Sunday, January 29, 2017

Go and Bring Them In

I watched this movie last night so it's on my mind.
Some of my worst fears about the Trump presidency are beginning to materialize. 

A ban of immigrants from seven Muslim-majority countries and the construction of a wall on the U.S.-Mexico border are, to be fair, not quite as bad as a ban on all Muslims and mass deportations of illegal immigrants, the two issues that were deal breakers for me and led me to vote against Trump in November. (Hopefully this isn't just a preview of coming attractions.) 

But I'm vigorously opposed to both measures for the same reasons I was opposed to the campaign proposals. Namely, they are inhumane, unnecessary, and betray the principles our nation was founded upon. 


I have never been so motivated to participate in a protest before in my life. If my wife wasn't nine months pregnant, with labor imminent, I would be at Sky Harbor today (welcoming British tourists rather than Syrian refugees, but it's the thought that counts). 

I understand the security concerns. I was in college on 9/11 and the memories of fear and rage are still fresh. I imagine that those directly affected by recent terrorist attacks across the country and around the world feel even greater urgency to protect our borders and prevent the next tragedy, and their concerns are valid and should be addressed. Also, we must acknowledge that the ideology that drives the most dangerous forms of terrorism has infected branches of Islam; ignoring this reality won't make it go away. 

But there are ways to keep our country safe without compromising our principles, which both of these proposals do. An immigration ban punishes not only would-be terrorists, but also innocent refugees and others who have waited in line, followed the rules, applied for visas and green cards, and were on their way to lawfully enter the United States of America. It breaks my heart to read some of the stories of those affected. We are causing unnecessary hardship and inconvenience on law-abiding, contributing members of our society, citizens or not.

I'm not saying that we should let everyone in all at once. I'm not against visa applications and customs declarations and vetting of immigrants. But we can do more than we're doing; certainly more than nothing. 


A wall does little to protect our border that existing fences, rivers, and a thousand miles of barren desert don't already do. All a wall does is send a signal that we're more afraid of the comparatively poorer, Spanish-speaking people to our south than the white, prosperous people to our north, where there is neither a fence nor a wall (and plenty of fresh drinking water and wild deer for sustenance while crossing the border), and where thousands of Syrian refugees may be arriving very shortly. If this is really about security, why no Canadian wall?

If we're worried about ISIS fighters coming to Mexico only to cross over the border into the U.S., a cheaper and more practical approach would be to partner with Mexican authorities in improving their border security at airports and border crossings.

I don't mean to be facetious; I am aware that there are legitimate reasons for higher security on our southern border than our northern. But anyone who has been to our southern border knows that only those fiercely determined to make it into our country could cross the impediments already in place and evade detection by the omnipresent border patrol checkpoints. The answer is not another wall.

The Risk of Compassion

For Mormons like me, the choice is simple. Our ancestors were once refugees, chased away by groups of intolerant Americans, leaving the United States for what was, at the time, part of Mexico. As one such group approached Salt Lake City, short of supplies and many dying from exposure to the cold, Brigham Young, the leader of the Church at the time, upon hearing of their condition, cut church services short and directed that the best resources be immediately put forth to go up into the mountains to rescue to the imperiled travelers. 

"Go and bring in those people now on the plains," he told the congregation. "And attend strictly to those things . . . Otherwise, your faith will be in vain. The preaching you have heard will be in vain to you, and you will sink to Hell . . ."

In response to the immigration ban, the leaders of the Church, as well as those of other faiths, have again spoken in favor of "seeking the best solutions to meet human needs and relieve suffering" of refugees.

I'm not saying that anyone who agrees with the immigration ban is in bad standing with the Church or that there are not legitimate reasons to support a temporary pause. But personally, I think the call is clear. We don't have to do much - we don't have to "Go and bring them in." We don't have to feed them, or house them, or give them medicine, though those are all good aims and I have no doubt there are plenty of Americans willing to do so. 

All I am asking is that we let them in. Whether Mexican or Muslim, refugee or scientist, they only want to come to America so they can build a better life for themselves. All they want is freedom and a chance. I'm confident that they'll gladly take care of themselves if we'll just open the gates.

P.S. See my previous post about refugees and this one about mass deportation for more of my thoughts on these subjects.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

This is why the world needs us to limit the amount of people we allow to immigrate to the US. We are hurting much more than we are helping. Facts over feelings.