Immigration – a different view

July 1, 2019 · Print This Article

The media last week showed pictures of the young man from San Salvador who died in the Rio Grande, along with his two or four-year-old daughter. (Age depending on which media source you read or watched.)

It was a shocking picture and the various talking heads commenting tended to blame President Trump and his tough immigration policy. It’s worth observing, however, that while that death made the news, many other young people have also died trying to cross from Mexico to America as illegal immigrants.

But before we join the chorus of criticism, let’s remember that immigrants are also drowning in the Mediterranean and English Channel. Any death is a tragedy but when these people have undergone a long arduous journey to try and find a better life for themselves and their families, it seems especially hard.

So who is to blame? Some might say it is the fault of the immigrants themselves who have willingly taken a gamble in the hope of a better life for the future. But who are we to judge when many of this number are literally fleeing for their lives from persecution, war, famine or disease? Then there are the governments of those countries the immigrants are fleeing – don’t they have to accept some responsibility for their own citizens? Except that in some of these examples, the government is at war with its own citizens.

A separate issue to consider is the question of how many immigrants we can absorb? Our hearts go out to people struggling against the odds to achieve a better life. But isn’t it acceptable to have policies that control the numbers of legal immigrants and, at the same time, aim to control illegal ones?

A Christian response is to weep for all these people, whether alive or dead, who are forced to leave their own countries and travel so far in such difficult circumstances.

Many churches have programmes to welcome and help immigrants, whether legal or illegal and that surely is a good thing to do.

I don’t know the solution to this difficult problem, but perhaps we should thank God that, by accident of birth, we already live in a relatively free and prosperous society. Perhaps instead of moaning about all we think is wrong with the UK, we should count our blessings to be living here and ask ourselves why we are so attractive to immigrants.

My prayer is that God will show our governments, and the governments of the countries the immigrants are trying to leave, a better way to handle this more and more common 21st century problem.

Keith Hartrick.

[Keith is a retired Managing Director and the church leader of our Leeds congregation, Grace Communion International. He is editor of Richard’s blogs.]

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