My Take: Christians Should Keep The Dream Act Alive
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Carlos Campo, Special to CNN
As we hear the (ominous for some, joyous for others) sound of the door slamming shut on the Dream Act, Christians in America are left to wonder if this is a missed opportunity or the exercise of justice.
Not all share my opinion that the Dream Act was not window dressing for a hidden amnesty agenda, but a reasonable step in confronting the complex issue of how best to deal with the millions of undocumented immigrants who now call America home.
The Rev. Samuel Rodriguez, one of the most articulate and compassionate Christian voices for Latinos in America, has stressed that Christians must embrace “a solution that emphasizes assimilation and justice.”
Others, like Alan F. H. Wisdom, vice president of the Institute on Religion and Democracy, argue: “Alongside the biblical teachings about hospitality to strangers also stand the teachings about the rule of law.”
Surely, Portia’s famous lines from Shakespeare’s "The Merchant of Venice" come to mind, as she declares that mercy “is an attribute to God Himself,” and further cautions Shylock to:
that, in the course of justice, none of us
should see salvation. We do pray for mercy;
and that same prayer doth teach us all to render
the deeds of mercy.
Of course — as many others have pointed out — Portia seems to forget her very words when she later joins others to lash out at Shylock, who responds to their attack with:
I am a Jew. Hath not a Jew eyes?
Hath not a Jew hands, organs, dimensions,
senses, affections, passions?
fed with the same food, hurt with the same weapons,
subject to the same diseases, healed by the same means,
warmed and cooled by the same winter and summer,
as a Christian is?
If you prick us, do we not bleed?
If you tickle us, do we not laugh?
If you poison us, do we not die?
We cannot read these lines and not be tempted to rephrase the speech and ask, “Hath not the undocumented eyes?” Will they not “bleed?”
America bears some responsibility for the immigration issue we now face. We did not (and still do not, in my mind) properly secure our borders. In fact, from the ‘70s through the ‘90s, we gladly allowed immigrants — especially from Mexico — to flood into our country to help deal with labor shortages.
These immigrants helped reduce the costs on goods from strawberries to new housing, and became the backbone of our service industry. Most statistics indicate that they were more law-abiding than the average citizen (perhaps because they feared deportation) and attended church more regularly as well. As a negative, unintended consequence, they may have unduly taxed our educational and medical systems.
Many young undocumented immigrants bear no responsibility for entering our country illegally. Before we visit the “sins of the fathers” on these young men and women, might we consider a better way? They know no other country; they pledge allegiance alongside their American brothers and sisters day after day in our classrooms, bless our God in our churches, desire to serve in the military and give their lives as they have given their hearts to this great country, whose welcoming freedom still rings to all those who dream as we do.
Many of us have seen the harrowing sign on San Diego’s 405 freeway: Bold letters warn drivers, “CAUTION,” and just below those letters we see a family of three. The father leads them into danger, head down, determined. The mother follows, also leaning forward in full flight, clutching the arm of a young girl, her pony tail streaming behind her, feet barely touching the ground. It is she, that young girl, and so many like her, who were brought here by determined, sometimes desperate parents.
Should she not be able to dream? To serve?
I know my descriptions have idealized some of the undocumented people living in the U.S., but we serve a God who taught us to pray, “Forgive those who trespass against us.” As Christians, is this the trespass that we simply will not forgive?
The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of Carlos Campo.