The Weekly Round-Up
The Weekly Round-Up
Welcome to The Briefing newsletter by Jason Clarke and Mitchell Dorris. Mitchell is the Faith and Politics writer for SEEK and will be weighing in on the latest issues relating to refugees and immigration as it relates to the intersection of national policy and faith. This week we are thinking about the asylum directive that President Trump signed and the impacts it will have on the incoming migrant caravan. We are also thinking through the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals decision regarding the cancellation of Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA). Lastly, we talk about why, as followers of Christ, we should care about these issues.
According to the Wall Street Journal, the President will sign a directive to revamp the U.S. asylum process. The directive is expected to be an executive order that will impact those apprehended at the border as well as migrants fleeing their home country seeking asylum status. Before the directive went into place, someone seeking asylum had up to a year to request asylum, regardless of how they got into the country. Now those seeking asylum will be required to go to a port of entry at the border to make the claim for asylum. This new order would also ban anyone who has previously entered the country illegally from seeking asylum. Those who helped draft the directive claim it is only temporary. That being said, a timeline has not yet been specified. The directive is intended to keep migrants who are seized at the border “in detention until their legal cases are heard, rather than allow them to be released into the U.S. to await a hearing.” With Democrats winning the house on Tuesday night, it is largely expected that immigration will be a continuous battle in Congress.
Last Thursday the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals, based in San Fransisco, put a stop to the Trump administration’s plan to cancel DACA. DACA is an Obama era program created to provide benefits for immigrants who were brought to this country illegally, but by no choice of their own because they were young children who had no say in their parent’s choices to do so. The court’s decision, which can be read here, says those filing suit against the administration’s choice to end the program “are likely to succeed on their claim that the rescission of DACA—at least as justified on this record—is arbitrary, capricious, or otherwise not in accordance with the law.” For the time being, the Ninth Circuit court has paused the Department of Homeland Security’s attempt to end DACA. We will keep you updated as the story unfolds.
As Christians thinking through this issue we would like to highlight that according to Scripture every human has inherent dignity given to them by God. We see this in Genesis 1:26 where it says, “So God created man in his own image.” We are all made in the image of God and it is through that that we have our worth and dignity. There have been claims attacking the motivations behind the migrants in the caravan and we would be wrong to say we know the motivations of every single person. It is virtually impossible for one individual to know why each migrant is heading to the border. There might be people who are in the caravan for the wrong reasons. We live in a broken world where sin impacts our lives every day. That being said, we do not believe it is fair to characterize every single person making the long march from Honduras to the United States as doing so for the wrong reasons.
To argue this using a simple analogy: We know that there are millions of drivers on US highways every day. The majority of drivers have honest intentions. Even so, we know that there are perhaps thousands of people who will use their car to make illegal choices. Whether it be going beyond the speed limit or as a getaway car for a bank robbery. And in order to plan for such events, we would find it incredibly burdensome if the police were to block every highway entrance in order to inspect for criminals. It would be not only time and cost intensive but would demand massive amounts of resources and would further distract law enforcement from their current responsibilities. Instead of such a strategy, law enforcement stations patrol cars for general needs of the citizenry while also being on the watch for emergencies. While knowing that criminals are always looking to exploit the systems that allow the rest of us to live normal lives, law enforcement has special protocol and special agencies to handle said activities. This said, the average person along with law enforcement do not question whether or not any given driver is on the highway for “the wrong reasons.” So it is with those in the migrant caravan. Unless we resign ourselves to the lens of conspiracy we should refocus our reasoning on simply that: what seems reasonable. And in this instance, it is more than clear that those coming from Honduras, El Salvador, and Guatemala have legitimate claims of needing the safety and protection that our great nation and communities can provide.
This same analogy applies to immigration, particularly the current Zero Tolerance policy that is still in existence and it also applies to the policy of putting every immigrant who will claim asylum into a holding cell (jail) until their case is heard by a judge. The emotional stress of leaving one’s country out of duress, walking for months without shelter and being completely vulnerable to those who would take advantage of them is hard to imagine. At the end of this difficult journey, they only reach the border to be placed in a jail indefinitely, all because they are reasonably seeking a safe place to live. This is an unnecessary and burdensome action that is simply meant as a deterrent rather than a “fix” to the US immigration system.
Honduras, Guatemala and El Salvador are all experiencing an incredibly dangerous and difficult time. It is through understanding this that we should begin to show compassion towards people simply seeking safety and refuge. If for nothing else then to show them the love of the Gospel and Jesus Christ.
In regards to DACA and the biblical understanding of its implications, we should remember the morality of the issue. We believe it to be unjust and unfair for the government to punish almost 800,000 people who were brought to this country without having any say in the matter. Many know no other home other than the United States. On top of this, the United States government should always work to support and uphold families. Families are something God has made a foundational part of any society and children are a blessing from him. The government should not actively break these families apart. Any kind of broken family not only puts women and children at risk but also increases the chance of poverty and crime. Any just system of laws should always have human flourishing in mind. We believe the rescission of DACA to be a step back from maintaining human flourishing.