Virtually everybody concurs that there is a quandary in the United States concerning immigration. However, what exactly is the problem is passionately debated. It is an issue that can be described by one word: messy. Take the story of Juan and Maria Alvarado (not their real names). Their patchwork life consisted of working long hours at whatever jobs they could find in their native Mexico. When their first child was born, crossing the border illegally seemed like the most logical move for a better life.
After all American companies were begging for workers. But a legal work visa took years to obtain and the baby didn’t have years to wait for food, clothing, and shelter. The situation led the Alvarado’s to slip into California, find jobs, and start anew. Soon friends in their new land invited them to their church where Juan and Maria met Christ. Salvation changed their worldview and not having legal documentation bothered them. So they entered the process to become documented, legal workers.
As the process grinded on two more children came along and a cousin’s invitation prompted a move to the Midwest, where they found a new church family and the better life they were searching for. But a routine traffic stop changed everything. When police checked Juan’s identification card his name matched that of a wanted felon. By the time his innocence was clarified, the Immigration and Naturalization Service had been called and within a few days Juan was deported back to Mexico.
Maria is struggling to say the least. The baby that inspired them to cross the border is now a teen who has traded her dreams of college for the reality of filling the role of her deported daddy, providing a second income as she helps parent her siblings. Who’s at fault? The Alvarado’s for immigrating? The companies who lured them? The two churches involved in their lives? Bureaucrats?
Unlike politicians and “talking heads” on television, as Christians we don’t have the convenience of making immigration a zero sum game. We should realize the answers surrounding situations like the Alvarado’s will always be imprecise. Tomorrow I will begin a brief theological/philosophical look at the situation.