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In my book, Winning the Culture War, I apply Judeo-Christian principles to political and cultural decisions. For example, what does the Bible say about immigrants? The Old Testament is very clear about treating legal immigrants fairly and equally, but illegal immigrants appear to have fewer rights, but are not without some rights (Hoffmeier, 2010 http://www.crossway.org/blog/2010/06/immigrants-legal-illegal-and-the-old-testament-law/). Both the Old and New Testaments clearly stress the importance of taking care of the poor, the widows and the orphans. Therefore, there is some support by Judeo-Christian principles for illegal immigrants who come to this country to escape poverty. On the other hand, Judeo-Christian principles also give secular governments authority in order to provide order and justice in a nation. The Bible says that all authority comes from God (Romans 13:1). If the government allows people to ignore authority and the law, it results in lawlessness and chaos.
So what is a president to do? President Obama is now joining the long line of presidents trying to tackle immigration reform. Will he succeed? How can he satisfy both principles: compassion toward illegal immigrants and protection and justice for American citizens and states?
Illegal immigration involves two aspects, securing the borders and dealing with around 11 million illegal immigrants living and working in the country. The idea of securing the borders pleases conservatives, and the idea of providing amnesty pleases liberals. However, when you try to combine them in one bill, you alienate both groups, so it is unlikely that such a bill will become a law.
In the meantime, the upheaval in Mexico, the violence along the border, the stream of immigrants and possibly terrorists crossing the border, and kidnappings in Arizona are disrupting the rule of law. The Federal government has the responsibility to apply the rule of law and secure the borders. Ignoring its responsibility is increasing the feeling of fear and chaos in those states experiencing a threat of not just illegal immigrants but of criminals invading their towns and homes. This chaos could spill over into the local community, causing some of the less stable members to act out violently against illegal immigrants or the government. The government would be responsible for such reaction, just as the government’s failure to act caused Shay’s rebellion in 1786-1787.
The President cannot ignore an immediate need because he wants to solve a long-existing problem. There is time to solve the illegal immigrant problem that has existed for years, but time is running out to solve the chaos and danger on the border. The federal government ignores the states’ cry for help at its own peril.