Most discussions on immigration center on ideology, economics, or race. How do we bring a biblical worldview perspective to this ongoing debate? The National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference has been addressing these issues for many years and their Vice President Rev. Tony Suarez joins us to talk immigration, the church, and the Bible.
First, what is the basic concern? Tony describes the “alarming” situation at the U.S.-Mexican border. With 50-60,000 children being displaced, it’s a “humanitarian crisis.” Families are being separated as parents send their children over the border, or cross over themselves in an effort to find work. “We believe it’s the heart of Christ to care for others. As a Christian and an American – we have to speak from both perspectives – the message of hospitality and welcoming is about as American as it comes. We always have welcomed the stranger into this land and we’re called to do that in our neighborhood and our churches.”
What does this mean for our communities? Tony says it’s not a matter of whether or not we should reform the process; there needs to be a safe process for those who come to America to become citizens. For those who are here illegally, “common-sense immigration reform” would create a way for them to learn the language of the land and go through the citizenship process. We can’t afford to ignore this growing segment of the American church.
Reverend Suarez offers his thoughts on the big picture.
“The last thing we need is to continue to segregate the church. I want to see unity in the body of Christ. This immigration issue to me is a spiritual issue. Open the door and welcome the stranger; when you have your potluck dinner, invite other ethnic groups and add some tamales or rice and beans. Just build community and be open to seeing the humanity in that person whether or not you understand their culture.”