Rebuttal to Reverend Jim Martin

 
“Why do people hate migrants and refugees?”
-Wow, what a great way to start and frame the discussion.

“Some conservative Christians argue that they’re breaking the law by coming across the border.”
-Well this is true, we have procedures in place for migrants to come ask for asylum into our country, but some of the asylum seekers have not followed these procedures.

Consider your own house: when a stranger comes knocking on your door, do you just automatically open your door up to let him in as a guest? No, I would think you would at least keep the door closed at first, look through your peephole, and ask what business do they have with you.

If the stranger asks for hospitality from you, you might naturally be inclined to welcome them in, more so if they came asking at your front door.

However, if they do not come at “port of entries,” that would be like if the stranger jumped across the fence into your backyard and then knocked on your glass door for you to let him in. (Side note: I am open to the possibility of having more ports of entries available, but I haven’t seen that proposal being pushed.) It would be one thing if the stranger did it out of ignorance or desperation, which is a possibility, and you could kindly ask the stranger to come to your front door instead. But jumping over the fence into your backyard should naturally raise some suspicions that should not so easily be dismissed.
 
Other things you might have in mind as you process the situation would be:
-what time of day the stranger arrived; coming at night raises more suspicion than coming at day.
-how legitimate their request is
-can you trust this person to be who they say they are and not someone trying to take advantage of your kindness
-do you have any resources to provide for yourself, family members who may be living with you, and the stranger

“Seeking asylum is a human right.” This is true. But again we have procedures in place for screening applicants and welcoming them in just as most homeowners naturally would do if a stranger comes knocking on the front door.

“The law is not the only judge of morality. There are unjust laws. Like abortion and same-sex marriage. So why are they being so selective?”
 
Yes, there are unjust laws. Laws are codified ideas. Not every idea is equally good. Some are very bad, others very good or they could have varying degrees of goodness. Since not every idea is equally good, we have every right to be selective to choose the idea that provides the best public good.
 
-Abortion: taking the life of the unborn
-Same sex marriage: governmental recognition of the civil union of individuals with same-sex attraction.
-Slavery: treating another human being as property
-Refugee laws: screening a stranger to see if their claims for asylum is authentic.
 
The topics of abortion and same sex marriage can be discussed at another time, but for now, I just want to let my readers have the take-home point that behind every law is an idea that needs to be examined, because not all of them are equally valid.

Also since the topic is on immigration/refugee laws, the idea being discussed is essentially “screening a stranger to see if their claims for naturalization and asylum are authentic, and if bringing them in at this time would be good for them and our citizens.”
I really fail to see what’s so inherently bad with this idea as opposed to slavery which meant treating your neighbor as property.
 
“Jeff Sessions and Sarah Huckabee Sanders use Bible verses and talk about things being “biblical” to defend their positions.”

This is not a necessarily bad thing to do. Abolitionists used Scripture to justify their position just as pro-slavery advocates used Scripture to justify their own. Both of them used the Bible to defend their respective positions, but their arguments were different in weight. In other words, the key thing to keep in mind is which side has stronger support for their position when you examine their arguments.

Calling something “biblical” has similar moral weight to saying something is “constitutional,” which is really just saying that something is consistent with the legal and moral thrust of an established document.


“But they must know that the whole thrust of the Old and New Testaments when it comes to migrants and refugees, is that we’re supposed to welcome them.”
This is half true, the Bible does encourage us to take risks in the way that we love, but we have every right to count the cost of such compassion.
 
Taking risks in the way that we show compassion is morally different than having an open door policy.  When a stranger comes knocking on your door and asks for hospitality, the Bible would encourage you to consider uncommon compassion by welcoming them into your home and providing them a place to stay and eat. But you have every right to consider the costs of letting them in, as already discussed above, like if you have enough resources to provide for them, how long they can stay, if they are who they really say they are, etc.
 
Open door policy, on the other hand, would undermine this thought process, because you would already be letting everyone who comes to your door in, and you have no way of knowing whether they are good or bad people. That would be reckless and dangerous to both yourself and the people who may share your home with you.

The principle I am trying to convey is behind the point Lord Jesus made when He said,
“Behold, I am sending you out as sheep in the midst of wolves, so be wise as serpents and innocent as doves.”
He says we live in a world of wolves, and there are people who will love to take advantage of our compassion, so as we strive to be as innocent as doves, we also have to be as wise (prudent) as serpents.
 
So again, taking risks with our compassion is a big moral difference than open door.
 
”So why are so many Christians still against migrants and refugees?”
This is a dishonest and unfair characterization of our position: what’s so wrong with asking to hold on and wait as we screen the people who come to our borders to see if their claims for asylum are legitimate? Open door is reckless and dangerous, closed border is cold, but a semipermeable border with screening checkpoints is sensible. The cells in your body follow the same principle, and people who advocated for gun safety had a similar thought. I do not see why we cannot apply the same to our borders. If we asked for a more streamlined and humanistic screening process, I would think most of us could agree to that, but that’s not what’s been being proposed these days.

This speaker says refugees have been demonized and dehumanized. He states the president the other day said they were infesting the country, as if they were vermin. The speaker then compares the statement to those made by the Nazis regarding Jews or by the Hutu about the Tutsi. He then compares the refugee crisis to Japanese American internment.

The speaker ends his thought with: “It is much easier to treat people as dirt if they’re seen as animals.”
-The speaker is conflating a lot of moral issues together.
-There are many false moral equivalencies being made.
Nazis treated Jews who were legal German citizens as less than human.
Japanese Americans were legal American citizens being criminalized unjustly.
Illegal immigrants/refugees are strangers, not legal citizens, that we do not have perfect knowledge of, and who we need to screen to let into our country.
 
If a stranger comes knocking at your door, and you happen to refuse to let him in, should your neighbor call you unkind for doing so? No, what if you simply did not have the resources to take care of yourself, your family and the stranger and you would all suffer together? What if you found out the stranger has a criminal record, or the stranger appeared at a time when you heard that a shooter was recently spotted in the area? I mean these are some of the considerations that need to be taken into account when we’re discussing immigration policies. There’s a time to welcome people into your home, and a time when you should not.

“I think the only solution is for people to come to know the stories of migrants and refugees.” This is not a bad solution, but it fails to address the fact that we need sensible border control. I would advocate for a border that maximizes the number of migrants and refugees that we allow into our country while minimizing the number of dangerous criminals like MS-13 members into our country. But in order for this outcome to happen, we need a comprehensive immigration reform, but since a package deal is unlikely to happen through our current Congress, we would have to accomplish comprehensive reform through single issue bills.
 
I do not doubt that some of the people coming to our borders are fleeing warfare, rape, famine, and drought. Some of them are fleeing their homelands, at great risk, to find safety for their families. Some of them are hardworking, inspiring, and faithful; but the thing is, some of them are not. Even a small minority can cause a whole lot of damage to our society. Therefore we have to have a screening immigration policy in place that maximizes public safety as we seek to show public kindness.

We do not think of immigrants or refugees as animals infesting our country, we just want sensible border control, so we can control the stream of migrants that enter our country. Just think about hosting a party. When you send out a list of invites to guests, and you ask them to RSVP, you’re basically controlling the stream of guests that you expect to welcome into your home. You have to consider if your home can accommodate your guests in terms of space and food availability. Border control follows the same principle. If it doesn’t, then by all means, we can work together to change it so it does follow this principle.
 
The speaker ends the video with: “Ask yourself what you’re going to say at the end of your life when God asks you, “How did you care for your brothers and sisters who were refugees and migrants?”
 
To this question, I would say as we seek to help refugees and migrants, which is definitely a noble goal, we also have to consider helping our brothers and sisters who are legal immigrants, not the “white supremacists” the media constantly talks about. Sometimes the way we help refugees and migrants can needlessly endanger our fellow American neighbors (and I am not talking about just those with fair skin), so it is all the more necessary that we consider how we can best help both parties.