This essay is a starting point for discussion about a God-centered approach to immigration policy, based upon full appreciation of both the benefits and risks of accepting immigrants into our nation.
The Immigration Acts of 2016 and 2019 have severely impacted our town of Saco, Maine and neighboring Kennebunkport. Our local high school, facing a declining student population, benefited from the $1.2 million per annum in tuition from 40 students from China each year. In 2016 when J1 visas were frozen, no foreign students could attend. The school had to lay off five teachers.
Similar impacts have been experienced at “Funtown,” our popular amusement park, and at luxury Inns in nearby Kennebunkport. Both have faced severe workforce shortages due to the 2018 cap on H2B (short-term non-immigrant) visas.
Statewide, as of 2018, there were 47,000 immigrants comprising 4% of the population in Maine. Africans from Somalia, Sudan, and Congo have been placed in Portland by immigration services. Forty languages are spoken in the schools in Portland.
The Africans are filling positions in healthcare in group homes that few local people will fill. Because I work in that field, I have come to know many immigrants. The Africans apply skills in housekeeping and personal care, inherited, partly, from work in past colonial economies. They possess traditional African values and values from Christian and Muslim backgrounds that employers in the service industries regard as assets.
Of course, along with these benefits, there are serious negative impacts to consider, and the state of Maine is far from the only locale affected.
There are legitimate concerns throughout the United States about crime, drug trafficking, violence, and human trafficking — especially around the nation’s southern border. In many areas, massive immigration has caused strains on social services such as schools and health care.
And finally, there are dramatic humanitarian issues arising at border crossings. CNN reported that during the month of February there was an influx of almost 100,000 illegal refugees at our nation’s southern border. In early March, US Customs and Border Control reported 4,200 unaccompanied children (minor) illegal refugees in detention.
Questions to Consider
Is there a framework of shared values and priorities that can be applied in rethinking our basic approach to immigration policy that might achieve better outcomes for all parties?
What are the perspectives of a parental God about the migration from the south with families fleeing for safety and prosperity on the one hand, and potential increase in criminal activity on the other?
If God were to write immigration policy considering all its dimensions, what might the policy look like?
Might immigration pressures at the borders of European and American Christian Democracies correspond to some extent to reparation obligations from the colonial era?
Reverend Moon spoke about the world’s major cultural spheres merging into one centering on the Christian ethic. How do growing immigration trends play into that vision?
Please share your thoughts below.