MSNBC’s Kasie Hunt pressed Republican Congressman Jim Jordan repeatedly on Tuesday as to whether the Trump administration’s crackdown on illegal immigration at the border is the “Christian” approach to the problem.
Last month, Attorney Gen. Jeff Sessions announced a “zero tolerance” policy for those crossing into the United States illegally, NPR reported.
“If you cross this border unlawfully, then we will prosecute you. It’s that simple,” said Sessions. “If you smuggle illegal aliens across our border, then we will prosecute you. If you are smuggling a child, then we will prosecute you and that child will be separated from you as required by law. If you don’t like that, then don’t smuggle children over our border.”
The attorney general explained in an interview with conservative radio talk show host Hugh Hewitt earlier this month that the treatment of children of illegal immigrants facing prosecution is no different than that of American citizens.
“(E)very time somebody … gets prosecuted in America for a crime, American citizens, and they go to jail, they’re separated from their children,” he said.
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The Washington Post reported that the children of those arrested by U.S. immigration officials are transferred to the Department of Health and Human services, which then seeks to place them with relatives or foster parents.
Hewitt questioned Sessions about the morality of enforcing the law in that manner in the case of asylum seekers, and the attorney general responded those seeking asylum should come through an an official port of entry and not cross illegally.
MSNBC’s Hunt asked Jordan, “Jeff Sessions has announced he’s changing the rules for asylum seekers. Those people who are coming and saying that they’re victims of domestic violence will not be able to find asylum here in the United States. Do you think that’s a Christian approach?”
Jordan did not directly respond to Hunt’s question initially.
Is it Christian to enforce the nation’s immigration laws?
“What I do know is the asylum laws need to be changed,” he said. “When some 19-year-old can come here and say there’s a credible fear of persecution, and that 19-year-old is actually a part of MS-13, we’ve got to change our asylum laws.”
Hunt persisted, saying she was not interested in the case of the MS-13 gang member, but offered the example of a young woman who is the victim of domestic violence in her home country seeking to enter the U.S.
The representative again emphasized that the nation’s asylum laws are currently too easy to abuse.
“I’m saying, in a general sense, our asylum laws have to change. Because anyone can show up at the border, they’ve been coached to say ‘I have a credible fear of persecution,’” Jordan said.
“Certainly we don’t want any domestic violence victims not getting refuge and safety from that. But what I’m saying is, the asylum laws have to be changed. Everyone agrees with that,” he added.
Hunt would not let her Christian line of questioning go saying. “You’re saying that’s the Christian approach to that? ” she asked. “Is it un-Christian?”
Jordan said his role as an elected representative is to keep his word to his constituents.
He said that the nation needs “an immigration bill that is consistent with what we told the American people — sanctuary cities need to be changed, E-Verify, chain migration, visa lottery, building a border security wall.”
“Let’s focus on all of those policies that were front and center in the campaign and then we will also deal with the DACA population. Let’s have that kind of bill. That’s consistent with what we told the American people we were going to do if they elected us,” Jordan said.
Hunt circled back one more time. “I’m still not hearing you argue that it’s a Christian policy, sir,” she said.
“Of course it’s not a Christian policy to say someone who’s being abused, you shouldn’t help them,” Jordan answered. But he also said “we’ve got to know all the facts and what’s actually happening on the border.”
“They come in and say it and whatever they say they get in, whether it’s true or not,” he continued. “If someone is actually being abused, of course we want to help those individuals.”
Christian leaders have come down on both sides of the illegal immigration issue, with many agreeing it is certainly a Christian’s responsibility to treat all with respect and dignity, as we would like to be treated — i.e. the Golden Rule.
Some advocating for a more lenient approach in dealing with illegal immigrants point to the Old Testament admonition: “And if a stranger dwells with you in your land, you shall not mistreat him. The stranger who dwells among you shall be to you as one born among you, and you shall love him as yourself; for you were strangers in the land of Egypt: I am the Lord your God.”
Fuller Theological Seminary professor Dr. Mark Roberts writes that this verse (Leviticus 33:29) must be balanced with Romans 13:1-2, which reads: “Let every person be subject to the governing authorities; for there is no authority except from God, and those authorities that exist have been instituted by God. Therefore whoever resists authority resists what God has appointed, and those who resist will incur judgment.”
Old Testament professor Dr. James Hoffmeier, with Trinity Evangelical Divinity School, argues that the Leviticus verse is often misapplied in the immigration debate.
“Simplistic application of 3,000-year-old laws to American society is ill-advised until one thoroughly understands what was meant by ‘stranger’ in this verse,” he writes in a piece for Religious News.
Hoffmeier contends that “stranger,” which is also translated “alien,” was someone with a legal status to be in the land. He notes that Pharaoh himself granted permission for the ancient Hebrews to dwell in Egypt.
The Christian thinker relates it would be akin to someone having a green card status in modern America.
“My intention here is not to discourage utilizing biblical principles to shape public policy and law, but to call out the abuse of Scripture and to urge that it first be read carefully and contextually before emotionally satisfying, but simplistic and inaccurate, interpretations are applied to 21st-century American issues,” he writes.
Hoffmeier concludes, saying, “Certainly Christians should not be made to feel guilty by the exploitation of Scripture by social justice activists who seek to advance a particular political agenda.”
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