It can be easy for us evangelicals to allow our understanding of the sanctity of life to be limited to matters surrounding abortion. In fact, one of the charges that is often leveled against the pro-life community is that we only care about people while they are in the womb; after they are born, we pat them on the back and tell the family, “Good luck!” In this way, we are accused of being the type of person James warned about in James 2:15-16. Far too often, that charge is sadly accurate.
On MLK Day 2018, a Detroit resident named Jorge Garcia was deported to Mexico. Garcia had been brought to the US about 30 years ago when he was only 10 years old. Between the time he arrived here and now, he married a US citizen, had two children (aged 12 and 15), and has been by all accounts a productive member of society. His criminal record is spotless and he works and pays taxes. Over this time, he also has sought to correct his legal status in this nation, but has been rebuffed because of the illegal action of the aunt who brought him here in the first place. Through the process, Garcia has willingly and voluntarily kept in touch with immigration officials. Though he was ordered to leave the nation, that decision was deferred until this past November, when he was detained at a voluntary check-in. He was allowed to stay through the holidays, with a deportation date of January 15. He is now in Mexico City, trying to make sense of a country that he does not know. It is very likely that if nothing changes, he will be barred from entering the US or even applying for citizenship for 10 years.
How should we approach this from a Biblical worldview? We cannot deny this is a messy situation, without a simple, pat answer. Yes, Garcia violated immigration law by being here, but we must ask ourselves, does he have culpability for that violation? As a child he would not be considered competent in our legal system; as an adult, he sought to rectify the situation through legal means, hiring attorneys and going through the process. Yet our laws did not (and do not) offer any recognition for such situations. I agree with our ERLC, which has stated, “Young immigrants brought to the United States by their parents are a special category of undocumented immigrants and should be treated differently. The children, many of whom have known no other home country than the United States, did not consent to breaking immigration laws and should not be punished for a crime they did not commit.” As it stands now, both political parties seek to score political points from this situation, not caring about the real people involved. That is utterly infuriating and we must demand more from those who represent us.
As conservative evangelicals, we make much of the importance of the family and we lament how the family structure is undermined in our society. We proclaim and uphold the family structure as God designed it. We know the consequences of fatherless homes that has been borne out by social science research. In all of this, we affirm the sanctity of life, specifically life within the family. In the case of Jorge Garcia, we have a specific case of a family torn apart, a husband and a father being sent to a foreign country. If nothing changes, he will not see his children graduate from high school and might not even have the chance to walk his daughter down the aisle to give her away on her wedding day. Yet I have seen numerous believers demonstrate little compassion for this family, instead arguing that he deserves to be deported. But isn’t this precisely the kind of situation we long for in terms of those who come to this country? Granted, Garcia was illegally brought here, without any input or self-determination, but he has also tried to make it right. He has worked, he has contributed, and he has done what we would ask. For that, he was punished. I certainly am not advocating for us to disobey the law, but I do think it is time for us to seriously think about the laws we have and how they square with biblical concepts of justice and mercy, particularly for the foreigner in our land. God’s Word has much to say about that. Just something to think about…