Tom Ascol has a great post on the complications around Christianity and illegal immigration. Tom pastors in south Florida, and his church membership is made up of people from more than 15 countries. He therefore has a unique perspective on this hotly debated issue now before Congress. He poses some excellent questions that as Christians we do need to consider and deal with:
What do you say to a woman who has been converted through the ministry of the church who wants to be baptized and join the church, but is living with a man who is not legally her husband? He was her husband for 15 years in their native South American country. But because it was easier for them to get visas into the USA as unmarried people, they divorced, came over here, discovered that “nobody in America takes marriage seriously,” and so decided simply to live together. Then the Lord saved her, but not her (ex)husband. Now he is unwilling to marry her legally.
What do you say to a young man who has come to Christ through the church’s outreach and wants to be baptized and join but whose visa has expired? He wants to become legal but every avenue he has pursued has resulted in a dead end. Talk of various types of amnesty has kept him hopeful, but he is here illegally.
What about the devoted Christian family that were working through what they were told was a legal channel to pursue permanent residency only to discover that they were scammed and are now left with no passport, visa, or any other form of legal identification. When we contacted legal authorities we were simply told that they were “small fish” and that, though it is unlikely, there is a slight possibility that in 10 years or so their case might come to light and receive some attention.
Living in Southwest Florida has sensitized me to the severe mistreatment that many immigrants experience both officially and unofficially. It is common to read in the local paper about immigrants who were robbed and/or beaten but who refused to call police out of fear of what might happen to them. Unscrupulous people take advantage of their fear and misunderstanding of the immigration laws and bilk them out of large sums of money.