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Children at the Border

July 23, 2014

I’ve been following the “crisis at the border” where thousands of children from Central America have been coming to the U.S.  Tensions are running high as to how we should respond to this. As with all political/social issues, there is a great deal of “dueling stories” going on.  If you listen to conservatives there is an “invasion” of troubled teens who are most likely gang members and they are more than willing to share individual stories to prove it. 

Meanwhile progressives talk about the sad little children who are fleeing violence and poverty.  We hear stories, often accompanied by heart-rending pictures, of dejected 4 and 5 year-olds sitting alone in an ICE/FEMA detention center.  How could any caring person send these poor children back to near-certain death? 

No doubt you can find stories to prove either view.  No doubt if this is treated as a binary either/or choice whichever way we go there will be some horrific results.  Send them all back and some, perhaps many, will die.  Keep them all here and, some, perhaps many, will commit crimes.  I’ve never understood how anyone, left or right, can feel that simple binary choices make any sense, life is just too messy.

But what should Christians, particularly evangelicals, believe?  If I had to guess I’d say that the majority evangelical opinion is anti-immigration.  Excuse me, anti-illegal immigration.  Many Christian leaders are sure they know God’s point of view on this.  Mike Huckabee for example says this:

 “I don’t believe God believes in open borders. Around His city, there are walls and gates. In John 10:1, Jesus said, Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that enters not by the door into the sheepfold, but climbs up some other way, the same is a thief and a robber. God established borders with Abraham in Genesis 13:14. Even Heaven has pearly gates!”

I suppose that last one is to stop illegal immigration into heaven.  There is nothing like a good case of proof-texting is there?  In any event, now that he knows God’s point of view he sees the obvious answer.

“The Christian thing to do would be to send them back to their families!”

Once he has that figured out he takes a few gratuitous shots at the government (“If government were not forcibly taking so much in taxes, then there would be more private money to spend on aiding the poor and on other charities.” ) and mothers (“Quit having kids if you can’t care for them.  I say that to mothers over here also.”) before concluding by advocating for good Christian indifference.  “We can’t save the world…send the children back across the border and let Mexico and their home countries decide what to do and how to care for them.”

Unlike Mike, or for that matter progressives arguing for an open-door policy, I have no easy answers.  I’ve been struck by one thing however.  Nobody has an exact count of the number of children who are entering, although I have heard the number 50,000 over the past year.  In any event I am supposed to believe in a “tidal wave of children pouring across the border” to quote Fox News.  Let’s assume for a minute that half of that number falls into the poor little children category, not the trouble teen category.   This would leave us 25,000.  While that number is significant it falls a tad short of a tsunami in a land of 318,000,000.  (By the time you read this it will probably be close to 319,000,000.)

Here is a companion statistic.  There is an average of 20,000 international adoptions by Americans every year.  If you search “international adoptions” you will find that even more Americans, particularly evangelical Christians, are trying desperately to adopt children from other countries.  I personally know of four Christian families who have adopted or are trying to.  For each of them the process takes years and has or will cost tens of thousands of dollars.  

Maybe we are looking at the problem wrong.  Maybe Christian families, supported by Christian churches, should truck down to the border and ask to adopt one of these children.  Yes, I know there are legal impediments and that both the children and the prospective adoptive parents need screening, etc.  This is not simple.

But why is nobody talking about this?  Heck, every day my local TV station has an adopt-a-puppy feature.  If our hearts go out to puppies, can’t they go out to children?  What if the situation needs less regulation and more compassion?  Why are so many of us willing to, even begging to, adopt internationally and yet opposed to them coming to our border?

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From → Christianity

One Comment
  1. Good questions. However, as you say with the initial problem, the answers aren’t that simple.

    One thing is certain, though: if the US govt or charitable organizations can’t find a means of distributing these children to safe US homes, they will fall victim to criminal organizations that will find places for them. In that case it really doesn’t matter which country they’re living in.

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