Lawlessness is not compassion

Weak border policies harm vulnerable people.

Birds-eye+view.

Moriah Chiang

Bird’s-eye view.

Addie Michaelian, Guest Writer

 Thousands of Haitian asylum-seekers gathered near the U.S. Texas border, placing more pressure on an already overcrowded and understaffed system. Footage of migrants crossing the Rio Grande testified to the absolute chaos of the unfolding humanitarian crisis. As many as 15,000 migrants camped under the bridge that connects Del Rio, Texas with Mexico. Several passed out from dehydration and lack of food. The migrants hoped to request asylum once they reached the U.S.

After footage circulated of the chaos and the use of horses at the Texas border, several Christians on my feed posted scathing reviews of the border patrol in the name of humanity and compassion. Their comments emphasized God’s concern for the sojourner, and painted the border patrol’s fruitless attempts to maintain order as inhumane, unjust and even racist (Exodus 3:9). 

A prayer for the situation in a Westmont chapel service on Sep. 24 followed a similar definition of compassion. It focused on inhumane treatment toward migrants by border patrol and highlighted God’s heart for the migrant. 

God does have a heart for the foreigner, the sojourner and the refugee (Leviticus 19:34). He calls his people Israel to act with justice and compassion toward these people. The church is called to care for the least of these by extending God’s compassion to the foreigner. 

However, compassion does not look like encouraging migrants to put themselves into the hands of traffickers because they believe they can enter the country illegally. Human smugglers pocket 14 million dollars a day from services that often leave women raped and children abandoned. Concern for the immigrant does not look like incentivizing lawlessness and chaos. Compassion does not look like contributing to an environment that endangers children and allows the narcotics trade to flourish. Care for the foreigner does not look like demonizing border patrol agents for doing their job while ignoring the broader crisis that makes their job so difficult. 

The southern border has become a nearly constant crisis. The past three months witnessed about 532,225 border jumpers who were stopped at the U.S.-Mexico boundary, and a marked increase in unaccompanied children. The Haitan situation is only the latest act in an ongoing drama. Migrants who make this journey often encounter sexual assault as well as a lack of food and water. Many collapse from exhaustion or drown in rising rivers. Under-resourced facilities are unable to care for those who finally do make it, and an understaffed border patrol is left scrambling. And the Biden administration’s policies that incentivize illegal immigration have contributed to the chaos. For example, Biden discarded President Trump’s “Remain in Mexico” program that required asylum seekers from Central America to stay in Mexico during their cases. This policy discouraged migrants and caravans because they knew they could not simply enter the country and disappear. 

Those who want to effectively care for the immigrant must advocate for clear, compassionate policies that both protect the nation and welcome the stranger. True compassion recognizes the compelling factors, like instability and economic depression, that compel people to flee. On the other hand, it does not incentivize illegal immigration and the chaos, danger and corruption that accompany it. Compassion does not just welcome the sojourner; it addresses the misleading policies that encourage migrants to begin a dangerous journey with the false expectation of claiming asylum. 

Sanctioning lawlessness by cultivating a disrespect for immigration law and those who enforce it is not compassion. It endangers the very people it claims to care for and fails to address the policies and overwhelmed system at the root of the chaos. 

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Opinions expressed in letters and other editorials, unless otherwise stated, are those of the writers and not of The Horizon staff or the college collectively.

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