Immigration- We Need a Different Approach

Immigration- We Need a Different Approach June 30, 2018

We used to live in Philadelphia. I loved our neighbors from so many different countries. I learned a lot from them. The greatest lesson was that we weren’t very different from each other. I learned we usually shared many of the same values.  No matter your religion or nationality, we want friends and to have good family relationships. Everyone wants a sense of purpose and to be able to grow and learn. Because of these similarities this current demonizing of certain groups of people has me worried.


Bigotry has many faces


Growing up I was the only Mormon in my school. Because of that I learned that bigotry is not only pointed at ethnic minorities. Now, I have not faced anything like the minorities of history. I was never a slave, and the fact that human beings were once treated that way sickens me. Those were serious trials that deserve recognition. And I am not making light of their struggles.


But I can’t help but wonder if the current immigration situation is partly because of bigotry. Are we trying to see these people as people, or as “them”? Are we being honest with ourselves about right VS wrong, or are we justifying what is happening because “they deserve it”? Because they are different.


I will never forget the day I wanted to play with a girl from school who lived down the road. I walked to her house, only to be met at the front door by her mother. She didn’t want me playing with her daughter because I was different…because I am white. It was an awful feeling. And it gave me a brief glimpse into how awful it is to not be seen for yourself, but to be seen as “them”.


Because of these and other experiences, I have always tried to see the people behind the labels.  I try to include people. I’m not perfect, but I am grateful for friends of different colors, sexual orientations, and denominations. They are great people, and they teach me so much. But this current climate has created such a deep rift in our country. Politics seems to be FAR more dangerous than any other difference I have ever faced in my life!


Politics is a mine field


Last week I shared my thoughts on the current immigration situation only to be stomped on by the combat boot of social media. I was shocked! Everyone feels very strongly that their point of view is the RIGHT point of view. And that everyone else is off their rocker. (That is southern slang for wrong.)


Despite my different, middle of the road opinion that day, I was blasted by both sides because I hadn’t firmly joined one team or the other. So today I am trying again to make people see reason.


I’m not going to tell you what I posted that had so many haters. I am simply going to ask you a question. If things that are going on right now were pointed at you, how would you feel? Would it change things for you? Would you be offended, scared, ready to fight? Do you feel the things being said about certain groups, if that group included you, was fair? Would you see things as black and white as you are seeing them right now? Or would you ask for mercy, for fairness?


People fight for their way


Having spent my growing up years as the only Mormon in school in the Bible belt, I can tell you that I often felt that Baptists and I had more in common than we had differences. And I feel the same is happening with our immigrants. They want a better life for their families, just like we do. We don’t have to lock them out to guarantee happiness for ourselves. Peace is not a limited commodity.


So I have to ask you, are you being fair to the people involved in this latest political issue? Would you want to be targeted because of who you work for? Would you want to be torn from your family members because you crossed a border? Are we all really so different?


I am deeply disappointed in a certain congresswoman who was encouraging violence just this week. That is NOT how leaders behave. People, come on! This is the greatest country in history. Everyone is equal, and there is no excuse for the division that has erupted recently.


It’s time we looked in the mirror


It’s time we stood back and really looked at who we are becoming. Because I can promise you that God is not happy with either side of this issue right now.  We need to make a course correction. And we all need to make some hard decisions… to do the human thing, to treat people with love and compassion. You can stand up and make a difference. This isn’t a political question, it’s a question of humanity.


Let us stop letting fear lead us down dark roads we will regret later. Let us make compassionate decisions and create policies that make sense. Let’s think outside the box, get rid of the red tape and loopholes that make current policies such a nightmare. Even becoming a citizen legally takes years and a lot of effort. I’ve seen it first hand. The struggle is real.


Immigration has been an issue for too long. We need to do something different. These are people, not animals. They are like you and me. Not many generations ago every family here was an immigrant. I remember stories about nearly every group being treated badly. But we can change how things are in the future. If we can love our neighbor, who is our exact opposite in every way, then we can love them too. We can be better than those who came before us. We can work together, and become the nation we were meant to be.


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  • Earl Chantrill

    The question is, what is the law and are the people whose children are being separated from them trying to enter the United States legally? We have legal ways for people to enter the country, and if they do so, there is no problem with their being separated from their children. It simply doesn’t happen. There are approximately seven billion people in the world, and the majority of them have a standard of living that is significantly lower than the average American’s. We don’t have resources to accommodate them all. That is why there are restrictions on immigration. Bigotry is not the issue; economics and culture are. I personally have no problem with people entering the country legally. My wife is an immigrant who came here legally.

  • Abby Christianson

    I don’t have a problem with legal immigrants either. And I don’t approve of entering any country illegally. I am simply very worried that the innocent ones are the ones who are suffering while we are trying to fix a flaw in the system. And I want people to think of lasting solutions that make sense.

  • Thomas Johnson

    Abby, what is your solution? Is it to simply open our borders to everyone who wants to come here?

  • Abby Christianson

    That’s a good question. No, I don’t think we should just open the borders. I’m aware that our country is not equipped to take in everyone who wants to come. I heard a great TED talk that was about how we should encourage other countries to keep their best and brightest to help make life better where they are. I’m also aware that legal immigration takes years. But I also don’t understand why we can’t alter the current process (I know there is a whole procedure tree that officials follow) to turn people away at the border instead of allowing them in only to jail them. I’m objecting to the incarceration of children. It’s such a complicated issue.

  • Widuran

    Legal immigration is fine. Illegal is not.