Immigration Reform and SB 1070

As an Arizonan I’ve been asked A LOT, recently, about my perspective on the new law (SB 1070) that will go into effect at the end of July 2010. If you haven’t read the bill, take a minute and actually READ it! It is a very loaded subject and one that merits discussion and diligent thought.

As a Christ follower, I try my best to align my political perspective with the Kingdom of God and not with political party.  Some of you will agree with me and some of you will totally disagree with me in my opinions and honestly that’s okay. Obviously, the issue is heavily loaded, but I think it’s important for us to discuss. I’m certainly not asserting to be an expert on the issue, these are just a few of my thoughts and observations that I’m, somewhat reluctantly, sharing out loud.

My first thought is that we need to use our brains and prayerfully think through what REAL and reasonable reform looks like in our country. As  we look at reform we need to remember, legal or illegal, that these immigrants are people. Whether you want them to leave today or not they are human beings with souls, dreams, desires and families. One of the hardest things for me to watch is the conversations where American citizens so quickly forget that these immigrants aren’t all criminal, tax sucking, lazy, alcoholic, drug trafficking, DUI offending, murdering, adulteress law breakers. If that’s your perspective on the issue, you clearly don’t know these people and you’ve allowed some source of media or political perspective to give you rhetoric rather than reality. I’m not saying there aren’t those people in that demographic, but it’s a far fetch to make the assumption that all of them fall in to those categories.

I recently heard the story of a Mexican woman here in the Southeast Valley. She’s the widowed mother of 5 Children who are all American citizens. She barely makes it but works odd jobs to ensure her children have their basic needs met. She’s here undocumented and doing all that she can to be here legally. The process has not been easy or reasonable to say the least and she’s been diligently trying to get legal status. She’s a hardworking woman who is trying to make a better way of life for her and her kids than the impoverished life she lived in Juarez, Mexico. She’s heavily involved in serving her community through the local church and is a huge part of a lot of people’s lives.

This woman recently came to one of her Pastors distraught over what she should do about the situation with SB 1070. She’s been in America almost 10+ years and this is where life is now. With this new law the choice is dicey. If she stays she gets to be the mom to her kids, contribute to society through her work, she can serve in her local church and keep trying to gain some long term legal status. Her end goal is to become a citizen of the USA as soon as humanly possible. The risk of her staying under SB 1070 is that it’s not just a deportation under the new law. It’s actually criminal and if she was arrested she’d most likely do some jail time to then be deported after serving her time. This then limits her chances of ever becoming a citizen or even gaining long term legal status to be here, because she would now be a criminal offender. She’s also mortified of what ‘jail’ is even like and fears for her well being in the jail system. She’s an upstanding mom trying to make a better way for her family, not a murderer.

Her choice is ‘going home’. Her Dilemma is that she’ll most likely end up leaving her 5 American children here in the States if she went back to Mexico. She would painfully choose this as she knows the life she’ll offer them in Mexico isn’t one that is in the best interest of their future. What does that mean for the kids and for society? Most likely the kids will end up in the Foster care system, will be split up and who knows the life they’ll live in light of that tough decision.

She also faces the struggle of really having little to no connection with people in the city where she’s from which is Juarez, Mexico. This is because she’s been in the States for so long now. She fears for her life because she’ll be ‘coming back’ to this city with a perception of being rich and American in a money hungry culture. Unfortunately, Juarez has one of the highest murder rates of any city in the WORLD right now and that is where she’s from in Mexico (in 2007 it had the highest murder rate in the world). She’s heard about the loss of close friends and family in her city due to ruthless bloodshed in the last few years. She’s just at her whits end trying to figure out what decision to make in light of SB 1070. Distraught, afraid and with the clock ticking her decision still weighs in the balance. Time will only tell.

What would you do if put in her situation?!

In some ways I think Gov. Brewers stealth operation to go out in the middle of nowhere to sign a bill that came out of nowhere is a wake up call to our country. I’m not sure it’s the wake up call everyone was hoping for, but, certainly, for some of you it couldn’t have been more timely. The subject of our borders and immigration needs to be addressed and needs reform.

It’s been interesting to talk to people who are being directly effected by the enforcement of this law. We’re talking about people who have been in the states undocumented for decades now. Many of these people like this woman I mentioned have children who are American citizens and have little to no connection with the place where they came from in Mexico. If you’re saying to them ‘go home’ because they’re illegal, I would contend that you’re not really thinking about what you’re saying and the ramifications of what that does to a family unit. If ‘the law’ had been consistently enforced on the Federal, State and Local level this conversation would be very different. Unfortunately, the law has not been effectively enforced in our nation for a long time and so we find ourselves with an issue that needs addressing with that understanding in mind. We have to consider these stories as we reform our process and we also have to consider the stories that aren’t as ideal as the one I told. The story of the illegal that was DUI who killed that innocent American family has to be considered too. There needs to be reasonable reform in this issue and it I believe it needs to include equitable amnesty in the reform.

There are sooo many stemming reasons that make me think SB 1070 isn’t the answer for reform. In my opinion, I believe Gov. Brewer found an amazing way to get another term as the Arizona Governor and to wake the Federal Government to a pressing issue called Immigration Reform.  What I don’t think is a good idea is a Federal lawsuit on Arizona or this bill coming into law at the end of this month. Neither are good answers to reasonable change in our great country.

I hope we can talk about reasonable Immigration Reform? My opinion is that ‘Cold Gavel-ing’ and enforcing a new law like SB 1070 at the end of the month can’t be the best answer we have when we haven’t enforced Immigration Laws or our borders properly in decades. We need to own, at all level of Government, what we haven’t done well in regards to this law. The process for people to get a work visa, obtain citizenship and to actually be here legally, while better than most countries, still needs a 21st Century face-lift. Our Federal, State and Local Governments needs to address this unreliable process and figure out a way to streamline people through the process with efficiency. For some the answer will be YES for obtaining legal status and for others, based on the criteria, the answer will be NO. There has to be lines drawn for who can and can’t be here legally, but, every person should have the right to go through that process in a timely manner with efficiency. We’ve got to lay down the right to politics and start taking up the rights of people once again. Political rhetoric on either side doesn’t get stuff done and I pray that we would find some unified grounds on reform within our great country. It has to be done.

I recently was talking with a friend about The Immigration Reform and Control Act of 1986 from Reagan’s day. I think he really got the idea of what equitable amnesty meant while also beginning to really address legitimate and reasonable reform. I haven’t studied all of the reasons why Immigration has continued to be a lack luster issue in our Government, but, I do know that it’s been over decades of bi-partisan leadership in which it’s slipped through the cracks.

Check out the basics of what this Act provided:

The Immigration Reform and Control Act (IRCA), Pub.L. 99-603, 100 Stat. 3359, enacted November 6, 1986, also Simpson-Mazzoli Act, is an Act of Congress which reformed United States immigration law.

In brief the act:[1]

  • required employers to attest to their employees’ immigration status, and granted amnesty to certain illegal immigrants who entered the United States before January 1, 1982 and had resided there continuously
  • made it illegal to knowingly hire or recruit illegal immigrants (immigrants who do not possess lawful work authorization)
  • granted a path towards legalization to certain agricultural seasonal workers and immigrants who had been continuously and illegally present in the United States since January 1, 1982

Do you think this kind of an Act should be put back on the table with updated dates and a better plan to secure the borders? What do you think about the situation? Sound off and be kind to one another when you do it! Opinions are fine, just don’t be hating on each other as you fire off your opinions. Respect makes you credible in conversations like this one. Remember we’re talking about human beings and not animals. Ready, Set, Go….

39 responses to “Immigration Reform and SB 1070

  1. Brian, thanks for sharing that story. It sure is different to hear an actual living, breathing example of how this is affecting real people. I’ve been on the fence about this this bill since it’s inception. I have read it, and discussed it with people who aggressively fight for both sides of it. I guess my opinion boils down to this: Immigration reform is abosolutely necessary, but this bill and the way it will be enforced is far from perfect. We need something soon, but is it worth enforcing a flawed system now in hopes that the kinks will get worked out? My family on my dad’s side is from Chihuahua, Mexico, and my sister lived in Mexico City for a little over a year, so I can definitely appreciate the immense benefit a person has by coming to the US. On the flip side, my aunt, who is from the Phillipines, moved to the US to marry my uncle, and I saw just how insanely tough it is to become a citizen of this country. It took her years of going back and forth between both countries, piles of paperwork, and my grandparents eventually persisting enough to get a meeting with Jon Kyl before her paperwork made any kind of headway. It seems like if we were to come up with a more realistic way for people to persue becoming legal citizens, it would lighten this load tremendously. I know that’s easier said than done…Thanks for taking the time to hit this issue, Brian.

    • thanks for your insights Brent. The story of your Aunt is one of MILLIONS!!! There’s got to be a more efficient process for us to say YES or NO to folks who want to make this place there home for a season or forever.

      you rock bro!

  2. I sincerely admire your candor on this issue I think the church especially shys away when the issue is seen a “conservative vs. liberal” I feel like your oppinion is enlightening and direct and the closest attempt to seeing the issue through the eyes of God I’ve seen thus far. I have always appreciated your ability to say what you believe despite whether it is popular or not. Thanks Brian! Miss you and Prom lots…

    • Thanks Taylor. This is the reality we’re living in here in Arizona. It’s a tough issue and there’s no ‘right’ answer. We just need to be reasonable. Praying that we can find that in our state and country!

  3. Whoa. This is such an emotional and rational discussion, Brian. Kudos!

    As someone born to an illegal immigrant to this country (he was brought here at the age of 5), I appreciate the stance that you take to first recognize the spiritual implications and the social ramifications of this law.

    I really would like to chat before I speak at 12 cities/12 conversations in Nashville.

    Love you like a brother 😉

    • Thanks Bianca! I’m so glad your dad made it to the USA and grateful for the influence of his amazing heritage (you and jas included). Life would have been so different for the Juarez Family if he’d been anywhere else. America is better for stories like yours!

      Love you guys!!

  4. It is a very dicey subject. Because if you boil it down yes they are breaking the law, whether the are Mexican or British or German. The focus here in Arizona is of course on those that are of Mexican decent. The fear of stereotyping is real, because they are not asking everyone they pull over for proof of citizenship or legal status to be in the States.

    I know from having family friends that are from Germany it took years upon years to even get their Greencards, let alone the massive amounts of money having to fly back and forth to Germany for legal reasons.

    I was thinking the other day that we are commanded by Jesus to care for the orphans, widows, and aliens. This was part of the Law in Jewish community. So I’m trying to find the balance of yes obeying the laws of man {which we’ve been commanded to by Jesus also} and caring for the aliens. It isn’t an easy balance to say the least.

  5. The words of a vajra buddha (Christ) are meant to lift consciousness and render love into action to the greatest extent possible, but are not meant to abolish our rights to our own bodies and selves. Put another way, someone else’s suffering does not entitle them to drain away your life; compassion should not be self-immolation.

    Luckily for humanity, the founding fathers of the United States set up a system of government and economy that would promote something better than such a zero-sum game. And they succeeded in spectacular fashion, as their institutions and philosophy as rooted in the English Enlightenment period created the fertile ground for the richest, free-est, and most powerful nation on Earth to rise up and defend free peoples everywhere from tyranny.

    It is this beacon of freedom, our government of, by, and for the people, and our culture of opportunity based on self-reliance and anglo-saxon ethics, that attracts people from all over the world to come and make a life here.

    For most of the nation’s history, the myth of ethnic diversity has been just that: a myth. Assimilation has been ruthless and effective, and has preserved the unique brand of culture and philosophy that buttresses our great success. Though there are ethic flavors in the tapestry of America, they are transmogrified into trace elements of mild potency.

    In this way, our nation renews itself, without losing itself.

    No nation – not even the United States of America – can survive a balkanization of its people. Without a unifying philosophy, a unifying language, a unifying set of principles and ideals, a nation will depart the renaissance, enter the baroque, and then finally lose all form as its fissures and fractures are left untended by a population unable to even know whether its body is blighted.

    Which brings us to the present moment in America. The accommodation, for myriad reasons, first of three million illegals from Mexico granted amnesty in 1986, and now 12 – 20 million illegals of the same provenance, has been an abandonment of American heritage and an abandonment of the American ideal.

    This non-assimilating population came here through illegal means and without regard to our sovereignty and with no intention whatsoever of being anglicized as have all previous (legal) immigrant groups. Therefore their presence here must be resisted and ultimately ended, and any notion that this is not possible is a lie.

    Our nation has been and remains the last best hope of Earth, and we must preserve and defend it so that free peoples the world over may always live in the secure knowledge that the greatest nation to ever grace the face of the Earth will remain the sword and shield of freedom down through the ages of man.

    • Amazingly well put, sasoc. If not for the basic definition of “country” that you’ve just laid out, then there would be no conversation here. And no USA.

      Any democratic republic state is alwys a free nation, but never free for the taking.

      • You have some valid points, yet, at the same time I’m not sure you’re statement is realistic about what reasonable immigration reform looks like in America in 2010. We have not done what could have been done over the past two decades to ensure the Act of 86 was actually what was reality. That can’t be changed, but, the future can be and needs to be. We can learn from what hasn’t been done, but, the Act in and of itself seemed very reasonable to me…it just didn’t get enforced like it should have been.

        All I’m saying is that we need reasonable reform and better processes for people that do want to come in to this great country. It’s a life or death decision for many of these Mexican people, it’s not as easy as saying…’okay, it’s time to head back home now.’ The complications are far to weighty and our country is far better than that being the answer.

        I also believe we need to aid Mexico in more strategic and palatable ways as part of the plan for reform. These people should want to be from their country. I believe there are brighter days ahead for the country of Mexico if we’ll help them establish real leadership in their country. We may need to work on ours before we help there’s though. 🙂

        Again, I’m not an expert on the issue…these are just thoughts I have on what reform could look like.

        Curious what worries you about reasonable reform and documenting those that are already here to be tax paying immigrants of the US?

  6. Every person does have the right to go through the process…but not everyone chooses to do so. I have relatives and friends who have come from Honduras, the Phillipines, Canada and many African countries. They have all done so legally. Just because you can walk across the border does not make it ok. The Immigration act of 1986 states. Employers are required to attest to their employees immigration status and amnesty was granted to certain illegal immigrants who were here in 1982. It was also illegal to knowingly hire or recruit illegals who do not have the proper work authorization. This was not enforced. So now we should give everybody amnesty again?
    You can not work in other countries without the proper papers nor can you stay more then 90 days. So why should we always be the country that lets everyone slide on by.
    I work in a Neonatal Intensive Care Unit in Southern California. (which will remain nameless) Many of our families are from Mexico. The parents don’t even understand basic English. It is very difficult to explain to them how sick their baby is. They are able to get Medical because the mom is pregnant..then the baby is covered under moms Medical for the month of birth and the month after. Then after that they can get their own Medical because the baby is now a US citizen because he is born here. Other countries do not allow this. If a mother has a baby in Australia one or both must be a citizen for the baby to be considered an Austrilian Citizen. I have worked many years in the NICU. I love the families and the babies I have worked with. They are all God’s children. I only want what is best for them.I have worked with the moms to help them learn basic English. So they can communicate with us about the care of their babies. But this has put a huge burden on our Medical system in California.
    Another example is…my niece finished her schooling and credentialing to become a teacher.
    She lives in the Escondido area. She is having a hard time finding a job. Some of it is due to the economics of California…but the other issue is…all of the jobs are listed as “bilingual” preferred, required etc. That is not fair. We live in USA and we speak English. Many of the schools have cut other needed areas to keep the ESL programs and Bilingual Teachers aids.
    I don’t agree with all Arizona is doing. But at least someone has now standing up for enforcing the immigration.

  7. Brian –

    Thank you. This is a can of worms and Arizona is just trying to take its’ state back. The Federal Government has failed to do what it should have been doing for a long time. We live in Arizona and appriciate the Hispanic and Indian influences a great deal or we would not live here. We just need to be law abiding people!

  8. Christ also calls us to follow the laws of the land. Being here illegally is violating those laws. SB 1070 doesn’t create a new class of criminals, it only enforces existing Federal law, which the Feds aren’t enforcing for political reasons. Why should an immigrant from Europe or Canada have to wait years to get here legally or if they are from South America they can walk in and go to the front of the Citizenship line? Enforce existing laws now and work on future immigration laws. I think we need to make a guest-worker VISA program–get them an SSN, they pay taxes, FICA, renew every 10 years as long as criminal history is clear. But until that passes Congress the laws need to be enforced. AZ is being inundated with illegals, who are here for humanitarian and criminal reasons, and they have a right to enforce the laws in their own state.

  9. Hey Brian,
    I agree with you and I also disagree with you. I understand that these are people who have families and that not all of them are criminal. Many of the illegal immigrants in our country also do work that a majority of Americans refuse to do. I definitely agree that as a country, we should have had more secure borders, but I also feel like those that are here illegally made the choice to enter the states on that account. By making that decision, whether it was weeks ago or decades ago, they put themselves at risk for a potential deportation or immigration law. While I’d hate to see families ripped apart because of a law like this, I also feel that these people took advantage of the U.S. by having their children in the states to make them citizens. The choices that illegal immigrants make shouldn’t be rendered without consequences. As a parent, this is a struggle I face everyday with my child…teaching her that her choices have consequences. For an adult to knowingly cross border lines illegally and to attempt to make a life here in the U.S. and then to not face consequences for their actions when a reform comes into effect is not exactly the kind of lesson we try to teach our own children. If a person wants to become a citizen of the United States, every step possible should be a legal one. To sneak over here and then claim they’ve been here for so long and they have children here who are citizens seems deceiving to me. Those people know how the U.S. works.

    Also, with so many illegal immigrants, we as taxpayers have to fork out the money for their medical insurance. Is that really fair to ask of people who have come here legally? At this time, jobs are scarce for many Americans while taxes continue to increase nationwide. And yet, we still have to pay taxes and support the illegal community when they get sick and require medical assistance.

    With that said, I don’t want you to think that I am completely heartless and that I don’t care about those people as people. I just feel strongly that when those people entered the U.S. that they knew what they were doing was wrong, and they did it anyway and suscepted their children to these possible consequences. These people need to take ownership for their decision. I realize that they left their home countries to create opportunities for themselves and families and fully understand that they only wanted what’s best for their families…but this is a very heavy decision with extreme consequences if they get caught. I know that it is through desperation that they come here, but many Americans have taken drastic measures to provide for their families here in the states and they have suffered the consequences. I heard of a person who stole a pound of meat for his family from the grocery store and the store pressed charges against him.

    For those businesses who knowingly hired illegal immigrants, I feel that they should be punished as well. They used those people because they work for pennies on the dollar which saves them money in the long run, but also takes away from another family who is here legally and deserves to provide for their family.

    With all of that said, I don’t necessarily agree with the bill passed in AZ. Like you said, this is an extremely tough topic to discuss. Many were brought here as innocent children. Do they deserve to face the same charges as the adults who brought them here? Our system is seriously flawed…I agree it needs to be fixed, but many things should be taken into consideration before imprisoning someone who doesn’t have their paperwork with them. And like your other friend stated, it should be a little easier to become a citizen for those who are clearly dedicated and show allegiance to the U.S. I also feel like for those people who are legal immigrants working jobs, that many restrictions should be lifted off of them as well.

    Brian, I love how you get people thinking about things like these, even when they’re tough topics and have many sides. What I’ve shared is just one side of the story. Even though I’m in Kansas, the immigration reform has been a hot topic here. I hope that my opinion has not offended anyone as it is just that…my opinion. I really have nothing against any of those who come here illegally as people, but I also see the value in living with the consequences of your actions. Thanks again for sharing your thoughts and opinions!

  10. Maria (not my realy name)

    Brian, I liked reading your thoughts, and I think I can echo much of them. Although, I haven’t verbalized or in written word sounded my thoughts out fully on my own.

    A friend shared with me recently that he is very okay with racial profiling in relation to this issue in order to keep our country safe, and I can understand that logic and the desire to remain free, unharmed and safe. Yet, that desire to remain free, unharmed and safe is also deserved to the woman spoken of in your blog post, and not just Americans. Every life is precious, which I think we all can agree on that – life is precious.

    While reading all the posts, which I was very glad to do so and gain a better insight on the varying viewpoints, I had this image of Jesus walking alongside a man who was trying to cross the border. Jesus was helping him to walk. He was not leading him back to the country he came from, but only forward. The man was weak and needed water. Others were just horrified, and didn’t understand why he didn’t change direction. But, walking alongside was all that was necessary at that moment.

    All I know, that’s partly what I want to be to people… I want to walk with a compassionate heart and love the orphans, widows and aliens. To walk alongside them. What does that look like? Not so sure at times here in the states, since there are so many things to distract, hoops to get through, and my own American sedentary life to get over. In other countries where poverty is amok it seems so obvious as to what that compassion looks like. It’s hard to drive down the roadway and see the wealth that surrounds us, yet know our own country has the capability to end poverty in so many places, yet we don’t and we blame the government and church with a capital C for not doing so. It’s all sooo weird, and a continual cycle. (Okay, now I’m rambling)

    Fine, tax me, and if it helps another in distress in a hospital, okay. I’m not owed anything. Yes, I work hard, and it would be nice to take the full paycheck home, but I would probably end up dividing my income and using it on frivolity and things of this world. If I end up dying in an old, broken down trailer like my grandparents, because there’s no “wealth” to spread around to me due to others from other countries, so be it. I’ll just envision myself as an old African woman living in a hut who has just the beauty of the stars to keep her smiling.

    If an individual seeks to get help at a hospital via deceptive means, then that person will stand before God and have to account for that, but I can’t say that others have precedence or that an American citizen deserves first dibs. I just can’t.

    I disagree with the new law coming into effect soon. I don’t like the possibility of an ulterior motive in Brewer to secure herself a new term, and I don’t like learning a white supremacist drafted the law, which primarily targets the Hispanic population.

    But, it is good it is bringing the issue of immigration reform to the limelight, and hopefully something good, rational, and effective will come about that will keep the best interest of ALL individuals involved. Change is good, and it should occur.

  11. Luke Hollymon

    Geez, very good thoughts. I was directed here by @MattMaher’s twitter feed and am glad I came.

    I completely agree with you. And I completely disagree. I’m always torn on this and just can’t make up my mind. In one regard, its an easy thing to say “they broke the law get them out,” and then on the other, man I know these people, I deal with them everyday. I’m from New Mexico, 40 mi from the border, so I see these people everyday. I’ve coached the kids in soccer and baseball, I’ve seen their homes, their families, their lives, and to think about what would happen if their parents got shipped away, man, that would just kill me. Then my mind says “they’re breaking the law, get them out.” It leaves me torn between my heart and my mind, everyday I try to rectify my thoughts, and I fail.

    I don’t want them taking my tax-dollars for everything, I don’t want them sneaking across the border, I don’t want them breaking the law, I don’t want them taking jobs away from Americans, but I don’t want them to suffer because they sought out a better life 15 or 20 years ago. What can we do then? How can we be compassionate and care for these people, while enforcing our laws?

    Well it starts there, with laws. We have to tighten up border security, no question. But that has to be the FIRST step, not the second. After that, give amnesty. You have to. There are too many people here working alongside us who we could not in a Christian mind pull away from their families. After amnesty though, they have to become citizens. No question there. Maybe give everyone 180 days to apply for citizenship, and yes, loosen up the process, for the good of everyone. So, tighten the borders, give amnesty but requrie everyone to apply for citizenship within a certain time-frame, after that, I’m sorry, you’re out. And then let them become citizens and people of this country, they can strengthen us, if we allow them, until then this issue will only pull us apart.

    I support the AZ law, but only insomuch as the law is finally pushing people to really think about this. The Federal lawsuit, that only serves to split the country even farther apart, at a time when we are already split along political and racial lines. That will only make it worse. But I respect Jan Brewer for standing up for herself, and I pray that some real reform will come from all of this, reform that strengthens this country, rather than driving it apart.

  12. Brian,

    I appreciate your opinions. Immigration has been a HOT issue for awhile. As a Christian and as a citizen of the United States, I can see two approaches and mind sets.
    First let me address the topic as a Christian.

    As Christians, we are called to obey our government even when we disagree with what that government does. (Rom. 13:3-5) Paul lived in a time when the government was corrupt and outside of the control or influence of ordinary people, but he still said that the believer should be in subjection to that authority. He said it was a “minister of God.” So subjection to governmental authority is submitting to God’s minister. We as Christians encourage other Christians we know to obey every law, even those we think are unjust because in obedience to that earthly law we are obeying God.

    As citizens of the United States, we have certain rights to inform our government and make changes to it. Even as Christians who are called to obey earthly governments, we still have rights to vote, serve in elected office, petition our government for change, and the right to speak our opinion of governmental policy without fear of repercussion. Yet, there are certain limits to our protests, we should not break the law that we are trying to change for that would conflict with Scripture’s command. We also need to submit to the system for change that the United States government is built on, which is democracy. We elect people who make our laws. If we don’t like the laws, we elect others who change the laws. Everything is built on the principle in America that majority of the people rule. It is that simple. Is it perfect? No. But no better form of government has been tried. We submit to the majority opinion because it is better than a minority, however good intentioned, making our decisions for us. For in America, we are considered equal. No one knows better how to rule over someone else than any other.

    So back to immigration. The majority of Americans believe that the Arizona bill is justified and the right way to deal with this massive problem. If the citizens decided that this is a law that they want, then as Christians we are called to obey it.

    • Ken, I’m not sure you really want to say that. Paul did in fact say to submit to authority, and yet where did he write most of his letters? Prison. Why? For breaking the laws of those same governments by speaking about Jesus. I think Paul subjected himself to those authorities by willingly disobeying them, and then willingly receiving his punishment.

      I think your basic point is that we should generally go along with government. I think maybe in a general sense I would agree. But if you believe something is unjust (and this bill may or may not be), I don’t think you just “obey it.”

      Anyway, not sure where I come down on this, but I love the approach Brian is taking here to simply be willing to wade into the muddy waters and talk about what is good and bad on both sides of the issue.

  13. Amanda Chavez

    Brian – Like everyone else I really appreciate you posting this. I think it’s important to open up places to have loving discussions and share ideas. I think, as Christians, people watch to see how the tough discussions are handled. So thanks for getting the gears turning today.
    Honestly, alot of days I am on the fence on the bill. I DEFINITELY agree something needs to be done. I can’t imagine being that woman and fleeing from a place for fear of her safety. And I can understand as a mom wanting do everything in your power to provide the best life for kids. I would do anything and everything for my family. If she could be provided a better way to stay here legally and remain with her family I would be all for it.
    Where I struggle is knowing that there are people who are here illegally who aren’t here doing what she’s doing and that it is costing so many in taxes and safety. It’s our governments job to protect us and when it comes to border security they have not succeeded in following through and enforcing that. I agree that SB 1070 is flawed and like Brent I don’t know it’s worth it to pass something that sort of works and then fix the problems later. Which could ultimately cost more. So basically I am on the fence mostly as to the solution. I see and understand parts of both sides.

    • Hi Brian,
      If it wasn’t for the woman in your story this would be an open and shut case for me.

      However, I’m sure for the victims of crime done by illegal immigrants, including the girl that was raped this year by a man who had been deported multiple times, I’m sure this is an open and shut case.
      One thing that has bothered me about this and so many issues in America is the lack of personal responsibility. People know the risks when they CHOOSE to break our laws and come here, they CHOOSE to have children, specifically so the kids can be citizens, then complain because the government is splitting up their family.
      What if I had cheated on my taxes for 10 years, then the government said they will crack down on cheaters. I get arrested and sent to prison for 5 years. Who will stick up for me when I say “YOU are splitting up my family.”? No. They took a risk and for some the risk has paid off. For others it hasn’t.

      Prudence’s point is well taken that we are to care for the aliens. These people are fellow humans before they are illegal. If they have an urgent and immediate medical need, we should help. If they are hungry, or thirsty or naked,we should help. However, that doesn’t mean we let them keep coming. And I don’t think it means we let them stay.
      This world is constantly fixing the symptom and not the problem. Mexico’s president comes to this country and complains about our country, instead of fixing his own(which is the real problem). Illegal immigrants come to this country and protest us to make change, instead of protesting their own country to make change. Again, the U.S. is not the problem. If it was, people would not be flocking here. And if the slow moving immigration policy is the problem, then work at fixing that. Don’t simply break the law and say “If you made it easy on me, I wouldn’t have to sneak in.”, as though you are a victim.

      Almost the whole world is under the poverty level. Yet we don’t feel obligated to let 5 billion people come to the U.S. Why do we feel obligated to let 14 million come from Mexico?(Pick your number of choice. Either way it’s a lot). If the U.S. had a history of doing nothing to help others in need, this may be different. We aren’t perfect, but we have always helped the world. And we continue to do so, despite the fact that we are the poorest nation in the world, if you consider the fact that we have the largest debt of any country. A debt that is too large to pay off.

      The U.S. is not bad. Arizona is not bad. Both the government and the citizens do a lot to help others all over the world, including Mexico.

      I still come down in favor of SB 1070. Flawed or not, it’s better than nothing. And according to news reports, it seems to be working to help Arizona because illegal immigrants are going to other states.
      Time will tell if those reports are accurate.

  14. Thank you for this rational discussion on a subject where most seem to throw rational discussion out the window as soon as it’s discussed.

    I also appreciate your appeal to Truth, which is just another way of saying Religion, really.

  15. My mother (an immigrant), and I agree with Vickie entirely.

  16. Thank you for addressing this issue. God has his hand on over this state.

    The bible teaches us in Exodus 22:21, “You shall not wrong or oppress a resident alien, for you were aliens in the land of Egypt.” Reminding the people of biblical Israel that they had been slaves in Egypt, the Hebrews are enjoined to treat aliens, foreigners and sojourners in their midst fairly and with respect.

    Leviticus 19:34 echoes and expands upon the Exodus teaching. “The alien who resides among you shall be to you as the citizen among you; you shall love the alien as yourself, for you were aliens in the land of Egypt; I am the Lord your God.”

    God bless!

  17. Hello Brian!

    Thanks for the discussion invite on the new AZ Immigration law.

    As Christians, we must submit to our gov’t and its laws, Check Romans chap 13 for His word on this. We must also not just submit, but also respect our gov’t and its laws, for to show disrespect, shows disrespect to God, as He has ordained those who have authority and their laws, for our God loves His purpose and order for us.

    There are several issues here. The main one that I see, is the implication of disregarding what is legal. We must uphold the principle of obeying the law. We do not want to sow this anti-law, anti-God principle amongst our neighbors, fellow citizens, and our children. Bad consequences will result. We are not God, so we must follow His rules, and the God ordained law of the land. As much as we like, care for, and feel compassion for those here illegally, we must live by the rules, and encourage them, as Christians, to follow the law.

    Our Federal gov’t, and not just this current administration, has not felt compelled to vigorously enforce immigration laws (thereby showing disrespect for itself by its own citizens!). My sense is that in our republican form of gov’t, it is too hot of a political potato. Gov’t won’t face this politically tough issue, the result is a HUGE problem that finally won’t get swept under the political rug.

    The unfortunate consequence of not enforcing these laws is the unsustainable situation that we have now, 10 to 30 million illegal aliens in our midst, that know first hand, the lack of consequence for breaking laws, in someone elses country. Not a good way to educate our immigrants to how our society operates. Society deteriorates when its rules are ignored.

    The main reason for our current dilemma, is a weak backbone exhibited by our Federal leaders for what is right (enforcing the current immigration law).

    I am totally in favor of your Governor enforcing immigration law, laws that should be dealt with by the Feds. This Federal failure results in your state protecting itself with its own law. I applaud AZ for it’s difficult stand in defending its borders.

    There are several other side issues to this discussion that can be discussed, but this one, that of obedience, respect, and enforcement of God blessed laws, in my opinion, must be agreed upon before anything else can be kicked around.

  18. Who is my neighbor?
    While there is a bit written in the Word about obeying laws, there is far more about the primacy of love.
    The greatest commandment is to love the Lord our God with all our heart, soul, mind and strength, and our neighbor as ourselves.
    Who is my neighbor?
    I think neighbors include the refugees who have fled desperate situations to come to the USA. Which means our highest calling is to show love to these folks, our neighbors.
    Sometimes when I read opinions about the situation, sentences like “seeking a better opportunity” make it sound like changing school districts to help the kids get into a better college.
    Let’s be frank. The Mexican economy is in tatters. Even with all of the new jobs that have been developed in the past 10 years, wages in most of Mexico are below any sense of poverty.
    Most of the folks I have encountered from south of the border are not here to become wealthy; they flee starvation and desperation, risking their very lives to send enough money home to keep their children alive.
    How desperate must one be to risk one’s life to travel with frightening people through deadly conditions to work at minimum wage so your children can eat?
    In my opinion, 1070 was a publicity ploy by our governor and a few politicians that is short on solutions and is incredibly harmful to Arizona’s top industry-tourism.
    But Christ-like, I don’t think so.
    Just my opinion . . .

  19. When Jesus responded to the teacher of the law regarding the greatest commandments, His answer (including) that we are to “love our neighbor” was directed to me and you, not Ceaser.

    Our surrendered heart must include that we love our nieghbor (and our local neighbor may be an illegal alien), but we must respect the civil law, for that is honoring to God.

    Jesus is our example for the issue of our relationship to the law. Jesus turned the religious laws and traditions upside down as he fulfilled the “Law”, but not the civil law, Jesus didn’t break Ceasers law, subjecting Himself even to Pilate.

    If we do not apply the existing immigration law we also show disrespect to those who come from south of our border legally, as well as those who came here originally and sacrificed greatly, to establish this great nation, and honored The Word of God and the rule of law (not men), as part of that sacrifice.

    Sasoc, above, has wise words on this.

    Regarding what to do, what is what I believe Brian is asking about, we must first respect and enforce the law. That means secure borders and protect our nation from this invasion. The Feds are failing in this. Your state, like mine, California, must step up. Support your Governor, I do and most of the rest of the nation does.

    Secondly, identify who is legal and illegal here and begin the process of applying the law that is on the books.

    Thirdly, love my neighbor, that is our charge from Jesus Himself, I must let the Spirit invade my heart in this regard, and act on it.

  20. If we are looking at this from a Christian perspective… here are a few thoughts: 1) breaking the law (aka “sin”) is not an acceptable way to solve our problems, 2) God promises to care for his children and their needs wherever they may live on his earth.
    It IS a sin to break the law. Sin has consequences. We all sin every day, but some of those sins have more severe consequences than others. Some sins affect other people, often people we love dearly. We make choices every day, and some of those choices have life long effects. I know of some great Christians who have served jail time for breaking the law. I may think it is unjust, but it is the law never-the-less. If I am suddenly left a widow with no means to support myself or my 4 kids is it ok for me to cheat on my taxes year after year because I need the money to support my kids? No! Not only am I breaking the law, I am not allowing God to provide for me, I am choosing to live in sin, and I am hindering my relationship with God by doing so. Genesis is full of people that God was trying to use for his glory, who tried to “help” God ( lies/deceit,etc.) because He wasn’t working the way they thought He should be. God’s ways are not our ways. He does not need our help. He needs our faith. My mom was left in this same situation when my dad left her with 3 kids and no means of support. She prayed us through our “poor” years, and we experienced miracle after miracle as God provided for our needs! It was the single most faith building experience of my life! So, while I do have compassion for people in this situation, there are SO many lawful ways that we can care for our neighbors without helping them break the law.

  21. I’d just like to point out that same Paul that wrote for us to be subject to rulers and authorities was willing to break those laws when the pursuit of God was greater.

    Let’s not forget where Paul wrote much of his letters from – prison.

    All that to say that it is possible that to follow Jesus means to break the laws of the land. Now clearly that would be the exception, not the rule. And in this case, I’m not saying we should. I honestly don’t know. But it’s still worth pointing out.

    • Jeremy, as you point out, Paul wrote from prison. Because he broke the law. He wasn’t given a handout, instead its a beautiful story of how even when he went against the law – because he was doing the work of God, he still had to go to jail. And he gave glory to God even when he was in chains! Following Christ hurts, but it seems that even if we break the law there is still a punishment.
      Just a thought…
      And I’m not totally sure Paul’s story is a sufficient example of whats happening with the AZ law – Paul wanted to tell people about Jesus, even if it meant breaking the law. I’m not sure that is the reason the people come to America illegally. Do you see my point?
      You were always more analytical than me, so I’d love to hear your point on this. 🙂

      • Amy, I totally see your point. And I’m not at all trying to say that Paul going to prison for preaching Jesus is the same as illegal immigration. My only point was in response to those who simply said “It’s the law of the land, so we should obey it.” I just don’t agree with that logic at all. It’s easy to say that in a free country. But I don’t think we would tell Chinese believers that they shouldn’t gather in Jesus name because the law of the land says that they can’t.

        And I would argue that the same goes for justice issues. I don’t think any of us think that the underground railroad that freed so many slaves was sinful because it broke the laws of the land. Or that sitting in the front of a bus or refusing to use separate drinking fountains or anything like that was sinful either. And yet they broke the laws of the land.

        So for this issue I’m just saying that there’s more to it than simply “the law says you shouldn’t be here.”

        An interesting study might be the book of Philemon. Here is a slave that runs away. He comes illegally to Paul. Paul then sends him back, with a letter asking his owner to treat him with the respect and honor of a brother. Paul is even willing to pay what the man owes himself.

        So on one hand Paul has this slave “Onesimus” do what is legal and right and return to his owner. But on the other hand he requests that the owner show compassion and free him, elevate him to the status of a brother, and even offers to pay his debts for him.

        Again, I don’t live anywhere near AZ or CA anymore, so I’m not even totally aware of the situation. But I do think that as Christ followers our response is different than simply saying “we follow the laws of the land.”

        Hope you guys are surviving the heat out there!!

      • Jeremy, I knew you’d have a good answer. I appreciate it. 🙂

        Yep, its a big issue out here, and my feelings are pretty close to that of everyone on here. There is a problem and it needs to be fixed, not sure if this is the right way. (But def certain that a lawsuit by federal governemt is the last thing that should be happening right now.) Time for some forward movement on a huge problem.

        I’m sitting here with a fan directly on me, and going no where near outside… thats the only way to survive these days!!

        Take care.

  22. Brian-

    Thanks for your insight on this issue. What ppl don’t know or don’t want to accept is that this law has been in full effect, as a federal law for the longest time.

    Like you, I believe that regardless there are those that come here, while illegal, to better themselves and their families. Are their criminals in that mix? Sure, should those be deported? Yes. But the reality is that if you go downtown to court, the majority of the ppl being convicted of crimes are LEGAL citizens, be it Hispanic, White, Black, Asian, etc. I’m not saying that there aren’t illegal citizens committing crimes, and yes there is a bunch, but the majority are here legally and are criminals.

    The likelihood of the ppl that are struggling, as the lady you mentioned, are the majority of the ppl that are scared to death of this ‘new’ law. Working in the criminal justice system, I see the ‘bajador’ cases…these are the cases where the drop houses are, when they have a coyote bringing ppl from Mexico and other countries and then holding them hostage; doing unmentionable things to them to torture them, in hopes that their family members will pay a ransom…

    Do you know how these victims feel? I’ve talked to several of them during our call outs; they’re scared, afraid that these coyotes are going to hurt their families; that the police is now going to arrest them and the state prosecute them. Meanwhile, my office provides them a bus ticket, a bag full of canned food and sends them on their way, while the state prosecutes the coyotes. It’s sad…and all these victims wanted was to be able to work, have food and send some money over to their families in their country of origin so they’re able to eat too.

    On the flipside, you have officers that besides risking their lives and having to deal w/ criminals are now being obligated to ask ANYONE they suspect that is here illegally to present proper docs. I’m Hispanic, and if I get pulled over for this reason, I’ll be honest, I’ll be pretty upset. Thankfully, I’m a U.S citizen, but my heart breaks for those that are trying to better themselves and their families. Those that are struggling to make ends meet and now have this fear that they can’t even go outside.

    As a Christ follower, my heart aches for them and their struggles, I’ve learned to follow what the bible teaches abt loving thy neighbor and helping others…

    Am I in agreement w/ this ‘new’ law…only for those that are doing wrong here.

  23. Mike Gillespie

    If someone decides to move into your back yard, and otherwise does no harm, you think he should be able to stay?

    If they here illegally, they are doing wrong here.

  24. Brian,
    Thank you for taking a fair and balanced look at this issue.
    I understand where you are coming from but there are a few things that need to be clarified.

    SB 1070 is not nor was it ever intended to be the fix for the immigration problem. It is simply enforcing laws that have not been enforced.

    I was around in 86 when we had the last immigration reform, we made thousands of people citizens. If you know people that have been here illegally for decades, they likely already had a chance to become legal and decided not to. Now that they are being held responsible for their decisions, the evil government is to blame.
    WE had an amnesty plan, yet did not close the border. This have a unrealistic hope to people in other countries that the US would just openly accept illegal immigrants. Many in the US will not be fooled again. We need to close the borders before any talk of amnesty can happen.

    This is not a Mexico thing.
    Yes we have more Mexican immigrants here than from other countries, however there are people here illegally from Canada, Asia and many other countries. People that come here illegally are part of the reason that it takes so long to come in legally.

    New Mexico is the only state that does not require you to provide citizenship papers or proof of immigration in order to get a drivers license. SB1070 only allows officers to check immigration when they already have been in contact with you for a different reason, and there is a reasonable suspicion that some one may be here illegally.

    If the person hands over a valid drivers license, that is pretty much the end of the story.

    We have people from all over the world who go through the legal process to become US citizens. The US government knows that we can not just fling the doors open and support the whole world so they regulate who and how many people can come in every year. When we have 7000 people crossing the border illegally that is 7000 less that come come in legally. Not only are the illegal immigrants breaking the law but they are cutting in line before the people that want to come in legally.

    I mentioned the drivers license as ID before and so I wish another issue. People come here illegally then they can drive legally so they steal someones identity and/or they make a fake drivers license. They cant purchase auto insurance with a fake ID so they drive without insurance. I know a person from Russia that was here on a Visa, it expired while she was trying to become a citizen. She was worried and had several people try to hook her up with a fake name and papers, she refused. She is now a US citizen and going to law school. The system works if you give it time and don’t try to go around it.

    I bring this up to demonstrate that people need to be responsible for their decisions.
    If you break the law and then break three more laws to cover it up then it is not our fault that you are held accountable for your actions.

    I have a friend that was attending Cornerstone, He found Christ and gave up the drugs and booze. 3 years later he was arrested for crimes he committed before he found Christ.
    He broke the law, He stood up and confessed, he went to jail, and his wife left him. He went to jail but still reads his bible everyday, he witnesses to others to bring them to Christ.
    I admire him for being honest and admitting to his crimes and taking the punishment.
    I believe God will reward him for his actions as well.

    I agree that we need reform but we need to take steps before that can happen. This is not anyone’s official plan, this is just my opinion of how to address the problems we have.

    Step 1&2 Close the borders and send people caught doing crimes back to their home country.

    Stating we can’t close the borders until we have immigration reform is kind of like saying we cant lock the doors of our homes until we know what we are going to do with intruders.

    For people that have no criminal history, they can apply for citizenship. We can create a couple different paths, one for people who were brought here as children and know this as home and one for people that knowingly decided to break the law. (Obviously the children could get fast tracked)

    Fines will need to be implemented because there needs to be a penalty for breaking the law, however those fines could be paid over time.

    Step 3
    All people here illegally would have to apply for citizenship immediately. If you were stopped for some other reason and SB1070 landed you in jail, your could be released instead of deported if you were registered as applying for citizenship.

    This would be a temporary program where all illegals would need to be registered in the next year and they would have 5 years to get their citizenship.

    Step 4
    If they did not get their citizenship in that time they would have to prove it was the fault of the US government or they would have to go back to their country till they were able to get citizenship.

    I know it sounds harsh but we are responsible for our actions, we are commended to follow laws, we are told to confess our sins and if we have sinned against a brother to go to him and ask his forgiveness.
    I am seeing way too many illegals that are not taking responsibility and not asking for forgiveness.

    As Christians I feel it is our job to look after their spiritual well being and help where we can. We have several missions that work in Mexico as well as other countries. We could also set up a mission that helps people through the immigration process. We could work together to assist whit making sure that when they applied for citizenship they knew exactly what paperwork was needed and how to get it. We can love thy neighbor and take care of the orphans with out sending a message that it is OK to break the law.

    OK I will get off my soap box now.

  25. obligated to let 5 billion people come to the U.S. Why do we feel obligated to let 14 million come from Mexico?(Pick your number of choice. Either way it’s a lot). If the U.S. had a history of doing nothing to help others in need, this may be different. We aren’t perfect, but we have always helped the world. And we continue to

  26. This is certainly a huge topic in our country today. If you agree or disagree is dependent on where you come from and if you know someone around you who is illegal and care about that person. Breaking the law, and how the word tells us to abide by the law is something important, but beyond the law which we live and abide is the word LOVE. America has forgotten the true meaning of this word and only remembers when it is convenient.

    Speaking in regards to this SB1070 law, I think people wouldn’t have a problem if it would apply to everyone across the board. I am a citizen and I am hispanic and would feel very bad for someone to ask me if I was legal in this country and probably feel worst if I know I know they are PRIMARILY asking those who are my skin color or looking type. Now, maybe it would be a different situation if EVERYONE including US citizens, white, black, red and yellow would be asked for their status. Maybe we ALL should carry our US passports everyday now, no matter if we speak english or not.

    I hear many people say that they are not targeting hispanic looking people. How is that? when the majority of people undocumented are from mexico. Wouldn’t that be the target? This just raises a flag there straight off the bat, dont’ you think? How about this… Arizona in a budget crisis? With this law, many lawsuits can take place putting Arizona in a worst situation.

    How would you feel if you found out that your ancestors who came from europe and other countries were being asked for their status at that moment? and if their status was not correct, they would be sent back. If that would’ve been the case, most of us would not be here today. How about if we switch the roles around for a year and ask everyone who looks white and coming from Europe for their status? would you feel discriminated if you were from there? It would totally be unfair right. Well, in this very tone.. just as the native americans didn’t discriminate our ancestors, we should do the same. Yes, the word talks about the law, but like I said before the word LOVE goes beyond the law and the golden rule in HIS word is: “do unto others as you want other to do to you”.

    Brian, thanks for posting this, I think your this posting you added to your blog is GREAT!

    • “I hear many people say that they are not targeting hispanic looking people. How is that? when the majority of people undocumented are from mexico. Wouldn’t that be the target?”

      Werner, nothing in SB 1070 mentions race or whom officers may inquire based on looks. Equal treatment of the law is not the same thing as equal outcome of the law. If there are more people committing the crime from a certain race then statistics are going to be higher for arrests. It doesn’t mean the law is unfair, just that more people from that group are committing, and being caught, for those crimes.

      Article 8 section B of the bill:


      Only after a “lawful contact” and if the officer has reason to believe a persons immigration status is in question. An officer cannot go to anyone and demand papers for no reasons. That person must already have a reason to have contact with the officer AND unable to produce ID.

      What about the drug smugglers and illegal human traffickers which bring people into this country to commit crimes? What about the property owners along the boarder who’s property is being trespassed on? How do we handle our Tort law when an illegal has no assets to pay compensation to their victims of negligence?

      I want to love my neighbor as well but God also gave Moses the Law and told him how to settle differences. We live in a fallen world with sinful people; God gave us the rule of Law so we could live peacefully with one another. If people want open immigration, like in the 1900’s, then change the Federal code. Not respecting the laws of this country is selfish and unloving towards those citizens that do obey. Proponents for immigration reform would get a lot more sympathy if there weren’t so many illegals taking advantage of the current system.

  27. Werner (again)

    My country, the United States of America which is one of the most powerful country in the world was founded by immigrants with values, honesty and principle. We are all children of immigrants except if you are native american.

    Speaking of children, I heard on the news some days ago regarding some arizonan’s wanting to deny citizenship to children born in arizona from undocumented parents. How sad is this! Look where we have come to…. children are innocent and they have no voice. We should stand on the side of children no matter what, if we do not stand for them who will? Arizona, we must Love and God is calling us to Love and offer a hand to those who are in need. I understand that there is bad people, drugs and violence. The truth is, all ethnicities have this same problem and as a believer, we need to make a difference and make this world a better place to live.

    Everyone has good input, but I believe we should stand on God’s side and HIS point of view of how things should be handled.

  28. samantha owens

    Personal opinions aside, it is most important to obey the Word of God.

    Romans 13:1-7- we are to obey the laws of the land, anyone breaking the law is ultimately disrespecting God.


    Hebrews 13:3 Remember those in chains as if you were their fellow prisoners, and those who are mistreated as if you yourselves were suffering.

    James 2:3 If you really keep the royal law found in Scripture, “Love your neighbor as yourself,” you are doing right.

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