I know what the law says about undocumented immigration, and I believe all our laws should be enforced. But I have a different question on the issue. Can we be proud of our immigration laws and the affect of their enforcement?
Does immigration law produce liberty and justice for all? How does the intent and force of our laws square up with the ministry and message of the Lord Jesus Christ? Do we have the right kind of laws?<?xml:namespace prefix = o ns = “urn:schemas-microsoft-com:office:office” />
These questions and many more came rushing through my mind Wednesday night as I watched the “Don Francisco Show” on Univision at 9 p.m. Anyra Cano, a staff member at Buckner, alerted me to the scheduled program that was to feature the experience of American citizens who have been abandoned due to the deportation of their parents.
Don Francisco noted that 4 million children who are American citizens have been abandoned due the deportation of their parents at the hands of the Immigration and Naturalization Service/U.S. Border Patrol.
The program featured sibling sets who told their stories of survival separated from their parents. One set of siblings were 8, 13 and 16 years old. The 16-year-old daughter is raising her brother and sister.
On an adjacent screen, the parents were shown in <?xml:namespace prefix = st1 ns = “urn:schemas-microsoft-com:office:smarttags” />Mexico and were invited by Don Francisco to say a few words to their children via satellite. Of course, the parents looked distraught, and the children fought back tears until they could not hold back any longer.
The scenarios described by the children painted a picture of INS/Border Patrol agents bursting into their homes in the middle of the night and arresting parents, who were here without documents. The experience was frightening for these children and shocking for their parents.
Some would say: “Deportation is what they deserve for breaking the law!” “That is the risk they take when they have children in our hospitals at our expense.”
But what about the innocent children, who are American citizens? What about their rights? What about the right for a child to live with his or her parents?
I have written and spoken for Comprehensive Immigration Reform. I have prayed for our politicians and have appeared personally before senators and members of Congress to encourage them to fix our immigration laws for the sake of children and families. I have advocated secure borders, enforcement of the law, a guest-worker program, pathways to legal residence and citizenship for those who meet reasonable requirements.
I am still hopeful that the United States Congress will demonstrate the will power and integrity to overhaul immigration law for the sake of our nation. In the meantime, Baptist Children and Family Services and the Baptist General Convention of Texas have collaborated to feature Immigration Service and AidCenter.
ISAAC is a ministry to help congregations establish Immigration Centers to assist undocumented immigrants to legally apply for residence and citizenship. You can learn more at www.isaacproject.com.
I am proud to be an American. But quite honestly, I was disappointed and felt crushed in my spirit to learn of the impact of our immigration laws and the negative impact they are having on children and families. Somehow this does not seem right.
Albert Reyes is president of Buckner Children and Family Services. This column appeared Sept. 7 in his blog.