By Joe Rector

It’s time to speak out. All of us are responsible for the actions of our government because (in too many cases it’s shameful) we elected the folks who are supposedly representing us. Silence is equivalent to support and alliance with the terrible things that are occurring.

Nearly 700 “illegal immigrants” were rounded up by ICE in a raid in Mississippi last month. Some of these folks have been in the country for more than 10 years. Perhaps they came to this country in an illegal fashion; perhaps they should have been dealt with at that time. However, it is cruel to nab them in some kind of sting operation after they’ve been in this country for so long and have set down roots, built lives, and begun families.

Our government needs to rework the immigration policies and laws to better fit our world. Yet, it shouldn’t deport those who have been here for so long. The jobs they work are often ones that no one else wants. The characterization of them as criminals, rapists, and drug dealers comes from people who are trying to whip up fear and anger in an attempt to remain in a political office. Those beliefs are held by extremists who are racists and white nationalist, not Christian.

Christians, by definition, are those who follow the teachings of Jesus Christ. That means they believe in his teaching. He told his followers,

“I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.”

When they asked him when they had done those things, he replied,

“Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.”

Don’t kill the messenger here. My intentions are not to deride anyone. I say these things because the fabric of our country is being ripped apart by the fear and anger being sewn by some. The truth is that we will never stop immigration, legal or illegal, from continuing. This country is founded by immigrants; only the native Indians can lay claim to the land.

Yes, the government must develop a sound, logical, and sensible immigration policy. Yes, people should come into the USA legally. What we cannot allow is the government to terrorize families and separate parents from children. That crosses the line that separates decency and cruelty.

From the point that new immigration laws are enacted, officials can quickly process each person to decide if he or she should be admitted. That is the fair way to deal with the situation. It removes politics and angry, scared people from the process.

We are better than this. Our country has for years accepted immigrants. The words on the plaque of the Statue of Liberty charge us with continuing better behavior than what we display now.

“Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free, The wretched refuse of your teeming shore. Send these, the homeless, tempest-tossed to me, I lift my lamp beside the golden door!”

Each individual in this country should look at the words of Jesus and from the Statue of Liberty. Are we being true to them? How close or far from them do we fall? What should our next course of action be. The answers to these questions might well determine the kind of country the United States becomes.