Immigration Reform Part 2: Essential Elements for Moral, Comprehensive Reform

This is the second of two pieces I’ve written about immigration reform policy. The fist piece, which I posted on March 19, took a critical look at a proposal for immigration reform outlined by Charles Schumer and Lindsay Graham. This piece gives my ideas for what should be included in a moral comprehensive immigration reform.

On Friday, March 19, even as a year’s worth of debates around healthcare were coming to a close, two senators, Charles Schumer (D-NY) and Lindsay Graham (R-SC) wrote a piece for The Washington Post in which they outlined a bi-partisan proposal for comprehensive immigration reform.

It was a mixed bag. I gave an analysis of their proposal in an earlier post, and, for the most part, I was critical of what the two senators set forth as a first step in the long journey toward comprehensive immigration reform. Such criticism is not particularly constructive, however, unless it is coupled with alternate ideas and suggestions for what actually will work; to that end I have identified five elements that I feel must be included in any morally responsible immigration reform bill.

These five elements come from the introduction to my forthcoming book Neighbor: Christian Encounters with “Illegal” Immigration. (The book, by the way, will not be released until the middle of August, but, thanks to the foresight and quick work of the folks at Westminster John Knox Press, you can pre-order a copy at Amazon.com.) My book primarily is about people and not policy, but it seemed fair, at the beginning of the book, to say which elements I believe should be a part of immigration reform legislation. I came up with these elements after spending a lot of time studying the issues, visiting the U.S./Mexico border, and interviewing dozens people from many different walks of life. Here, then, are the elements I believe must be part of moral, comprehensive, immigration reform:
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Book Review: “The Immigration Crisis: Immigrants, Aliens, and the Bible” by James K. Hoffmeier

This review also ran on UPI’s Religion and Spirituality Forum

The Book
I first heard about James K. Hoffmeier’s book The Immigration Crisis: Immigrants, Aliens and the Bible when a friend of mine, who knows my interest in issues surrounding immigration, emailed a brief review of the book that appeared in an April 30th edition of Publishers Weekly. I knew I had to read to book after the final sentences of the review made me laugh:

The book offers little in the way of sociological, political or economic insight into the circumstances surrounding modern-day illegal immigration, beyond advocating for a law-and-order approach. Missing from this analysis is an understanding of the Bible as a prophetic document more concerned with larger issues of justice. Still, Christians looking for a biblical justification for strict federal enforcement of immigration laws may find much to like.

First, let me say what I like about The Immigration Crisis. It’s short, easy to read, and intelligently written. While I remain steadfastly unconvinced by his arguments, Hoffmeier is a first-rate biblical scholar who has articulated a cogent challenge to the assumption that the God revealed in Jewish and Christian scriptures has a special place in the Divine Heart for immigrants, even if they cross international borders without proper documentation. Continue reading