On January 30th the House Republican leadership released a one-page document with standards for immigration reform. The document has been met with some hope for a workable compromise between Democrats and Republicans on the issue of immigration reform.
In theory, the current immigration system is designed to make it easier for families to reunite, but in practice it is extremely complicated and ineffective. The document asserts that “the United States has emphasized extended family members and pure luck over employment-based immigration… Many [potential immigrants] want to use their expertise in US industries that will spur economic growth and create jobs for Americans. When visas aren’t available, we end up exporting this labor and ingenuity to other countries.” The GOP document acknowledges the benefit of guest workers in their standards for reform: “Of particular concern are the needs of the agricultural industry, among others. It is imperative that these temporary workers are able to meet the economic needs of the country and do not displace or disadvantage American workers.” One option for expanding immigration possibilities is to expand the legal ways for people to enter the country on guest-worker visas. However, we must also make sure that we remain aware of the need for reform in regards to the conditions for guest workers so that they are not exploited.
The document makes allowances to “provide an opportunity for legal residence and citizenship for those who were brought to this country as children through no fault of their own, those who know no other place as home. For those who meet certain eligibility standards, and serve honorably in our military or attain a college degree, we will [provide this opportunity.]” While it is wonderful to see that those who entered America as children have a clearer path to citizenship than adults who entered the country, this standard still requires various eligibility requirements. ESA advocates that a Christ-centered response to immigration looks like amnesty, something this document refuses. The document states: “There will be no special path to citizenship for individuals who broke our nation’s immigration laws—that would be unfair to those immigrants who have played by the rules and harmful to promoting the rule of law.” We’d love to see all humans treated with dignity and grace and an understanding that even if choices were made that were deemed “illegal” to enter the country, that choice doesn’t define a human being for the rest of his or her life.
Take a look at these ideas and see how you can get involved in offering grace to both documented and undocumented immigrants and seeing the imago dei inside every human.