I can’t believe I have to write this. It’s a statement so simplistic and obvious, I shouldn’t have to spell it out. But apparently I do.
As reports emerge of the horrific human rights abuses carried out by government agents towards refugee families seeking asylum, of children torn from their parents and placed in cages, of nursing infants stolen from their mothers, people of good will of all ideological orientations are speaking out.
And we’re being shouted down – by Christians and pro-lifers. I’ve been making this issue the main focus for the New Pro Life Movement, for the past few days, and people who claim the pro-life label have been responding with the mantra “they broke the law.”
Considering the fact that the old pro life movement devotes all its energies towards opposition to our laws that permit abortion, the cognitive dissonance is staggering. Considering that these same people are regularly up in arms against the legalization of gay marriage, and claim to oppose “the establishment,” their rush to defend the laws in this case makes me wonder just how pro life they actually are. And many of them, very recently, were demanding a “statement” from me on the Alfie Evans case. I’m inclined to demand of them: where’s your moral concern for parental rights now? Are parental rights only valued in the case of white western families? Or, perhaps, only as an excuse to oppose universal health care?
It’s easy for me right now to get diverted into raging against the hypocrisy of the Trump-supporting pro-lifers who applaud any evil thing he does, to the neglect of genuine ethics.
But raging against them is not the real point. The point is that families are being torn apart, children stolen from their parents. And no, this was not happening during the Obama regime (though his record on immigration was not especially humanitarian, it was not deliberately cruel). But even if it was, that’s not the point either. It’s on our radar now. It’s happening now, but the program is still in its early stages, and we have a chance to stop it, if we can band together and keep our focus on love for and protection of life.
It doesn’t matter if they are coming here illegally or not. Legality is not morality. The history of humanity is a history of immoral laws. We’ve had laws allowing marital rape, laws permitting slavery, laws that would condemn a hungry child to imprisonment for stealing bread, laws defending the “right” of prima nocte, laws segregating people of color from privileged society, laws allowing the theft of land from families.
And even if there is a moral value in securing our borders, the right to life is more fundamental than the authority of a nation to define itself. Moreover, many of these families are coming not as illegal immigrants, but as legal asylum seekers.
It is probably impossible for most of us to imagine the circumstances they must be fleeing, in order to go through the arduous and dangerous process of entering our increasingly hostile nation, but maybe it would be helpful for us all to pause and think about just what we would be willing to do to protect our families.
Imagine the exhaustion and fear, the risks taken in the long journey towards hope. And now imagine that your children have been stolen from you. You don’t know where they are, or what’s happening to them, or if they are even alive. How can you sleep at night?
How can any of us sleep at night?
For those of us who are Christians, we should keep in mind that the mandate to help the stranger and protect the refugee is central to the Gospel. It’s no surprise that the Trump regime is making a mockery of Christianity and using scripture to defend their crimes against humanity. It’s no surprise that their sycophants are defending them. But there are many, many more of us who oppose this and seek to defend life and the common good. We need to work together to stop this before it is too late – before we become an item of history, on which future generations will look back, asking “how did we let this happen?”
image credit: https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:CBP_Processing_Unaccompanied_Children_(15020197208).jpg