As I reported yesterday, the USCCB wasted no time condemning President Trump’s executive order to go ahead with the border wall, prisons and deportations he’d promised during the election.
What they didn’t mention was a paragraph included in that order, which has just now come to my attention. Here it is:
To better inform the public regarding the public safety threats associated with sanctuary jurisdictions, the secretary shall utilize the Declined Detainer Outcome Report or its equivalent and, on a weekly basis, make public a comprehensive list of criminal actions committed by aliens and any jurisdiction that ignored or otherwise failed to honor any detainers with respect to such aliens.
And I think this puts to rest any doubts whether this executive order is meant for our safety or simply scapegoating immigrants. He’s not asking for comprehensive reports to the public about crime rates overall, something we could use to keep well informed and participate in government responsibly by voting for safe laws. He’s demanding that the government publish a list of crimes committed by a certain portion of the population, ignoring all others. He wants to draw our attention to the wrongdoings of another, to make us scared of that other.
And who is the other?
Not illegal migrants; not people who, for whatever reason, came to this country against our immigration laws. That would be bad enough. But they are not the people Trump’s order is making us afraid of. The order just says “a comprehensive list of criminal actions committed by aliens.” Not “illegal aliens” or “undocumented aliens,” aliens. Foreign people living among us.
This could just be a grotesque typo, of course; I can believe that. He might have meant to say “illegal aliens.” But on its face, it sure looks like a very deliberate scapegoating of any and all foreigners. Mary Pezzulo from Ohio and John Smith from Nebraska and Jane Doe from Kentucky aren’t going to have their misdeeds drawn to the nation’s attention each and every week. José Luis from Mexico is. Gabriella from Guatemala is. Omar from Pakistan is. Whether they’re here legally or not. That is what the executive order says. And even if it’s only applied to illegal aliens in practice, it’s still picking one group of the population for public shame on a regular basis, to make us afraid of them.
Not to seem alarmist, but we need to understand: this is how a totalitarian government works. They draw attention to a scapegoat as the cause of the country’s problems, and blame every misfortune on them. They pretend to be keeping the citizens safe by persecuting the scapegoats more and more viciously. It’s a sleight of hand. It’s a trick to keep your attention on the scapegoat instead of what’s happening to you. It’s a grave injustice against the people who have been scapegoated and it’s a grave injustice against everyone else as well. Hitler scapegoated the Jews, the Romani, the Slavs and others. Stalin scapegoated the kulaks and many others.
Are we a totalitarian state? No, thankfully. Not yet. But we’re not immune to becoming one, and this is how it starts. A leader shines the spotlight on the crimes of one group. He tries to make us more afraid of that group, and then promises to save us from the threat. More and more attention is drawn to anything wrong or supposedly wrong with that group. Every evil, from job loss and healthcare costs to rape and gangs, is blamed on that group. The group is dehumanized until anything we can think to do to them is considered necessary for our safety.
We, as Christians, cannot tolerate that. We can’t give in to the hype, no matter how hard the government tries to make us. God was very clear on this point:
When a foreigner resides among you in your land, do not mistreat them. The foreigner residing among you must be treated as your native-born. Love them as yourself, for you were foreigners in Egypt. I am the Lord your God.
He, not Donald Trump or the Republican Party or the United States, is the Lord our God. We must obey our God rather than men. Whenever we see propaganda scapegoating a foreigner, it is our duty as a Christian not only to disbelieve it, but to speak out against it. It is our duty to stand up on behalf of foreigners and treat them as our native-born. It is our duty to protect them from discrimination and scapegoating.
This godless and cowardly fear-mongering must be met with adamant resistance– by every American, and Christians most of all.
(image via Pixabay)