden is going to land right at our feet.  Mexico certainly won't be doing their share ... in fact, they are aiding the transportation of these poor people right to our doorstep.  It's quite obvious that these illegal immigrants will not become citizens of the international community or any other nation, for that matter.  
     I guess I just don't understand why the U.N., and leaders of Central American countries think it is incumbent upon us to become the receptacle for anyone who wants to enter our country.  It seems to me that El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Ecuador and Nicaragua have failed to control the violence and gang-related terrorism in their countries, and it is they who are responsible for the hundreds of thousands of people who are fleeing their homes.  Why are we responsible for their failures?  During a recent visit to the U.S., Honduran President Juan Orlando Hernandez said migrants from his country were “displaced by war” and called on the United States to acknowledge that.  I guess "acknowledging" it really means "take care of them".
     And just what is the ultimate goal for the politicians in Washington D.C.?  Is it Amnesty for all these illegal immigrants?  Is it to flood Texas with potential new voters that will turn the state into a never-ending Democrat-voting machine?  Is there no consideration for the brutality that these people are subjected to on their march north?  And what exactly is the thinking behind dropping busloads of them on unsuspecting towns throughout the U.S.?  And the big, fat, ugly elephant in the room is the fact that we all know that it is not just innocent children and families that are being let in.  Why not just hang a Welcome sign at the border, inviting in the drug cartel members and terrorists?
     Frankly, I'm not seeing anyone doing anything to solve this problem.  Yes, it is a "humanitarian crisis", as the news media and the politicians like to call it --- but it is much more than that.  It could become the catalyst that finally destroys our economy, our national security and our sovereignty.  And who is going to stop it?  We better be praying to God for an answer soon.

Proverbs 19:21    "Many are the plans in the mind of a man, but it is the purpose of the Lord that will stand."

July 7, 2014

The Manipulation Of The Masses

     I wrote the last few posts prior to the Independence Day holiday, which has given me a few days rest from world events in order to enjoy family and some much needed down time.  But it has also given me a clearer outlook as I peruse the news sites.  When you allow your mind and your emotions some breathing space, the big picture seems to come into focus just a little sharper.
      You see, it's easy to look at one issue or one development and zoom in on how it personally affects you.  I guess it's only natural in our self-absorbed world.  But as I took a quick glance at the top headlines, I began to see that circumstances around the globe all have one thing in common ... they are part of a global game to manipulate mankind -- to exploit and steer particular events in order to achieve the goal of domination and authority.
     It is quite apparent to me that it is the age-old battle between freedom and enslavement.  It has been at the heart of our existence since the Garden of Eden.  Simply put, man traded the freedom of an open, personal relationship with his Creator, to becoming a slave to sin.  We've paid the price ever since, and are now engaged in a spiritual battle for the survival of free men.
     You can see this battle in our own country as we are pitted against each other over the illegal immigration issue on our southern border.  Whether we realize it or not; whether we admit it or not, we are being maneuvered into position.  Through no choice of our own, we have been forced into accepting an unlawful influx of humanity that threatens to harm our safety, our health, the harmony of our communities, and most importantly, our rights as citizens.
     Yes, we are called on as Christians to help the poor and the oppressed, and one cannot deny that those who have fled tyranny and persecution need our help and our acceptance.  But, this flood of immigrants appears to be a cunning orchestration of a more devious nature.  There is no obvious plan to help these unfortunates, and their welfare is not the central issue.  In fact, it is not even being considered!  This "campaign" has most certainly not been about loving your fellow man, and the result has been a tremendous lack of resources, the advent of disease, disruption of our national security, and conflict between citizens.
     And let's not forget that the thousands of people flooding across our border are not exclusively the poor and downtrodden.  There have been credible witnesses that testify to the violent criminal gangs and foreign terrorists that are among the illegal immigrants.  Yet if anyone dares to mention this possibility, you are dismissed as a racist and bigot.
     The Bible is very clear that citizens should never mistreat the "strangers" that live among them. However, just as sojourners in Israel were required to obey God's laws before receiving His blessings, the strangers among us should also be required to obey the laws of the land before receiving the same benefits and privileges that come to citizens.  Yet are we seeing any kind of order or lawfulness to this massive flood of immigrants?
     But could this be the ultimate goal?  Wouldn't this be a great strategy if you wanted to create chaos and deny people the freedom to determine how their society would be conducted?  If you wanted to eliminate freedom, wouldn't you make the people slaves of a system that was out of control?
     And it's not just happening here in America.  Whether you are viewing the upheaval in the Middle East and the emergence of the Caliphate, or the ongoing turmoil in the Ukraine/Russia conflict, the results are all the same ... to create an event(s) that is designed to disrupt the free will of men and to crush their spirits.  That is the very foundation of Good vs. Evil; of freedom vs. enslavement.
     What we are seeing today is nothing new; these forces have been battling since the beginning of time.  But it seems to me that the Enemy has managed to engineer multiple fronts in this warfare.  There are hotspots all over the world where it threatens to spiral out of control and where rules of conduct and just laws do not exist.  And it has been carefully designed and directed to happen just as it is.  The masses find themselves at odds with their rulers and authorities, and the thought of peace and mutual tolerance seems fanciful.  The forces that are confronting us are becoming stronger and it is time we recognize that we are being handled in a very skillful manner.
     We must not allow ourselves to be pushed into a corner or up against a wall.  We must not allow ourselves to be baited into a predetermined response or mindset.  We know the laws by which we must obey, and they are God's.  As formidable as these turn of events around the world might appear, we are not resigned for defeat or blind acceptance.  Keep an eye on the goal that God offers, not what the world's rulers are asserting.  The battle lines have been drawn, and it will be a fierce fight.  Just remember that we are designed for freedom not enslavement ... and Good will triumph over Evil.

1 Corinthians 6:12     "All things are lawful for me," but not all things are helpful.  "All things are lawful for me," but I will not be enslaved by anything.

June 24, 2014

Let's Look At The Entire Picture

     I have heard various member of the Mainstream Media decrying the "inhuman" conditions that the illegal immigrants are enduring on our Southern border.  Pictures flood the airwaves of thousands of children crowded into what amounts to holding tanks.  And the talking heads criticize the Border Patrol for compelling these unaccompanied minors to be housed in such dangerous and unhealthy conditions.
     It is true that conditions are abysmal.  It is also true that these minors have traveled hundreds, sometimes thousands, of miles to freedom, only to find themselves restricted from "the promised land".  But that appears to be temporary and is only part of the story.
     Our Border Patrol has suddenly found themselves being overwhelmed because of the misguided policy of our federal government.  There is no room to house the vast quantity of people.  The immigrants, themselves, have told Border agents that they are streaming in unprecedented numbers to our country because rumors about so-called “permisos” – permission to stay in the United States – are running wild across Central America.  The word is that they will be welcomed and given entry.  Our Border Patrol has been given no help in dealing with this influx, and they have simply been deluged by this flood of humanity.
     As Fox News has reported, the sheer numbers of children and "family units" arriving daily has swamped the system.  The children and unaccompanied minors can’t be immediately sent back – and they can’t be left alone in the U.S. to fend for themselves. They are supposed to be handed off to the Department of Health and Human Services within 72 hours.  The numbers simply make that impossible.  And as many children as have crossed the border, their numbers are eclipsed by the "family units" racing to get into the United States. They are traveling hundreds of miles with small children, knowing that under U.S. law, they will not be deported immediately. Many of them are in the advanced stages of pregnancy and will likely have a child that will become an American citizen.
     The problem is not one that has an easy solution.  What makes it worse is that the men and women that comprise the U.S. Border patrol have been instructed not to talk to the media.  But why?  Will they cast a shadow on the image of helpless children that pro-Amnesty supporters want the American people to see?  Will their testimony cast doubt on the Department of Homeland Security's policy of "deferred action for childhood arrivals?" This policy allows children and family units to stay in the U.S. for at least three months pending removal action.  And scariest of all, do these images belie the threat of possible terrorists integrating among the innocents?
     Texas Representative Henry Cuellar, who is a Democrat, by the way, is critical of our current immigration policies.  “If you're a pregnant woman, or you're a family unit, they’re gonna give you a piece of paper where you promise to show up in 90 days,” Cuellar told Fox. “And I tell you, they're not going to show up in 90 days. No way.”
     Does our immigration policy need to be rewritten? Strengthened? Updated? Absolutely!  But creating a humanitarian crisis in an effort to overwhelm and collapse the current system is not only unethical; it is immoral.  These are people, not just numbers.  And we are encouraging them and exploiting them for political gain, while censoring and threatening our hard-working Border Patrol agents for speaking the truth.   They will tell you there are those seeking asylum because they love the freedom this country offers, and those who want nothing more than to destroy the freedom that America represents.  Sadly, we are not just facing embattled fronts in Afghanistan and Iraq; we now have a new line to defend and it is on our own Southern border.  May Heaven's hosts protect us!

UPDATE:  Texas Governor Rick Perry is now using up to $1.3 million per week to secure the Texas Border.  Texas Department of Public Safety officers will assist Border Patrol agents in dealing with the humanitarian crisis.  Meanwhile a small town in the state of Virginia refused to become the location of a large illegal immigrant shelter, housing hundreds of Central American children.  The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services must now try to relocate these vulnerable children to a new site.  This crisis is growing out of control!

Psalm 91:11    "For He will give His angels [especial] charge over you to accompany and defend and preserve you in all your ways [of obedience and service]."


June 5, 2014

It's The Children Who Suffer

     Today, I shift from commentary on the blessed prospects of our nation's high school graduates to the uncertain hope of thousands of immigrant children sent across our borders.  If you live in Texas, you are aware of the reports by the Border Patrol of the rapidly rising influx of unaccompanied immigrant children arriving at the border in the Rio Grande Valley.  Some are as young as 2 or 3, and they are often traveling without any parent or custodian; just trying to escape the tyranny, death, slavery and starvation occurring in their homelands.  It is not only Mexicans attempting to illegally enter the United States, but large numbers of children from Central American countries.  
     I would like to offer you a first-hand account from a friend of mine.  Betty is one of the most obedient Christian women I know.  She is in her late 70s and has served as my friend and mentor.  She is always an inspiration, and as she tells her story of Christian service to these immigrant children, I want us all to let go of our political and social biases and see them as God sees them ... His children.  Here is Betty's story:

     I am sending you this because of what I saw and did this past week on my deployment for Texas Baptist Men Disaster Team.  Let me say that during the more than 40+ years God has used TBM to relieve suffering and bring in His harvest, it is because we have not been a political organization.  We have very capable people at the top who work with FEMA, Red Cross, Salvation Army, and governments around the world.  We never go anywhere without an invitation, and when our leaders decide what they want us to do, and that we are willing to do what they ask, then the word is passed down to people called "White Caps", who then pass it on to "Blue caps" who supervise the many different teams and units who are staffed by "Yellow caps".
     Now having given you that information let me simply say, unless you are a White cap, you do not have an opinion.  You do the job, in a fashion that glorifies the Father, or you turn in your cap and go home.  Otherwise we would not have been able to get in the many places we go, for each place has their own agenda.  As long as we stick to ours, which in my case is to wash and dry clothes, and show the love of Christ, and sometimes in word, we do great things and God blesses.   But we do not give interviews, violate anyone's dignity or privacy, nor speak our minds where it is not asked.  So now please do not reply telling me what America should be doing, or how you would solve the problem.  If that is your wish, run for office.
     A bit over a week ago I received word from TBM that we were going to the [Rio Grande] Valley ... a total of six people headed out, not knowing what we were facing ... We worked most days until 11:30 pm before our tired bodies were put to bed; but still under His grace they continued to work.
     But let me tell you that we cleaned the dirtiest clothes I have ever seen, worn by the most precious children I have ever seen.  Their estimated ages were from infants to 14.  At first we did not have close communication or interaction with them, but like each deployment when the officials know they can trust us, God opens doors.  So by the time we left we were touching them, helping them, playing with them through those who could speak the language, and they responded. They were just children, much like yours and mine.
     I would not disclose the following information, except the press already has.  These minor, unaccompanied children have walked -- some over 1000 miles -- to get to freedom; many with addresses of legal family members in the US where they were cleaned up and flown out.  Some will be later adopted by families in this country.   These were not law breakers.  These were babies, caught up in evil plans by adults to "sell" these precious ones into slavery, and they were intercepted by people to save their lives.   I believe that is what the God we serve would have us do.
     For one shining moment we had the opportunity to touch them with loving hands, good food, clean clothes, and smiles.  Some of the children could speak English and helped us to translate so that we could speak with the others.  They helped me say, with a word of love, that I had come to tell them Jesus loved them, had died to give them a relationship with Him, and He had sent me to tell them that.  As I finished with each child,  I would say to the one translating for me, "Tell them my prayers will go with them that God's love and protection will go before them", and one little girl said to the translator, "Is this America?"  I wept.
     It is not a perfect world.  We can't save them all.  But we can do whatever God allows us to, and work hard to honor Him.  And it should not surprise you that the unsaved powers in our government learned to trust us, get out of our way, and let us do the jobs we are well trained to do.  Even hardened Border guards lightened up.   If even for a few days, they could relax a bit because we are there helping them.  And in this atmosphere, God brings in the harvest both from the children, and from officials, who never thought they needed to seek God in the first place.  By showing them the love of Christ, they want what we have.

     Betty's email to me ended with these few encouraging thoughts:  How you can make a difference is to pray, to give, and to go.  This work is not for everyone, but it happens to be my journey of joy.  If you can't go, you can pray; and when God provides you can give.
     Secondly, you can seek the Father as to what you can do.  The Scripture we lovingly call the great commission is simply our marching orders:  As you go, teach them all you know of the Christ....that is a Betty translation.
     In my more than 75 years of serving the Lord, and much of that in ministry, I have learned three words that stand me in a good place:
1.  Sovereign:  God does have the whole world in His hand.  He knows what is going on and I can trust Him with my life.  Sure, I work as safely as I know how, but ultimately His protection goes with me.  Twenty-five years of working in infectious disease taught me that.
2.  Holy:  God cannot use me if my vessel is dirty.  His love only seeps through when my life is broken, and given in service.  In all the broken places, His love and grace flow out.
3.  Relax:  That means if He is trust worthy, and I am living my holy life, I can relax.  Taking one day at a time. When I follow the first two, the rest of the way is a piece of cake.  I simply do today, the job He gives me, in the way He provides.  I take one step at a time, in the light, as He provides.  I have learned when I get up and follow Him, the light always proceeds where I need to step.
     Many thanks to the God we serve, and may all we do collectively, honor Him.

     As you can see by this testimony, my friend Betty is a Godly woman.  We all know that our immigrant "problem" will not be easily solved.  But, through this experience, she has shown us that it is more important to carry out Christ's commission to teach the world about Him.  Betty refers to herself as "a planter of the seed."  She relies on God's higher power to water that seed and make it grow.  But she knows if she doesn't plant, there will be no harvest.  May we all have the grace to view all of God's children in this merciful light.  Thank you, Betty, for sharing your experience and showing us the human and spiritual side of this crisis.  At the end of the day, that's what counts.

Matthew 18:14   "So it is not the will of my Father who is in heaven that one of these little ones should perish." 

June 20, 2013

Immigration: A Complicated Mess

     As the subtitle of my blog points out, I write from my perspective as a normal, God-fearing American woman.  I don't have access to any more information than the average citizen.  Perhaps I pay a little more attention to domestic and world events, but there are lots smarter people than me among our nation's inhabitants.
     That's why this whole issue of immigration is so darn distressing.  I live on a border state and I see the effects of an unenforced immigration policy.  The drug cartels are becoming an increasingly dangerous aspect of our everyday lives.  Crime is on the rise; my health insurance premiums are skyrocketing to cover the healthcare costs of non-citizens; and it's not just Mexicans who are crossing our borders indiscriminately.
Let me make it perfectly clear that I do not condemn any law-abiding Mexican citizen who wants to escape the hell-hole that is Mexico for a better life in the U.S.  If I were them, I would do everything in my power to save my family from the corruption and desperation that is life in Mexico.  But I could tell you hair-raising stories from personal friends who have encountered members of the drug cartels and terrorist organizations on their properties; tales that range from finding prayer rugs and Qurans in the middle of pastures, to testimonies of being shot at with high-powered rifles as they traveled down ranch roads, to returning home from a grocery-shopping trip to find their gate smashed in and an abandoned cartel vehicle in their driveway.  These are not the stories you are hearing on your nightly news.  These are the stories no one wants to talk about.
     Instead we see all the lame and bi-partisan bickering among those who are elected to serve the American people.  I am getting pretty sick and tired of the pandering by both parties to try and figure out how to secure their power for the next generation.  I am disheartened to hear that "amnesty" should take precedence over securing the border.  I'm all for encouraging hard-working immigrants to join our ranks and become an American; we are a boiling pot of different cultures, and we are made a better and stronger nation when new groups assimilate their talents, virtues and moral codes with our unparalleled American values.  But none of that will happen if the evil that is traversing our borders continues to have free access and is allowed to gain a foothold.  I fear the consequences of what one group of men could do to an American city.
     It's a sad fact that I don't trust any of our leaders --- from either party --- to do what is best for the American citizen.  Every day we hear of back room meetings and closed door summits, and I sincerely doubt they are discussing how to protect the tax-paying, legal residents of this country.  Is there a solution that will please everyone?   That will allow immigrants to become legal citizens and guarantee that our government will protect the borders and sovereignty of this nation?  To be honest, I'm not sure there is.  And I guess the thing I resent the most is that everyone seems to be trying so darned hard to figure out how to make the millions of illegal residents legitimate voters.  What about my vote?  It obviously doesn't count for much and I'm not part of any voting bloc that they are courting.  And so I don't have much hope that the decisions being made in the halls of Congress this week will benefit me. Because I am realizing that it is no longer about me, the normal, God-fearing American citizen.  There is a new concept of America on the horizon, and one I worry that I will no longer recognize.  I sense a rush to make the most of an opportunity, regardless of whether it is best for the country or not.   I can't help but think of that old adage, the devil takes a hand in what is done in haste.

Proverbs 11:14     "For lack of guidance a nation falls, but victory is won through many advisers."

May 2, 2013

How Our Ineffective Immigration Policy Affects the Economy

     I ran across an astute article on ZeroHedge that put our national debate on Immigration in perspective.  I honestly struggle with this issue and see so many sides to the arguments.  Having personally come in contact with an illegal immigrant on our property in South Texas, both PLW and I were struck with the human element in this hotly contested dialogue.  As Christians, how do you turn your back on a fellow human being who is tired, thirsty and fleeing his third-world country for a better life for his family?  On the other hand, as a nation, we are not only going broke on the backs of the tide of immigrants, but are suffering from the added components of crime and drugs that have invaded our homeland.  Frankly, I cannot offer a solution and do not see our elected officials offering an effective way out of this crisis.
     But for those, who don't truly understand the impact of our Immigration problems, let me give you some quick facts that will show you why this dilemma is costing us dearly:
1.   The Border Patrol’s budget increased 149% from 2002 to 2012 (from $1.4 to $3.5 billion).   This agency has the largest budget within the Homeland Security network.  Border patrol staff has also more than doubled over the last 10 years, with the biggest staff increases at the northern Points of Entry. Don't you find that curious?  With all the unreported violence, crime, and signs of terrorists along our Southern border, I find this reprehensible and disgraceful!
2.   Even with an increased budget and staff, apprehensions of illegal immigrants are down 62%.  Experts point to two reasons for this disparity:  Either Border patrol agents are doing a poor job (or more likely are "hampered" from doing their duty); or fewer people are crossing the border due to our poor economy.  When people are no longer trying to sneak into our country for work, then that's a pretty good sign that the economy is weak.
3.   Based on these budget figures, the cost of an apprehension is now $9,680, up 533% in the last 10 years.  The total cost of arresting, detaining, court costs and deporting each illegal immigrant is approximately $12,500, according to Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE).  That sounds like a pretty expensive --- and inefficient --- system to me.
4.  The drug trade is spread across the different Points of Entry (POEs).  Marijuana comes in from the Southwest POEs, cocaine from the "Coastal" border (New Orleans, Miami), and Ecstacy from the Northern POEs.  You also might be surprised at this report:  671 firearms, 128,000 rounds of ammo, and $7.6 million in cash was confiscated.  Mind you, that is what was "reported".  So the Immigration policy is not just about people, it is about crime!
5.  While the largest immigrant population is still from Mexico, the net migration from that country is waaaay down.  Immigrants from China, the Philippines and the Dominican Republic have increased dramatically, indicating that our immigration policy has become globalized, and therefore a much more complicated reform system is needed.  Once again, the drop off in Mexican immigrants foretells our weak economy.
6.   No single country can receive more than 7% of the allotted green cards available (140,000).  Only 1.2% were approved.  But Mexico is excluded from this lottery, and given special "Border crossing" status, resulting in 1.5 million cards being issued in 2012.  Naturalization, which is separate from green cards and visas, is even more complicated, with each region of the world having a varied "waiting period".  For instance, immigrants from Africa wait 5 years for citizenship; Asians and South Americans wait 6 years; Europe 7; Oceania 8; and North American immigrants wait 10 years.  It goes without saying that our immigration structure is overly complicated.  Streamlining it would undoubtedly result in making immigrants productive citizens quicker.  It would also be less expensive!
7.   The majority of immigrant visas were granted to relatives or "family-sponsored" members.   That breaks down to 75% of visas were granted to siblings, spouses and children, while only 4% went to "employment-based preference" visas.  At least Congress seems to be trying to act responsibly on this front, focusing on reforming current policy to favor high-skill employment visas over familial visa grants.  Perceived value to the US economy will have a higher priority.
8.   According to the Census Bureau's Current Population Survey, the average foreign, non-citizen in the US, is older, rents their home and makes less money than the average American.  But, more importantly, this survey also shows that the majority of non-citizens are NOT single, young men looking for work.  The statistics show that there are millions of women and children that are part of this demographic, which accounts for the escalating welfare rolls as the household income cannot support these numbers.
9.   The Congressional Budget Office estimates that half of illegal immigrants pay taxes.   While this certainly indicates that not all illegal immigrants are a drain on our tax revenue, doubtlessly the other half that don't pay any local, state or federal taxes do add to the burden of other tax-payers.  Someone has to make up the deficit, and we are feeling the pinch on our wallets!
10.  The Center for American Progress (a "Progressive" think tank) purports that an additional $1.4 trillion could be added to our GDP if the "pathway to citizenship" could be streamlined.   I agree .... IF .... there is a comprehensive effort to reduce welfare spending, which is totally out of control!  The standards for receiving welfare benefits have been lowered, and it is quite obvious in my local community that people who are quite capable of buying bread, milk, and frozen pizzas are not suffering any great financial hardship.  They are simply taking advantage of a slipshod system that offers "free" food.  I'm all for offering aid to those who truly need a helping hand, but when the EBT card comes out of a wallet and purse that costs several times more than what I've ever owned, then something is definitely wrong!
     Bottom line to this whole controversy is the necessity to dramatically reform our current immigration policy.  I'm not too confident that it will be done equitably or fairly for all; politics and votes play too large a part in any kind of compromise or meaningful revamping.  But I do know this:  our economy is suffering and we must come up with a solution that affords us national security, skilled workers, and an end to the welfare state.  We cannot continue in our current direction or we will find ourselves in a financial abyss.

Titus 3:14      "Our people must learn to devote themselves to doing what is good, in order to provide for urgent needs and not live unproductive lives."