The Death of a DREAM

Everyone can breathe a sigh of relief. America will not be destroyed. The undocumented children living in the United States will stay in the shadows and margins of society where they belong. Sure, we’ll be forced to give them a high school education – heck, we give anyone a high school education whether they deserve it by birth-right or not – but they won’t go using it to get a college education or a tax-paying job.

As I predicted – and I need not have been much of a prophet to do it – the DREAM Act failed to get enough votes in the Senate to move the bill forward. Only three Republicans dared to support it – lame duck Bob Bennett of Utah, undefeatable Dick Lugar of Indiana, and the write-in re-elected Lisa Murkowski of Alaska. Even former sponsors Orin Hatch and John McCain felt too much heat from the fear-mongerers to continue their support.

The opponents of a productive future for undocumented children demanded all sorts of concessions in the bill to which sponsors acquiesced, including attaching hefty fees for those wanting to apply for conditional residency under the Act, narrowing the eligible age group, making sure the relatives of those using the Act could never gain residency though sponsorship like those of other legal residents, and extending the period of conditional residency from six to ten years before someone under the act could apply (again with hefty fees, lots of complicated paperwork, and up to a year-long wait) for permanent residency (which would then have to be followed by another five years before being eligible to pay more fees, file more paperwork, and wait months for citizenship).  Yet despite having all the demands met to water down the bill, those who made the demands still refused to vote to let the bill be considered.

I was particularly disappointed by the excuses given by the Senators from my home state of Texas. John Cornyn said, “I am sympathetic to the plight of children who have no moral culpability for being in this country illegally and I support the intent of the bill today, but not this legislation and not this way.” Unfortunately, he didn’t say which legislation and which way would allow him to vote with his sympathies.

Kay Bailey Hutchinson opted for a outright lie rather than Cornyn’s ambiguous drivel. She said, “I could not support the DREAM Act legislation brought before the Senate today because it expanded the scope of the bill beyond the intended individuals who were brought here as children and were educated in the United States.” Not only is that made up out of whole cloth, but the real reason Hutchinson could not support the bill was because she had been threatened by conservatives. After all, when a much broader bill was before the Senate in 2007 she said,

“This is such an important piece of legislation, and I do think this is isolated from the entire immigration issue because there … are young people who have been brought to this country as minors, not of their own doing, who have gone to American high schools, graduated, and who want to go to American colleges. They are in a limbo situation. I believe we should deal with this issue. We should do it in a way that helps assimilate these young people with a college education into our country. They have lived here most of their lives. If we sent them home, they wouldn’t know what home is. There is a compassionate reason for us to try to work this out.”

In the meantime, she alienated the furthest right-wing of the GOP in running against Rick Perry and can’t afford to lose their support in 2012. Somebody has to pay the price and it is certainly easiest to put it on those who have no voice and if her supporters have their way, will never have a voice.

Speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves,
for the rights of all who are destitute.
Speak up and judge fairly;
defend the rights of the poor and needy.

Proverbs 31:8-9

The Greatest Entitlement

Americans, for the most part, do not like the idea of someone getting something for nothing. You want something, you pay for it. We conservatives especially cringe at the idea of entitlements.

Except for citizenship. For most Americans, the best citizenship is free citizenship. Sure, we are happy to let a few selected customers pay for a second-class version of it, but for the vast majority, it is something that neither has to be earned nor purchased.

Those few who pay for it also have to prove they deserve it. They have to spend a lot of money and go through a complicated process just to prove they should be allowed to even get the chance to earn it. Once that hurdle it overcome, they have to contribute to the economy for a specified period of time during which they can be thrown out of the country at the caprice of a judge or a legislature. They have to pass an exam to show that they know enough to become a real American. They have to pay another considerable amount of money to the Government, in addition to anything they pay to a lawyer to help them find their way through the maze of naturalization.

Wouldn’t it be the real American way to make everyone pay for it? Why not make the right to vote contingent on passing an exam and paying a $680 fee? Why should people get this for nothing just because they happened to be born in the US or have parents who happened to be born American? After all, many of these people have not contributed anything to the economy and for some even their parents have contributed nothing.

If we are going to deny millions of willing, working people the opportunity to even pay their way to citizenship then it only seems right that those who are not assets to the country should not be deciding its future as an entitlement of the accident of birth.

What the Arizona Court Order Actually Says

There seems to be some confusion about the prelimiary injunction ordered by U.S. District Judge Susan Bolton with regard to Arizona Senate Bill 1070. Reading both the press and the blogs, there are misunderstandings, misconstructions, oversimplifications, and lots of rhetoric, especially wondering how the judge could rule this way when (they presume) the Arizona law mimics federal law. I have read the court order and this is my legal – not political – analysis:

The judge started off by explaning which provisions of the statute are being enjoined from enforcement and which are not. Almost all of the statute stands and is enforceable pending trial on the merits. Four narrow provisions are temporarily enjoined. She concludes this section by stating the legal basis of the injunction, viz., that the moving party is likely to succeed on the merits with regard to those provisions when the case is tried and the moving party would suffer irreparable harm if the court does not provide preliminary relief, as well as the tests of the balance of equities and public interest. This is the same standard used in any case.

In the next section, the judge provides a good overview of federal immigration law that is worthy of reading by a lot of people here and on other blogs who seemed to be confused by it. There is a good overview of the relevant portions of SB 1070.

The judge then gives a good explanation of why she cannot and will not enjoin all of SB 1070 as the Government moved.

Addressing each provision, she starts with Section 2(B), which does not mimic any federal law, but says that if someone who is stopped, detained, or arrested is suspected of being an unauthorized alien they have to have their immigration status determined before they are released. This places a substantial burden on both citizens and lawful aliens (citing Hines v. Davidowitz), as well as a burden on federal resources (citing Buckman Co. v. Plaintiffs’ Legal Comm.) forcing reallocation of resources from higher priorities directly related to national security. The judge then footnoted the possible 4th Amendment issues, but did not use them as the basis of her ruling.

With regard to Section 3, this also does not mimic federal law, but rather creates a separate state offense with state penalties for violating a federal law. This runs contrary to Hines in several ways as clearly set out. Not really a shocker. Preemption is pretty obvious and success at trial very likely.

With regard to their Section 4 challenge, the Government is not likely to succeed, because they are seeking to enjoin a section of the statute that was amended by Section 4 of SB 1070 but not the actual change brought about by Section 4. No injunction.

The injunction with regard to Section 5 involves the portion that criminalizes unauthorized aliens who attempt to get work or actually work. Again, this does not mimic federal law. Congress specifically did not impose criminal or civil penalties on employees when it chose to do so on employers. The judge ruled that because the Arizona statute conflicts with a comprehensive federal scheme, it is preempted.

The Government attempted two further injunctions with regard to Section 5 but did not succeed.

Section 6 of SB 1070 does not mimic federal law and provides that an officer may arrest a person without a warrant if the officer has probable cause to believe that “the person to be arrested has committed any public offense that makes the person removable from the United States.” This would include any offense that might have been committed at any time outside of Arizona. The judge cites Justice Alito in Padilla v. Kentucky:

providing advice on whether a conviction for a particular offense will make an alien removable is often quite complex. “Most crimes affecting immigration status are not specifically mentioned by the [Immigration and Nationality Act (INA)], but instead fall under a broad category of crimes such as crimes involving moral turpitude or aggravated felonies.” M. Garcia & L. Eig, CRS Report for Congress, Immigration Consequences of Criminal Activity (Sept. 20, 2006) (summary) (emphasis in original). As has been widely acknowledged, determining whether a particular crime is an “aggravated felony” or a “crime involving moral turpitude [(CIMT)]” is not an easy task.

As a result or this and the fact that it would also require Arizona officers to make judgments with regard to non-Arizona statutes, Judge Bolton ruled:

Considering the substantial complexity in determining whether a particular public offense makes an alien removable from the United States and the fact that this determination is ultimately made by federal judges, there is a substantial likelihood that officers will wrongfully arrest legal resident aliens under the new A.R.S. § 13-3883(A)(5). By enforcing this statute, Arizona would impose a “distinct, unusual and extraordinary” burden on legal resident aliens that only the federal government has the authority to impose. Hines, 312 U.S. at 65-66.

The judge concluded her order with a detailed explanation of how the provisions she enjoined meet the standards for injunctive relief. This is set out in a clear and reasonable way.

Judge Bolton’s ruling may not be popular, especially in Arizona. That is part of the separation of powers. It is not a judge’s job to do the popular thing. That is why federal judges are not elected. The rule of law and the current will of the people may not be the same thing.  Judge Bolton did not rule in any activist way. She did not bend to the will of the Obama Administration.

If you wish to substantively disagree with my legal analysis, or make other substantive comments, feel free to do so.

Increasing Support for Child Sacrifice

If opinion polls are correct, more and more Americans are in favour of child sacrifice. No, I’m not making some sort of oblique reference to abortion. Some of you may think this is too bizarre, but it is true.

Rep. Duncan Hunter of California has publically called for the deportation of American citizens who are the children of illegal immigrants. In a Fox poll published by the conservative group ResistNet, 56.5% of 1500 repondents supported this idea. So am I just given to hyperbole and tenuous metaphor by calling this child sacrifice? I don’t think so, and here’s why:

Hunter and supporters of this idea are downplaying that citizens who happen to be the children of undocumented immigrants are, in fact and in law, just as much citizens as Duncan Hunter. This is their legal status in US and international law. They got their citizenship the same way he did, even if you consider them second-class citizens – admittedly a way of treating some people that has a long and glorious history.

Duncan Hunter thinks this has to be done for the greater good. He said, “you could look and say, ‘You’re a mean guy. That’s a mean thing to do. That’s not a humanitarian thing to do.’ We simply cannot afford what we’re doing right now. We just can’t afford it. California’s going under.” In other words, “it’s not nice and it’s not a civilised way to treat a human being, but we’ve got to do it anyway. California can’t afford for us not to jettison these citizens.”

Citizenship entitles someone to all civil rights. It is long established in the US (and in international law, but that’s a concept despised by many Americans) that everyone within the boundaries of the US for whatever reason has certain civil rights protection, but it will be easy enough to disregard that. However, depriving a citizen of their civil rights is more serious. To strip a large class of people of the citizenship they have always had – these are not children naturalised by the grace and favor of the US Government – and that they acquired in the same way as all other natural born citizens is a big step.

I am not suggesting that Hunter is not entitled to hold this point of view, but rather that it should be explictly stated. He considers some citizens to be less desirable than others, so those in the majority should exercise their democratic voice to deprive that citizenship. Perhaps it is worth other Americans considering what safeguards are in place to prevent another majority forming (based on however they want to form an association or declare an affinity of common interest) that finds them in the minority and decides to forceably remove them from the country of their citizenship? The new majority may even hold sway long enough and significantly enough to pass a Constitutional amendment to enforce it.

This is child sacrifice in more than just a metaphorical sense. Once these children are stripped of their citizenship, they not longer have a right to be in the country of their birth and they can then be deported. That is the stated ultimate objective. It’s just a matter of opening up one of the gates in the big wall, shoving them through and quickly locking it behind them. On the other side of that wall is a drug war that has claimed the lives of over 20,000 mostly innocent people in the last half-decade. In that environment, a lot of those children thrown over the wall will probably not survive for long. But their deaths are necessary to keep Duncan Hunter’s California and the US from going under. It’s a price that has to be paid. Most Americans won’t think it a heavy price, because they didn’t want that class of citizen in this country anyway.

One of the things the US needs to do to stop the flow of immigrants is to make it a less attractive destination. If we can show the world that the US is a place where some citizens have more rights than others and that any undesireable group can lose their civil rights at the caprice of any given majority of sufficient size, maybe they will start to look elsewhere. A lot will still come because life on the margins is still outweighed by the economic opportunity, but the new apartheid will discourage a few.

Times are tough and everyone has to make sacrifices. Every citizen needs to be willing to make sacrifices for the common good. You know, ask not what your country can do for you, but what you can do for your country. That includes all these Latino kids. Their country needs them to give up their citizenship, their opportunities for the future, and in some cases their lives, so that everyone else can continue to enjoy the American way of life.

I would say that Hunter and his supporters do need to act fast. At this time a significant number of these citizens are below the age of majority. They are children subject to the whims of the enfranchised adults. If they are allowed to grow up, they will have a say in their own affairs and enjoy the full rights to exert their citizenship (that they admittedly acquired they same way Hunter and most Americans did) and try to oppose being thrown out of their country. It is much easier to deprive a child of their civil rights than someone who can speak up for themselves.

Some of these undesirable citizens are already adults. If legislation enabling certain people to be stripped of their citizenship and deported is proposed, there will not doubt be protest rallies. If they were good citizens they would be doing this willingly, not engaging in some sort of protest. If they are participating in rallies against giving up their citizenship, it just shows how unAmerican they are, doesn’t it?

Why the Arizona Law Will Not Affect the Drug Wars

I will get back to the fine print of the Arizona law (I know you just can’t wait) but I have been informed by a friend living on the Mexican border that I can’t make any argument at all about illegal immigrants without including the drug cartel wars. I alluded to it in the previous post, but I will be more explicit about it here.

The drug war is one of the reasons the Arizona law is wrong. There I’ve said it. Those of you who don’t want to hear why (and you know who you are) can change the channel now. For those who have asked for an explanation and those who want one, stay tuned because here we go.

There is nothing in SB1070 that will do anything to stop the violence on either side of the border. At best, a drug runner or cartel operative might get pulled over for a broken tail light or coasting through a stop sign and get put through the Arizona system. If he has a gun or drugs with him, ICE might even deport him. For the drug cartels this is merely a cost of doing business and not a very expensive one. SB1070 is not going to build that much dreamed of impenetrable wall along the 1969-mile length of the border. It will not even build one across the 350-mile length between Arizona and Mexico.

In terms of stopping traffic between Arizona and Sonora, SB1070 will do nothing. The border is still the jurisdiction of the federal government. All Arizona is doing is trying to make them not want to come to Arizona. The drug traffickers and people traffickers don’t care whether Arizona allows illegal immigrants to get welfare benefits. The kind of work they are doing is not going to be affected by the new law making it explicitly illegal for an illegal to work in Arizona. SP1070 is not going to increase their visibility to Arizona law enforcement officials, who are supposedly going to be doing what they claim the federal government and federal law enforcement authories won’t do. The people traffickers are not going to lose any business, because the people they are trafficking are not trying to get to Arizona. They are trying to get to the United States.

This now leads to the moral issue. Why are all these people trying to get to the United States? Is it just so they can kill American ranchers? If you honestly believe that, then I have some ranch property on the Moon I’d like to sell to you. If you lived in a place where more than 20,000 murders have taken place since 2006 and both the police and army are incapable of even reducing the rate, not to mention come close to actually stopping it, would you not be trying to get away at all costs? Would you not be seeking refuge in a country where the white people don’t like you, and the authorities might harrass you, but you have a much bigger chance of staying alive?

The drug wars on the border – which are much, much worse  – astronomically worse – on the south side than on the north side – are a reason that we should be letting people into the US.

If I may analogise to all of my friends who have NRA bumper stickers, if immigration is outlawed, only outlaws will immigrate. In other words, just in case I haven’t made it clear enough, people who are coming into the US with criminal intent are not going to be stopped by laws saying they can’t be in the US (or Arizona). Those with crminal intent are not going to stop at border check points and hand over their weapons, drugs or people.

There is a much published and circulated explanation by Arizona State Senator Sylvia Allen regarding why she voted for SB1070. She was heavily motivated by all of the violence within 60 to 80 miles of the border, including the rancher who “In the last two years he has found 17 dead bodies and two Koran bibles.” (I have no idea what a Koran bible is, or why one would find it in the Arizona desert – perhaps it is an al-Qaeda conspiracy terrorise the border region.) She is very clear about how the federals cannot/will not control the border, even though she is certain “We have the technology and we have the ability to stop this invasion.” She never explains what this technology is or how SB1070 will now allow Arizona (which she admits is not only out of money but in the red) to use this technology.  If anyone will read Sen. Allen’s open letter carefully, they will see that it is all fluff and no substance. Please, someone actually show me the substance.

Sen. Allen and others bend over backward to assure everyone that SB1070 only allows Arizona law enforcement officers to stop someone due to reasonable suspicion of committing a crime to see if they are an illegal. If they are stopping someone on suspicion of murder, human trafficking, drug trafficking or related crimes, whether or not that person is an illegal is the least of their worries! And whether Arizona officers are investigating these crimes should have nothing to do with whether they were perpetrated by illegals. Violent crime is violent crime – something they are supposed to be addressing anyway. SB1070 does not give them any additional powers in the actual interdiction of crime.

That’s the problem with everything I’ve read by the pro-SB1070 people. It is all sword-rattling rhetoric. When it comes down to it, people like SB1070 because it appears to be doing something. Form over substance. Smoke and mirrors. No one can tell me anything about it other than, “Well, at least they are trying.” So what? What difference does that actually make, beyond creating an ephemeral feel-good factor of camaraderie amongst like-minded individuals? At the same time, it is not conservatively politically correct (yes we have a PC problem as well) to suggest that we address the problems that can be addressed and face up to the real moral questions.

Again, I challenge any reader – and yes, my stats show that there are some of you out there – to show me how SB1070 is actually going to deal with the issues of border violence, drug trafficking, and all of the nerfarious things that are happening.

The Fine Print

There are so many things that can be written (and mostly not read) about new Arizona law or about the issue of illegal immigration. As this resolution from the National Association of Evangelicals (followed up by this ad in Roll Call) shows, I can be encouraged that I am not the only conservative who will admit that something needs to be done other than shipping them across the border, Do Not Pass Go, and above all else Do Not Collect $200.

Before addressing the fine points of the Arizona legislation, let’s look at the big picture. A good friend of mine is an immigration lawyer and for those who vet  sources by ideology or theology, he is conservative both politically and theologically. In a recent email (and with permission to reprint) he said:

Regarding the ~12 million people here illegally now.  I am pretty brutally pragmatic about this.  I move right beyond the moral issues about whether we should grant amnesty to the practical conclusion that we have no choice.  We simply cannot deport all these people.  We cannot just send ICE buses into neighborhoods, round up 12 million people (the population of a pretty good-sized state) and drive them to the border.  Under the Due Process Clause, every person allegedly in the US illegally gets a hearing before an immigration judge in immigration court before they are deported.  You will need to confirm the numbers, but I think our entire immigration court system can process about 300,000 to 350,000 people a year.  At that rate, it would take about 35 or 40 years to deport the 12 million people here now, assuming no more came in.

So the Arizona legislation won’t work. It will work even less if other states take up the same legislation. The essence of the Arizona bill is nothing more than NIMBY- Not In My Back Yard. (From section 1: The legislature declares that the intent of this act is to make attrition through enforcement the public policy of all state and local government agencies in Arizona.) But if the federal court system can’t handle the numbers (that’s after all the added work for the Arizona court system) they have no choice but to release everyone that Arizona rounds up. As many of these people who are able will probably move out of Arizona to avoid having to go through that again, so Arizona’s loss will be the gain of another state. So if you are in a state other than Arizona, the Grand Canyon State wants her problems to be yours.

So how is this attrition of illegals in Arizona supposed to be accomplished? Here’s the rest of section 1: The provisions of  this act are intended to work together to discourage and deter the unlawful entry and presence of aliens and economic activity by persons unlawfully present in the United States. More specifically in section 5: IT IS UNLAWFUL FOR A PERSON WHO IS UNLAWFULLY PRESENT IN THE UNITED STATES AND WHO IS AN UNAUTHORIZED ALIEN TO KNOWINGLY APPLY FOR WORK, SOLICIT WORK IN A PUBLIC PLACE OR PERFORM WORK AS AN EMPLOYEE OR INDEPENDENT CONTRACTOR IN THIS STATE. (I’m not shouting – it’s all caps in the original.)

Simple enough. We don’t let them work. If they have no money, they’ll have to go on welfare. Oh, except that Arizona passed HB 2008 last year [codified as ARS §§1-501(E) and =502(E)]  that not only denied benefits to illegals, but makes it a crime punishable by four months in prison for an government worker who does not report to immigration authorities any illegal immigrant who requests benefits even if they are requesting them for a citizen child entitled to them, even if they discover the information in casual conversation. According to the the opinion of the Arizona Attorney General, this includes emergency health care, emergency disaster relief, and immunization.

All the better, you say. If ICE won’t do the job, Arizona will. The message: no work, no welfare or healthcare (even for citizen children of illegals), no problem. You have to leave Arizona or starve. Or get diseases from which everyone else gets immunized. A little polio or tuberculosis or rubella will teach you. Get back over the border. Duck if you hear any gunfire. But that’s where you were born and that’s what you deserve. You might not be one of the next 20,000 killed.  And if you just won’t leave this wonderful country that loves legal immigrants who are from eligible countries of origin and have paid lots of money and suffered through years of red tape, at least go to California or New Mexico or Indiana or Texas (Hoosiers and Texans will be glad that you probably won’t get that far).

I’ve only touched on a tiny part of the new Arizona law. Every section, sub-section and clause deserves to be examined closely. For example, section 3 makes it a crime in be anywhere in Arizona without proper federal immigration status, subject to (in addition to the provision of federal law) six months in an Arizona jail and a $2500 fine plus:

C. A PERSON WHO IS SENTENCED PURSUANT TO THIS SECTION IS NOT ELIGIBLE FOR SUSPENSION OR COMMUTATION OF SENTENCE OR RELEASE ON ANY BASIS UNTIL THE SENTENCE IMPOSED IS SERVED.
D. IN ADDITION TO ANY OTHER PENALTY PRESCRIBED BY LAW, THE COURT SHALL ORDER THE PERSON TO PAY JAIL COSTS AND AN ADDITIONAL ASSESSMENT IN THE FOLLOWING AMOUNTS:
1. AT LEAST FIVE HUNDRED DOLLARS FOR A FIRST VIOLATION.
2. TWICE THE AMOUNT SPECIFIED IN PARAGRAPH 1 OF THIS SUBSECTION IF THE PERSON WAS PREVIOUSLY SUBJECT TO AN ASSESSMENT PURSUANT TO THIS SUBSECTION.

That’s right, unlike a citizen, an illegal does not get equal protection under the law (yeah, yeah, big constitutional problem here that those pesky liberals are gonna go and bring up) plus (and remember, this is someone not allowed to make any money) they shall be ordered to pay jail costs plus $500, unless the ICE has previously let them go in which case it is an additional $1000. And if it is second offense or subsequent offense of being in Arizona, it becomes a class 4 felony, punishable by 3 years in prison and a fine of up to $150,000 (no, that’s not a typo), plus jail costs, plus the $1000.

And remember, 3 years means 3 years. No suspended time, no good time, nothing that a citizen can expect. And let’s be honest. This will be at the cost to the Arizona taxpayer (even in a Joe Arpaio tent city with rancid bologna sandwiches and that constant 115F sunshine), because you can demand all those fines and costs but if someone not only doesn’t have the money but is also forbidden to earn the money, there’s not going to be any money.

Don’t forget that HB2008 and SB1070 are specifically designed to catch parents of children with legal or illegal status. Some one’s gonna have to take care of them. To change the lyrics of the traditional song just a bit, “Motherless children have hard time when their mother is Arizona prison for three years.”

I’ve only touched on a tiny bit of SB1070. There’s plenty more. Given my inability to shut up about this (despite the being explicitly asked to do so in one instance), I will probably go and dredge it up. If we just want people to obey the law, it can’t hurt to examine it closely, can it?

A Matter of Principles

I haven’t seen the rhetoric flying like this for a long time. The battle lines are drawn. Ideologues on either side will truck no dissent. If there is one thing of which we as conservatives can be sure, liberals are always wrong about everything. If there’s a liberal is favoring a particular policy, we don’t have to know anything about it. That tells us enough to know we’re agin’ it.

I keep writing about the matter of illegal immigrants, even though I get very little blog traffic or Facebook comments about it. My liberal friends have written me off years ago and my conservative friends have by and large shunned me. Sadly, that includes most of my conservative Christian friends. But for Christians is it an area where the ideological rubber meets the theological road.

More than anything, this issue has highlighted that when it comes to politics for a lot of conservative Christians, they are conservatives first. If it is possible to eisegete their square Christianity into the round conservative hole, all the better, but if not, it can be silently left outside.

I consider myself a conservative. I’ve always been on the right wing of the Republican Party. At one time I was very active on the right wing of the Republican Party. You don’t have to be a Christian to be a conservative. You do however, have to be a Christian to be a Christian.

Christians are not called to be politically conservative. Neither are they called to be politically liberal. They are called to be Christians. Where being salt and light, even in political participation, intersects with being politically conservative (in the very limited meaning that term has within the very specifically American context, which most Americans assume is the only context), that’s great.

Time and again I have read and I have been told that we should be compassionate individual Christians, but that when it comes to the State it is a whole different matter.  The State, just like any other God-ordained institution, is nothing more than a collection of individuals. As such, it has – we have – a responsibility to act righteously and compassionately without assuming roles not delegated to the state. Should we not as the Church be compassionate? Should we not as members of families in whatever capacity we find ourselves – father, mother, child, sibling, or collateral – be compassionate? Likewise, we have a responsibility to look to the Scriptures for guidance with regard to how we treat others as a body politic.

A lot of Christians seem to be concerned with the fact that illegal immigrants broke the law to get into the United States. Now most of these people would not have been involved in the civil disobedience of the Civil Rights Movement. I don’t mean that they were too young to have been involved, but rather as conservatives they would have seen the whole thing as a big liberal conspiracy. I wonder how many of these people were involved in Operation Rescue. After all, I’ve never heard of OR folks being labelled as liberals.  And how many are old enough to have homeschooled in the 1980s when it was illegal in many states? For many Christians, it was imperative – it was a matter of conviction – to educate their children at home. In some states it was illegal to have an unlicensed private Christian school, especially one that did not have state-certified teachers. Nonetheless, otherwise law-abiding citizens opened them. To a person, these folks were committed to the right wing of the Republican Party and self-identified as very conservative.

I have heard complaints that these illegal immigrants are getting welfare benefits. Most of these people complain that anyone is getting welfare benefits – that, in fact, there should be no state-funded welfare benefits. I can’t disagree with the last bit. There is no biblical mandate for the state to be engaged in the financial support of individuals. That’s good conservatism. However, if the state chooses to provide benefits, it cannot biblically discriminate between the citizen and the stranger. To do so is to violate the mandate of Leviticus 19 – a civil mandate to love your neighbor as yourself including the stranger among you.

But let’s look at Leviticus 19 more closely. While there is no provision for the State to collect and distribute welfare, there is a provision requiring individual property/business owners to provide welfare in the form of unharvested produce. In other words – or in modern, non-agrarian application – to provide work and remuneration. And for whom is this provision made?  The poor and the stranger. This idea of providing for the alien among you is so important that it appears three times in the Torah (Leviticus 19:10, 23:22 and Deuteronomy 24:21). Biblically speaking, non-citizens are not only entitled (I know, a liberal word, but hard to get around) to work-based welfare, they are one of the principal intended recipients.

And while we are at it, it is unbiblical to choose your neighbors, stranger or citizen. Neighbors are yours because they see you have a desirable society and settle among you. Once among you, they must follow the rules – not any more strictly or with any greater consequences than citizens – but there’s no biblical provision for discrimination.

And finally for those repulsed by the theonomic tone in setting out what is biblical and what isn’t – those who say forget the Old Testament and ask WWJD – there is no evidence that the conservative views incompatible with the Torah are somehow more compatible with the New Covenant.

Theologically conservative Christians must begin to discerne where poltical conservatism merges and diverges. The current hot button issue of illegal immigration provides such an opportunity. It is then a matter of choosing which principles take priority.