Hearts, Minds, and Walls

Posted on July 16, 2015 in Immigration, Justice, Law

shutterstock_141374191Thanks to a certain presidential candidate, illegal immigration is back in the news cycle. Among his controversial statements he’s spotlighted the border fence issue. He says he would build a wall across every foot of our shared border with Mexico. He’s not the only one saying it.

The United States has had more than enough laws to regulate immigration. They either couldn’t be enforced due to lack of resources or weren’t enforced as a matter of policy or political will. So people ignored them and entered illegally.

We built physical walls and fences across the highest-probability entry points and electronic monitoring to cover the rest of the border. People still came in. And continue to do so today, though in fewer numbers if you believe official government statistics.

Border states have borne the brunt of the consequences, so they’ve pleaded with the federal government to build more walls—bigger, harder to breach walls to protect them, and the rest of us, from the deluge of needy people we can’t afford to help—or don’t want to—and from criminals who want to peddle their drugs on our soil and worse.

As a follower of Jesus and a son of immigrants, I’m smack in the middle of the tension between God’s commands to submit to governing authorities—the Apostle Paul was talking about the Roman Empire when he wrote those words—and to welcome the stranger because my ancestors were once strangers in this land.

Law versus Love.

My parents emigrated from rural Italy. They left everything behind for a chance at a better life. Yes, they did it by the rules. Became naturalized. Assimilated into the American way of life as best they could.

But they came in 1948. From a nation America and its allies defeated in World War II. They came through New York harbor, past the Statue of Liberty, to their port of entry. The America of those times welcomed two foreign peasants whose home country had fought with Adolf Hitler. Would the equivalent be possible today?

There are valid reasons to secure our nation’s borders. The hard part, of course, is how. When we build a wall, we say to those outside it “we fear you and don’t want you in here.” But people who are desperate enough to risk their lives will find a way in.

Jesus says, “If any of you wants to be my follower, you must turn from your selfish ways, take up your cross, and follow me. If you try to hang on to your life, you will lose it. But if you give up your life for my sake, you will save it.” He also says, “do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. But rather fear Him who is able to destroy both soul and body in hell.”

Would our nation ever risk its collective life to welcome the strangers as God commands, and trust Him to provide for their needs and ours?

Would I risk my life to follow Jesus? Welcome a stranger? I say yes, but the truth is I won’t know until I’m faced with the for-keeps choice.

The lead character in my upcoming novel Perilous Judgment must face such a choice. His life, the lives of his family members, and the fates of two nations are at stake—whichever choice he makes.

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I will have an important announcement to share about Perilous Judgment next week. Watch for it in my blog and on my Facebook author page.

Peace and Joy,

Dennis Ricci signature first name


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