I was a stranger, and ye took me in

July 30, 2014 | 61 comments
By

UnknownOne of the books that we read over and over again with our small children was P.D. Eastman’s Flap Your Wings.

A boy finds an egg on a path. He looks around and sees no way for the egg to have gotten there. Then he spots an empty nest on a tree branch above the water. He places the egg in the nest and goes on.

The bird couple who inhabit the nest come home, startled to find an enormous egg within it.  Mrs. Bird is hesitant: “That’s not our egg…Look how big it is!” But Mr. Bird is adamant: “‘But it is an egg. It’s in our nest,’ said Mr. Bird. ‘If an egg is in your nest, you sit on it and keep it warm. It doesn’t matter whose egg it is.'” They take turns sitting on it to keep it warm, sometimes both of them sitting together because the egg is so large.

The egg finally hatches, and what comes out is the strangest looking bird Mrs. Bird has ever seen. She again expresses doubt that this is their baby,  but Mr. Bird remains committed: “He’s in our nest, so he must be ours… His mouth is open. That means he’s hungry. When your baby is hungry, you feed him.”

And so they do, a perpetual stream of worms and bugs of all kinds. It seems they can never feed this baby enough; “Junior” is always hungry and grows to an astonishing size.

Finally, when he’s far too big to remain in the nest, Mr. Bird decides that it’s time for Junior to learn to fly, and we get the titular “Flap your wings!” exhortation. Junior has grown enough in the safe care of the birds to be able to leave the nest for a more suitable home. And Mr. and Mrs. Bird are content to see him happy.

 

This story has been at the forefront of my mind as I’ve been listening to the news reports of the humanitarian crisis of undocumented children, be they refugees or illegal economic migrants, gathering at the United States’ southern border.

I’ve thought about the mother bird, hesitant to take on the responsibility of a child that she knows is obviously not hers, one who may indeed represent a threat to her home and life. So many people would like to be sympathetic to the plight of these children, but they choose to refuse to accept the obligation to care and instead allow expediency to overcome their better inclinations. Some go so far as to ignore the humanity of these children and, in their own minds, to divorce them from the innocence of childhood, so that they may be rejected as an unmitigated evil. (Protesters screaming “Go back to Mexico! Yeah! Get out of here!” and “Jesus wouldn’t break the law!” even made an appearance on about 3 minutes in on a clip on The Daily Show with Jon Stewart.)

The loud willful hatred so proudly displayed turns my stomach. I am sickened for my country.

And then I remember the father bird, and I have some hope. It doesn’t matter how they got here; they are here now, and we have an obligation to care for them.

Whenever there is a crisis elsewhere in the world, like a devastating earthquake or hurricane or a tsunami in some distant place, we see pictures of those children, torn from their families, and many of us feel a visceral desire to scoop of those children, to bring them into our homes and love and care for them. We can’t for many reasons, and so we instead send token donations of money or gathered goods to assuage the intentions of our better natures.

But these children, fleeing death and devastation, have come to us. Yes, caring for them will cost us time and money and effort, but not caring for them will cost us our compassion. We cannot harden our hearts to the least of these Christ’s brethren, these children, our little brothers and sisters, and still have a broken heart to offer up to our God, their Father.

They are in our nest, and so they must be ours. Let’s take care of them while they are here. At some point they will be able to flap their wings and find their own place in the world, but for now, we have to opportunity to gather them in, “even as a hen gathereth her chickens under her wings” (Matthew 23:37). It won’t be cheap or easy or convenient, but we must give up our vicious obsession with those dubious virtues if we are to develop the Christ-like attributes that will allow us to establish Zion, to have one heart and one mind, and no poor among us.

61 Responses to I was a stranger, and ye took me in

  1. theoldadam on July 30, 2014 at 8:05 am

    Trouble is, if you let them stay the stream of arrivals will increase.

    Every country needs a door. Every home has a door. Immigration must be regulated and controlled.

    It’s the loving thing to do.

  2. Sarah Familia on July 30, 2014 at 8:36 am

    Thank you for posting this, Rachel! My thoughts have been similar. I think of the terrible conditions that would induce a child to set out alone on a thousand mile journey with an uncertain ending, and I ache for the things they have already faced in their young lives.

    We cannot save everyone in the world, but we can take in the children on our doorstep while we work to ameliorate the conditions in their countries that are precipitating their exodus.

  3. Rachel Whipple on July 30, 2014 at 8:41 am

    Mr. Bird did not let Junior stay indefinitely. You can develop an exit strategy for the future and still do the humane and compassionate thing in the present situation. In the children’s book, the Birds are in no way responsible for the egg being in an unsafe place on the path, or for its placement in their nest. Because that is outside of their control, they don’t worry about it (a luxury of action over thought that we lack). What is in their control is their response to the egg. They could have shoved it out of the nest right away, rejected the responsibility of care. Or if not compassion, perhaps the old laws of hospitality were motivation Mr. Bird, requiring care for the xenos who has come into his house.

  4. Nathan Whilk on July 30, 2014 at 9:11 am

    And then there’s the non-fictional story of the cuckoo.

  5. Rachel Whipple on July 30, 2014 at 9:17 am

    Sure enough, Nathan. I have to say that this story bothered me for years when I was reading it regularly to small children. I naturally identify more with the skeptical mother bird. I find it interesting that the father bird is the one who is more compassionate. He acts out of principle rather than practicality as the mother bird is inclined to do. But she defers to his decision, so I guess that tracks with the proclamation on the family.

  6. Jean @ Howling Frog on July 30, 2014 at 9:43 am

    I agree that we should care for the kids who are here, but I can’t agree that we should adopt them permanently. As far as I know, for the most part their parents/families are alive, just poor. I can’t agree that we should take families to pieces because they are poor. It seems to me that the right thing to do is to return them to their families (having been fed and cared for), and try to figure out ways to help the families. Kathryn Joyce’s very interesting book “Child Catchers” has a lot of thought-provoking information on this kind of thing–she starts with the post-earthquake situation in Haiti, when everyone wanted to adopt a Haitian child. An awful lot of those children were not actually orphans; their families were simply very poor. Would it not be better to help the family stay together?

    Long-term, we have to do something about the border. It is not compassionate to tacitly encourage this through rumor and vague promises.

  7. LadyV on July 30, 2014 at 9:45 am

    I feel for these children, but coyotes are making thousands per child to smuggle them in and they are abusing them and often raping them during their journey. We need to care for them humanely while they are here, but we must stop the stream so that others aren’t victims of human trafficking or worse while lining the pockets of the evil-doers. The humane thing to do is send as many of them back as possible and secure the border in the mean time so parents don’t risk their childrens’ lives and mental and emotional health to send them over.

  8. Sarah on July 30, 2014 at 10:09 am

    The most pressing thing these children are fleeing is violence, not poverty. In the areas of Guatemala, Honduras, and El Salvador where they come from, drug militias are running rampant, murdering, raping, and forcing young children to sell drugs to avoid harm to themselves and their families. The children’s lives ARE at risk where they live. See this article from Forbes earlier this week for a good summary of the situation: http://www.forbes.com/sites/nathanielparishflannery/2014/07/28/monthly-mexico-media-roundup-central-america-migration-crisis/

  9. Cameron N. on July 30, 2014 at 10:27 am

    We should be like the residents of Jershon and accept needy immigrants.
    We should be like the Lamanites and stamp out the gadianton robbers (MS13)
    We should be like the freemen and fight against tyranny (media censorship and military being used as a pawn).

    I’m not quite sure where these all intersect, but the status quo of either side is unacceptable.

  10. DQ on July 30, 2014 at 11:42 am

    We’re no taking them in. We’re putting them in situations where they are being molested, raped, recruited for gangs, and hopefully some of them move on to a better life.

    I have friends who work in immigration in Texas. In one instance they had to handcuff all the boys hands to the seats of the bus because so many of them were putting their hands down the girls pants. What do you think was happening when they were out on their own in the desert?

    Encouraging this is wrong.

    Oh, and let’s make something clear. I don’t believe YOU are taking them in. Do not claim moral high ground or do not claim to be following the Savior when your support is also encouraging the worst of the worst while you sacrifice nothing.

    The passage does not say, “I was a stranger and you told others they should take me in.”

    That being said, I fully support the words of the Savior and the prophets and scripture, which would include more immigration and the dismantling of the entitlement state.

  11. Rachel Whipple on July 30, 2014 at 12:20 pm

    DQ wrote:

    Oh, and let’s make something clear. I don’t believe YOU are taking them in. Do not claim moral high ground or do not claim to be following the Savior when your support is also encouraging the worst of the worst while you sacrifice nothing.

    This is an excellent condemnation of the bleeding heart hypocrite, and I will assume for the sake of conversation that YOU refers to me. I am not, in fact, taking these children into my personal home, nor have they arrived at my personal doorstep. So you’re right. I am, however, a citizen of the United States, and the children are coming to my country, passing into my borders. As a member of the collection, I am taking them in. We live in a democracy where we all bear some responsibility for the leaders elected, the laws created and enacted, and pay for these rights and privileges with our tax dollars. It is a diluted kind of responsibility that makes the individual unable to single handedly rectify even immediate problems. By encouraging a humane response to the children who have arrived here, I may indeed unintentionally be “encouraging the worst of the worst;” the world is full of unintended consequences. That some of my taxes will go to border patrol and housing and hearing is so small a sacrifice to be nothing, especially in comparison to the sacrifices those children have made.

    But in our country, the court of public opinion is real and powerful. If the only narrative we hear is one of invasion, a dehumanized hoard of pests and threats, then we will have no impetus to goad our elected officials into compassionate action, nor will we, some of us, step up to do some tangible good on our own. Conversation alone will not solve this problem, but it will push us to look for solutions. That is better than nothing.

    And FWIW, I think there is likely no moral high ground on the internet, either for me or thou.

  12. wreddyornot on July 30, 2014 at 1:49 pm

    Thanks for this, Rachel. I appreciate you and others working through these problems for yourself and, hopefully, for us all more collectively as a religion, nation and a world. From reading your posting and responses, I think that we agree a lot. I researched very similar issues a few years ago, before the current crisis, and ended up writing a novel to work things out for myself. What I discovered in doing so is that each human situation is unique and that just as that egg in the book was big it could also have been small or a different color or shape or whatever. And just as we collectively have a responsibility to act so do we have responsibilities individually to do something to help.

  13. Laura on July 30, 2014 at 2:12 pm

    Well said, Rachel. I couldn’t agree more.

  14. Steve Smith on July 30, 2014 at 2:13 pm

    Brilliant post, Rachel. Let’s do think of the children.

    Now a sidenote. Some of the comments in reaction to this post are a testament to the brilliance of President Obama. By pushing the issue of immigration right before the midterm election, he indirectly baits the xenophobes, the majority of whom are conservative and vote Republican, to go on vicious xenophobic and classist anti-immigrant tirades. This puts Republican candidates in a tough spot, who feel pressure to either denounce the xenophobes, thereby incurring the wrath of the conservative media establishment and the tea party against them, or side with the xenophobes, thereby endearing the conservative base to them but potentially alienating their moderate supporters to the extent that they decide to either not show up at the polls at all or vote for their Democratic contender. For it is true that upon the mere mention of immigration reform, too many just can’t contain their xenophobic vitriol and end up indirectly killing a lot of Republican candidates’ chances.

  15. Sid on July 30, 2014 at 2:17 pm

    The situation in Central American countries is bad, but, it hasnt gotten worse in the recent future. It has been the same since the 1980’s. It is therefore quite unreasonable to claim that the illegal migrants showing up at US Borders now are “refugees fleeing violence”. Plain and simple, they have heard and believe that they can get in, and once in, there are a segment of the American population who will overlook their actions, quote Scripture, or quote anti-American rhetoric, and allow them to stay for ever in the USA. Why shouldnt they come? It is a win-win situation for them.

  16. Nathan Whilk on July 30, 2014 at 2:42 pm

    I’m wondering if there’s an amount of money I could donate out of my own pocket to the poor people of Latin America that would then give me the right to support the immigration laws I think wisest without being accused of being unChristian.

  17. wreddyornot on July 30, 2014 at 3:20 pm

    It isn’t the situation in Central American countries one must look to (although I’d be interested to know why I should think Sid is the expert on that); it’s the situation in an individual’s life. It’s not a matter of overlooking actions; it’s a matter of knowing individual backgrounds, conditions, and making informed judgments and taking care of him/her until you know he/she will be okay. The suggestion they come for the reasons Sid suggests seem to me naïve in the extreme; it suggests a lack of compassion for individual cases or for sacrificing to find out the necessary particulars.

  18. Bryan S. on July 30, 2014 at 4:06 pm

    Sid didn’t come up with the reasons, he responded to Sarah #8.

  19. Dan on July 30, 2014 at 4:07 pm

    Rachel, how wonderful for you to want to do so much good with other people’s money. A true liberal attitude.

  20. Tim on July 30, 2014 at 4:20 pm

    This is great, Rachel. Of course immigrations laws in the U.S. have problems that need to be fixed–but meanwhile we have thousands of children in our country who traveled thousands of miles in dangerous conditions to escape poverty and/or violence. Our current laws state that they have a right to a hearing in order to determine whether they can stay or not. While they’re waiting for that hearing, we have a responsibility to love and care for them. We can claim we’re a Christian nation, but unless we follow the example of the Good Samaritan, we’re lying to ourselves.

  21. Mark B. on July 30, 2014 at 4:23 pm

    Evidently Dan doesn’t realize that the billions of dollars spent on guarding the border, building fences, imprisoning people, etc., etc., is not “other people’s money.” Whether that’s liberal or conservative, I’m not sure, but it is surely ignorant.

  22. DQ on July 30, 2014 at 4:29 pm

    Rachel,
    “They are in our nest, and so they must be ours. Let’s take care of them while they are here.”

    When you say that, it’s not clear what you mean. What you are saying is, “Let us borrow* money to contract someone else to house and feed them.”

    *because surely no one has suggested we ought to raise taxes to pay for it.

    I realize it might be pretty common to substitute the state or government (we the people) for “us”. But you’re invoking Christian charity. The pure love of Christ is not a government program. It’s an individual sacrifice in behalf of other out of love.

    He acted and encouraged action. I hope you and others can see that even though the intentions may be genuine that “we” can and should help those in need, we absolutely have to do it in the Lord’s own way. The prophets have taught us time and time again about the Lord’s own way, and it very rarely involves big government programs and bureaucracy, which is contributing to the problem and very likely seeking to exacerbate it for political gain. I say that, because thousands of people have been saying for a long time this is a serious problem and it’s only going to get worse as we neglect to work on the issue.

    Here the issue is getting worse and the very people who allowed the problem to grow are now suggesting the solution is to do the very things that are growing the problem in the first place.

    The BoM is very much pro immigration, and consequently the Lord is, and so am I. But what we are doing is really creating a lot of issues that your analysis is not considering. Which brings me back to my point.

    If you were involved in the problem and directly sacrificing to help people, you might start to think a little differently. The problem is a difficult one, but simply telling others to love their neighbors, with the implicit thought being that we just need to take care of everyone who crosses the border illegally is not actually helping.

    It’s not helping the people being detained in temporary hellholds, it’s not helping the people be willing to be assaulted and raped or molested for a chance at a better life, it’s not helping the people who die or are risking death to cross the border, and it’s not helping create policies to help this issue.

    It probably does help you and others feel like you’ve taken the right “all you need is love” stance, without having to do much though. Give me some concrete action to support that’s guided by the wisdom of doing thing in the Lord’s own way, and I’ll be behind you.

  23. Rachel Whipple on July 30, 2014 at 4:30 pm

    Thanks, Dan. I want to do good with my own money as well. :) And as a matter of pragmatism, it is often possible that with judicious use of community funds for things like preventative medicine and education and law enforcement, the entire community can benefit and save money through averted harms and expenses. I believe it is possible to be fiscally responsible and still be liberal in that loving giving sense.

  24. Rachel Whipple on July 30, 2014 at 5:00 pm

    Thanks for the response, DQ. I think that some situations are beyond the scope of the individual to address, and we must rely on institutions (of which we may be an active participant) to work on our behalf. These institutions may be churches, non-profit organizations or government agencies. By moving the solution to an institutional level, we may be able to invoke efficiencies of scale and existing structures to respond quickly and with less overall cost than a group of individuals would incur. But we also run into the inefficiencies of bureaucracies and potential for graft.

    I have worked and served with people who have crossed the border, legally and illegally, for the several years. It’s not a world changing effort: rather it is very local, getting to know and love the people in my community, mostly by helping children who come in and out of our local school, who need extra help and whose parents because of language barriers or time spent working are not able give them that help. It’s a small effort, practicing words one on one with these kids, small, but heartbreaking and necessary.

    As you indicated, it has made me think a little differently. The little boy in 1st grade who doesn’t know his alphabet, who moved in after the school year started, missed more days than he came, and moved out before the school year ended. He was so beautiful and eager to learn, he just hadn’t been given the chance. What could I do, but help him in the time we had together, be a kind and safe adult who showed love and encouragement? So much of his circumstances were out of my hands; I saw enough to break my heart and motivate me to spend more time volunteering.

    You are right that we need action, not just more platitudes. I don’t know what the right action, the right policy in this situation is. Would it be to try to help stabilize the countries from which these people are fleeing, thus removing some of the incentive to leave there to come here? I don’t know that our interfering has ever helped much in those situations, certainly not in the long term.

    But I do prefer blogged platitudes to screamed imprecations and ugly sentiments hurled by protesters. And I’d rather be conflicted and uncertain than apathetic or oblivious.

  25. Russell Arben Fox on July 30, 2014 at 5:15 pm

    “I’d rather be conflicted and uncertain than apathetic or oblivious.”

    True that. Thank you for being willing to wade in a say something that needed to be said, Rachel.

  26. Jax on July 30, 2014 at 6:00 pm

    But these children, fleeing death and devastation, have come to us

    Is there some devastation taking place that isn’t widely known? Is Mexico on fire? Central America?

    They didn’t come “fleeing” anything, they can seeking handouts.

  27. Cameron N. on July 30, 2014 at 6:19 pm

    Steve, those are a lot of nasty labels you give to people who are simply concerned about media barring, spreading disease, gang members and terrorists, and obeying the law. Then again, we need practice with nasty labels, it will only increase in the future.

  28. Rachel Whipple on July 30, 2014 at 6:29 pm

    Jax: The devastation of gang violence and high murder rates. See http://www.cnn.com/2014/04/10/world/un-world-murder-rates/.

  29. Jax on July 30, 2014 at 7:21 pm

    Rachel… does that explain why they leave their country? Family? Why parents send children alone to a foreign land?

    The devastation taking place at the hands of ISIS is a good reason to flee your land (especially if you are Christian). Fleeing Crimea ahead of Russian troops is a good reason if you anticipate a war breaking out. Fleeing Gaza is a good idea when Isreal drops leaflets advising you to go. If you have less than a 1 in 1000 chance of being murdered then you might have good reason to leave your high crime neighborhood, not your entire country and family.

    But they decide that they want to “flee” away from that… fine, but not one of those countries on the list even borders the US, they could stop in Mexico and be away from the violence and threats… Why come here?

    That’s right, the freebies!

  30. wreddyornot on July 30, 2014 at 9:05 pm

    Nice straw man arguments, Jax. Deal with individuals individually with compassion. We know why coming here is a preference for many. How did you end up where you are?

  31. Jax on July 30, 2014 at 9:28 pm

    wreddyornot,

    I responded directly to the actual arguement that Rachel made. It wasn’t a straw-man, but an actual arguement made by someone, with the proof documented above.

    Unless you mean to say that it is a “straw man” to say that Honduras, Venezuela, Belize and El Salvador don’t border the US. If that is your point then buy a world atlas.

    We [k]now why coming here is a preference for many.

    Yeah, the freebies!

  32. Rachel Whipple on July 30, 2014 at 9:53 pm

    A more generous characterization would be “opportunity” rather than “freebies.” We are proud to think that ours is the land of opportunity, and people all over the world have decided to see if it is indeed true. Those opportunities are not all “free;” in order to make something of them, incredible amounts of work and sacrifice are required. That these children are coming from countries that don’t border the U.S. has never been in dispute.

  33. wreddyornot on July 30, 2014 at 10:14 pm

    Jax, since I have argued for compassion, I won’t argue this: Which arguement would that be? Maybe it was an actual arguement, but I don’t know what it was or even what an arguement is. But instead, this argument: judge righteously or not at all. And consider answering my question. Did you and/or your progenitors get to where you are for the freebies? Did you and/or your progenitors not receive any help or assistance in getting to where you are? I apologize for the snark, but your approach seems like “loud willful hatred” to me, and I acknowledge that I’m judging *it* as such.

  34. r. oman on July 30, 2014 at 10:35 pm

    so many times fear wins, fear of the unknown which remains because we do not reach, fear of deprivation since we have never been deprived, and fear of truth which would set us free from fear.

    but fear is what is used to enslave and control us. we will have some catch-up coming.

  35. Jax on July 31, 2014 at 11:03 am

    wreddyornot,

    This isn’t a case where are for compassion and I’m not. I don’t dislike the compassion, and every person in need deserves our aid. I haven’t spoken against that at all, I think it is admirable. I simply am pointing out that they aren’t “fleeing” anything. They are coming to get the freebies, as well as the opportunities. The characterization of these people is poor.

    I also don’t know that many coming across are not helpless victims, as the tone of the OP seems to suggest by comparing them to a helpless egg. There are gang members, drug pushers, terrorists, etc. This isn’t a scenario where our first impulse should be to comfort and coddle. It should be to disinguish between good and bad, innocent and vile, helpless and dangerous. After that is done, then we should care for those that need it (food, shelter, medicine), and protect the rest of the country from the others (including protection from the unintended consequences, like spreading disease).

  36. Sid on July 31, 2014 at 12:51 pm

    I am an immigrant myself, but, I did everything, went through the entire process legally. Yes, legally. As such, I am not about to “embrace” all these folks from Central America who are sneaking across the border as illegal immigrants. No, I went though the process legally, I see not a single reasomn to support them in any way. All are here for freebies that are to be had from the US Govt, and from various groups, thanks to the generosity of my fellow citizens. I dont think enabling illegals under the guise to Christian compassion is going to help the situation any. And as it is, Steve Smith in an earlier comment has gone and smeared all who oppose illegals coming to this country illegally.

  37. wreddyornot on July 31, 2014 at 1:34 pm

    The post is talking about kids, ” the humanitarian crisis of undocumented children.” I’m saying, like the posting does, that compassion requires building a nest and taking time and making sacrifice to know your egg (each of these individual eggs) before you make harsh judgments that’ll harm them and thereby you. And let me confess, harsh judgments might come, just like harsh judgments come to any intractable human being. Not all legal immigrants (which, by the way, I laud you for that) judge all undocumented immigrants without building a nest and taking the time and making the sacrifice to know the egg first. I don’t know the circumstances of your situation, Sid, but does it justify cutting off every conceivable situation from the harsh conclusion that “…all are here for freebies…”? If an intruder in my home has a gun out and has started shooting family members and some of the kids flee, their exit doesn’t mean they were leaving for freebies. And not stopping next door for help isn’t quite the same as going to the hospital or police station or even to a known friend.

  38. Dan on July 31, 2014 at 3:24 pm

    No one will object to you forming a charity organization and soliciting contributions to perform these humanitarian activities. The problem always arises when the humanitarians want to use tax dollars.

  39. Trevor on July 31, 2014 at 3:58 pm

    I’ve often wondered at the complications involved in taking spiritual/moral directives (“turn the other cheek”, “love thy neighbor”) and converting them into domestic/foreign policy.

    While I think several commenters here demonstrate enough mean-spiritedness towards these immigrants that they’re in violation of all kinds of clear spiritual commandments, regardless of political views, I do think there’s room to contemplate how best to convert those personal, individual mandates into government policy.

    Thanks for the post.

  40. Darlene on July 31, 2014 at 4:25 pm

    I think I’ve finally put my finger on why the bird story and the author’s viewpoint seem so unsettling: they are very much aligned with an abusive mentality.

    In the story, Mr. Bird is the abuser, “benevolently” imposing his will upon his mate, using the usual abusive tactics such as twisting things into their opposites (the egg/hatchling is NOT their baby, but insists on referring to it as “theirs”), disrespecting his partner by refusing to consider her logical protestations, and considering himself superior to her by being “adamant” and “remaining committed” to his own demand that she must labor for the cause he has established as right and just.

    And then there’s the author, who mirrors this abusive mentality by doing the exact same thing only this time the victims are American citizens and legal immigrants in general, topped off with a self-serving heap of political-objectives-disguised-as-guilt-inducing-Christian-sounding-imperatives to further establish her moral authority (as a hen gathereth HER chickens, not other people’s ostriches).

    I, for one, ain’t buying it.

    Dan, Jax and Sid: Right on.

  41. Trevor on July 31, 2014 at 4:26 pm

    Nothing like a post on immigration to draw out all the us-vs-them xenophobia…

  42. Dan on July 31, 2014 at 4:35 pm

    Interestingly, the Church encourages those in third-world countries (e.g. poor nations) to stay there and to learn to be self-sufficient. But over the last two years, I noticed that everyone wanted to come to the US where there were no poor and where the Government would give them everything. No one ever believed me when I told them about the poor Americans. They were always incredulous when I asked them what type of work they would do, or how would they pay for food and lodging. They all imagined that Americans just had everything without any effort.

  43. Jax on July 31, 2014 at 4:52 pm

    Interestingly I heard a news report that the Gov’t will pay $40per day per immigrant to anyone willing to foster them. That’s $1200/mo to house illegals. Where does that money come from, and why haven’t we had this program to help homeless citizens? And why on earth should I foster illegals when every state has hundreds/thousands of children who want/need adoption. How about we use those funds taken from citizens to help citizens? And everyone with money/assets suddenly available to help these kids/people, why weren’t they available to help those among you before?

  44. stephenchardy on July 31, 2014 at 6:34 pm

    When I saw that there was a post on immigration policy, I paled a bit. What is it about immigration policy that brings out such venom, especially among fellow Mormons. “Xenophobic”, “abuse mentality”, and just general snark.

    But then I find that I want to jump in. Let me try to do it without name-calling, although I want to respond to specific comments. Such as:

    “I simply am pointing out that they aren’t “fleeing” anything. They are coming to get the freebies…”

    I work in the medical profession in a large east-coast hospital. I see patients every day of uncertain immigration status. I know that they are immigrants because I ask them where they are from. Usually these conversations occur via an “interpreter” provided by the hospital.

    In general, I find that for the most part, these immigrants (based on hundreds, even thousands of dicussions) to be uplifting and respectful. Oddly enough, they appear to be people just like me and you. I never ask whether they are illegal, non-documented, green-card holding, or full American citizens. What I see among the many many Hispanic, South American, Central American population is humble, respectful people. They value their families, easily as much as we do as Mormons. In fact, they tend to include a larger definition of family, almost always living not just with mom/dad and children but with grandparents and uncles/aunts. They love their families and take care of each-other. They work hard, often in low-wage, hard-working careers. Thus I observe a serious commitment to work, labor, and earning.

    The un-caring, flippant and disrespectful tone here is discouraging one coming from anyone, but I find it especially discouraging coming from fellow-saints. Many of us have labored for years in these developing countries, making life-long friends, and (hopefully) learning respect for an alien culture and people.

    Thus, based on my many hundreds of interactions with South/Central American people, I find myself asking: “Why would so many abandon their children?” The main answer I would consider is that they must be very desperate and feel that their options are extremely limited.

    So, when one says that “they aren’t ‘fleeing’ anything,” I would ask that person to tell me what they base such a broad generalization on? Have they interviewed a large number of illegal aliens? Have they seen research to suggest this? Or is it just what makes sense to them? To assume that they aren’t fleeing anything is, to me, to assume a callous, heartless, unloving connection between a parent and a child. A willingness to let them go without a careful consideration of the alternatives.

    I find such a sweeping generalization to be stunning. Unless it is based on some sort of personal or professional experience.

  45. Chris Kimball on July 31, 2014 at 8:28 pm

    What’s wrong with the current law? Review the individual cases, accept some asylum applications because they are legitimate, and send the rest back. Right now there’s a surge and that causes problems, but mostly in overwhelming the established process which slows and delays decision making.

    They’re not all after “freebies”. They’re not all refugees seeking asylum from unacceptable violence. There are almost certainly some of each. Don’t you want to figure it out? Pay attention to the individual?

    According to the Judiciary Committee, approval rates by asylum officers were 28% in 2007, 46% in 2013, and 65% so far in fiscal 2014. Maybe you would draw the line in a different place. But it’s pretty clear (to me, anyway) that the true/fair/responsible/humane/accurate (you choose) number is neither 0% nor 100%.

  46. Jax on July 31, 2014 at 8:56 pm

    If an intruder in my home has a gun out and has started shooting family members and some of the kids flee, their exit doesn’t mean they were leaving for freebies. And not stopping next door for help isn’t quite the same as going to the hospital or police station or even to a known friend.

    A hospital or police station would be the nearest place to get help. If instead you skipped them, and instead went to the rich side of town and knocked on the door of the biggest house, then what are you? Because that is what is going on… They’ve passed countless police stations and hospitals so they could get to were all the biggest houses are…

  47. Old Man on July 31, 2014 at 11:51 pm

    It seems that more people want to “love their neighbor,” and are willing to extend their “neighborhood” to foreign nations and illegal immigrants, yet too often are willing to overlook their needy neighbors in their own communities. Is it because we see the personal issues and problems of our actual neighbors up lose, but we can keep immigrants at a distance?

  48. Brian Larsen on August 1, 2014 at 7:38 am

    Jax, what do you know about police in corrupt countries? Please share a personal experience. As per my new procedure regarding your comments: this is my first and last exchange with you, As I think should be with everyone in regards to your comments. Have you considering sharing your views on your own blog instead of here?

  49. Rachel Whipple on August 1, 2014 at 9:16 am

    Trevor wrote: I’ve often wondered at the complications involved in taking spiritual/moral directives (“turn the other cheek”, “love thy neighbor”) and converting them into domestic/foreign policy.

    I think this is a huge problem. And it’s not just translating principles into policy; it’s also how we can live those principles in our day to day interactions. Many of them are not practical and lead to unintended negative consequences. My local police in Provo have bemoaned the Mormons who literally follow King Benjamin’s instruction to never let the beggar offer his petition to you in vain, and thus encourage panhandlers when the better solution would be to support shelters, food pantries, and social service organizations.

    Darlene has said that Mr. Bird and myself are “aligned with an abusive mentality,” and I’d like to address that. I sympathize strongly with Darlene’s discomfort over the relationship between the Birds. Her characterization as Mr. Bird as an “abuser” is certainly accurate from a certain point of view; he can just as easily be characterized as a “father knows best” type of figure from the 50s or a righteous patriarch presiding in the home. There may be overlap how those categories are perceived.

    It drives me crazy that the entire time, Mrs. Bird is right: that is not their egg, it is in fact (spoiler alert!) not even a bird but an alligator. She is practical and he is principled. Why should his principles override her practicality? Why can’t he listen to her? There is no equal partnership here.

    But somehow, Mr. Bird’s insane adherence to the principles of hospitality and compassion lead to a salvation. I think of other men who impose their beliefs on their wives, dictating the course of the family (see Abraham), and I am horribly bothered by it. It doesn’t seem right. I dislike the gendered nature of the discourse, as well as the impracticality of it. And yet, somehow, the he in these stories is more right that I would be if I followed my inclination for a practical course of action. Inspired, where I would lean of the arm of my own flesh or act selfishly.

    To take Darlene’s criticism back to Trevor’s comment: My post moved this story from a relationship between spouses to the relationship between individuals and their government. As I understand it, that I would want my government and Darlene’s to act compassionately is abusive to people who don’t want to pay taxes to support a compassionate response, or to even acknowledge an obligation to children within our borders. As for my post perpetuating an abusive mentality, it is abuse unintentionally inflicted and easily avoided.

  50. Jax on August 1, 2014 at 9:28 am

    Brian,

    Your asking for a personal experience that relates to an analogy/parable/hypothetical/comparison? Really? WIll you not allow me to talk about the parable of the 10 virgins unless I’ve been to a jewish wedding feast?

    And why me? wreddyornot mentioned the police station/hospital analogy, why not ask him if he has enough experience with police in corrupt countries to use that story?

    But since you asked, I served my mission in rural Argentina. Got robbed 17 times in two weeks because we had a “zero resistance” policy. If they demanded something from us we had to give it up. Word got out. Police did nothing because we weren’t local. Didn’t care when we were shot at twice either. But that doesn’t affect the issue of the border at all does it? So can we at least try to keep to the topic of the OP?

  51. wreddyornot on August 1, 2014 at 10:55 am

    Jax, thanks for sharing your mission experience and essentially making the point of the posting.

    You and the administration of your mission, adults and the admins, likely very capable and experienced men (all men, huh, Darlene?), submitted to robbery and to shootings as a [mission?] policy and the police in Argentina *did nothing*. So you, your mission administrators and president, and I am guessing the other foreign missionaries served what? A measly couple of years and then you all went home. But some of the kids born and being raised there possibly (I’d think it more likely than not) faced even greater corruption than you ever did and faced a whole lifetime of it and even the possibility of being sucked into it if they or their families didn’t do anything.

    Yes, the people, the adults who are citizens, of Argentina (all the countries the kids are coming from) need to stand up and repent and change and reform, just as we in the U.S. do. No doubt. No argument. But we have to deal with single eggs one at a time and we need the compassion to care for each egg, assess who it is, what its needs are and whether it is safe to return it.

    Relative to my experience, I wrote a novel a few years back before the current kid crisis and I did considerable research and study on immigration back then. I did not have the personal experience you did in Argentina, for my mission was in Germany some 45 years ago. I do have three adopted children, two of whom were given up by their foreign parents and put in orphanages, and one of those is severely handicapped. But sincerely read what others with experience above have said and consider where your heart should be. That’s all.

  52. Jax on August 1, 2014 at 6:41 pm

    Again, wreddyornot, I have no problem with the compassion/charity taking place. I think I was pretty clear about that (post 35).

  53. Sonny on August 2, 2014 at 1:50 am

    I just want to say that reading some of these comments that come off as lacking even a modicum of compassion to what these kids have gone through sickens me.

    And DQ (#10), I don’t believe the story your friends in Texas immigration told you for a second, at least not as you describe it (or as he described it to you). I have worked with a law enforcement agency for the past 15 years and I know how tall the tales can get, especially when it fits a certain agenda. So unless your friends witness personally witnessed “all the boys” being handcuffed in the bus because the boys suddenly lost all control and were “putting their hands down the girls’ pants”, I would advise you to not take any stock in the story. I am not saying your friends were lying, just that they likely were caught up in the passing along stories that were never vetted out, kinda like the crap that gets passed around on social media.

  54. DQ on August 2, 2014 at 3:02 am

    Known the guy for 15 years who told it to me. It was in a transfer because their facility was too crowded if I remember right. I said they handcuffed them all because so many of them were assaulting the girls – not all of them. But you’ve offered nothing to refute the story other than calling it a tall tale. We hear a lot in the media about many similar sexual assault issues so unless you can point me to something suggesting otherwise I have no reason to take your word for it when you seem ideologically predisposed to a certain outcome and like so many aren’t demonstrating a good sense of judgement in what’s best other than thinking we can just roll over and help people until they become upstanding citizens.

    Unfortunately, real charity doesn’t come that easily, and all you have to consider is the life and death of the savior and the impact it has in the minds and actions of so few today. The greatest,sacrifice of all time in the most heart wrenching of circumstances is esteemed for naught by the very millions who are recipients of its help. So with that keen lesson in mind, if you can’t learn from that, spends thousands of your own money, much of your time and social capital helping others in a variety of ways (been there, still do it) and see how it works. I’ve come to the same conclusion the prophets have already revealed. Charity among our fellow man must be done in the lords way. I’m not jaded. I’ve just realized for all our good intentions, no one can do it better than The Lord, and we see how humanity regards that effort in its day to day lives. So the way from the very beginning needs to connect people back to the gospel as the foundation of everything you’re doing.

    You can’t have the sustainable fruits of the gospel in the lives of those you wish to help by simply sharing your own (or others!) fruit and expect it to last. If we want to help those in need we have to help them spiritually and temporally to have it be lasting and bring effectual change. Again, I realize this is ideologically opposed in some viewpoints. But that’s why it’s no surprise the powers that be keep trying and keep failing miserably.

    Before someone considers me a xenophobe, I on the other hand want as many hard working immigrants as possible to come to this nation and make it greater. But the policies in place, the out right circumvention of the law by the would be immigrant up to the level of the President, and the foolhardy faux charitable way some are approaching the issue is leading to objectively worse outcomes that are compounded every day. And the prescription always seems to be more of the same, only more of it and extra costly.

  55. Aaron on August 2, 2014 at 12:58 pm

    Considering the meddling we have done in Central American countries to support and embolden corrupt dictators who have no interest in democracy we have all the more reason to be compassionate with these children.

  56. jks on August 2, 2014 at 10:58 pm

    The creepiness of the husband/wife dynamic is very distracting. Years ago it probably would not have bothered me. But now that I have been married over 20 years and I have friends in various marriages, it gives a sick feeling to know how powerless some women (or men) are in their lives because their spouse refuses to acknowledge their opinions, their observations, their needs, their desires. It’s his way or nothing. Perhaps it is a mid-life crisis thing for me too. My husband and I seem to want to have a say in our lives. Is my choice really to spend ridiculous amounts of time doing something I don’t agree with, or fighting about it because we are never going to agree?

  57. Steve Smith on August 3, 2014 at 12:02 pm

    “Steve, those are a lot of nasty labels you give to people who are simply concerned about media barring, spreading disease, gang members and terrorists, and obeying the law”

    To address these concerns, I have heard that the media is being barred from entering some of the safe houses and shelters. I’m not sure as to the exact reasons why. At any rate, freedom of the press is not absolute nor should it be. If media coverage of an issue is putting private individuals’ lives at risk, it needs to be limited. The spread of disease is unfortunate, but that could be remedied with increased government funding. If we are really concerned about keeping the children from joining gangs, then it makes no sense to deport them back to Central America where they are far more likely to join gangs than if we try to integrate them into the US. As for the kids being or becoming terrorists, I don’t believe that they are politically conscious enough to do so. This is an unfounded concern. As for obeying the law, according to international law, people are within their rights to flee persecution and violence and starvation in their home country by taking refuge in another country. These children are doing just that. While they may not be facing political violence and persecution in their home countries, most of them fled because they faced domestic and community violence (1 in 550 people in San Pedro Sula, Honduras are killed, which is by far the highest murder rate in the world) and such dire lack of care that they were nearly starving to death.

    I understand and agree with the idea that not all immigrants should be able to stay in the US and that some deportation is necessary to maintain orderliness and stability. But many children are clearly refugees in flight from a life-threatening existence. The willful ignorance and/or the deliberate lack of compassion to the plight of these Central American children and the idea that all ‘illegal’ immigrants should be sent back and get in line is both xenophobic and classist.

  58. Steve Smith on August 3, 2014 at 12:08 pm

    Sid (#36), being an immigrant from a foreign country who achieved US citizenship in a more conventional manner does not preclude someone from being xenophobic or classist.

  59. Sharee on August 5, 2014 at 1:48 pm

    We’ve all heard the saying, “Feed a man a fish and you feed him for a day; teach him how to fish and you feed him for a lifetime.” I think we do the wrong thing in providing financial aid to countries where there is so much poverty and corruption. We’re just keeping them poor and corrupt. We need to teach these people how to make their own countries richer, then there would not be so much gang violence and poverty to flee. Of course, there is gang violence, poverty and political corruption in this country as well, maybe just not on such a large scale.

    I understand that many of these children are coming to their families that are already here. Am I mistaken in that? And, if we’re going to mention them fleeing from poverty, remember that it isn’t cheap to hire the people that are smuggling them in. It would probably be less expensive to apply to come legally. Safer, too, as I have heard that many of these children die before they reach our border.

    Yes, compassion is important. But do we really have the resources in this country to feed and clothe and educate all these people? I now I don’t. I can barely feed and clothe myself.

  60. Steve Smith on August 5, 2014 at 7:22 pm

    “I think we do the wrong thing in providing financial aid to countries where there is so much poverty and corruption….We need to teach these people how to make their own countries richer.”

    And wouldn’t that require financial aid?

    “I understand that many of these children are coming to their families that are already here. Am I mistaken in that?”

    Yes, you are. Many of them are fleeing from broken homes and dangerous communities. Their parents aren’t in the US.

    “if we’re going to mention them fleeing from poverty, remember that it isn’t cheap to hire the people that are smuggling them in”

    Wait, who are the people we are hiring to smuggle them in? The border patrol? So are you proposing that we not have a border patrol, because they’re too expensive?

    “It would probably be less expensive to apply to come legally”

    Wait, who comes to the US legally now? Mainly upper class, educated people who are acquainted with the procedures and have a means of supporting themselves while they wait to get into the US. Should the Syrian refugees in flight from chaos also have applied to ‘legally’ enter Turkey, Lebanon, and Jordan, and just waited patiently until approved?

    “But do we really have the resources in this country to feed and clothe and educate all these people?”

    According to a UN estimate, the total amount of wealth in the US in 2008 was $118 trillion, 85% of which is in the hands of 20% of Americans. In 2012, the US government brought in $4.9 trillion in tax revenue. $3.7 billion, the amount asked for by Obama, as a percentage of 118 trillion is %.003, and as a percentage of $4.9 trillion is .07%. So, yes, we kind of do have the money and resources. Besides, deporting all of those kids costs money too.

    “I can barely feed and clothe myself.”

    And yet you have money to pay the internet bill. Go figure.

    “Yes, compassion is important.”

    Yes it is. However, virtually everything you wrote is not in any way, shape, or form reflective of a compassionate attitude, but actually more of a social Darwinist attitude. I only hope that your ignorance on this issue is unintentional and not willful. But you need to seriously educate yourself on the topic of refugees, immigration, and policies to effectively, morally, and compassionately deal with it. But alas, your sort of attitude is only helping the Democrats win elections.

  61. Jake on September 27, 2014 at 11:14 am

    Sadly the only “Christian charity that “born agains” show is to people who look at life through the same tunnel they do,and to hell whti everyone else.

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