No Room in the Inn

Leviticus 23:22 (TMSG) 22“When you reap the harvest of your land, don’t reap the corners of your field or gather the gleanings. Leave them for the poor and the foreigners. I am Godyour God.”


This scripture in Leviticus has helped me to put into perspective a recent law in Arizona that is being called the toughest immigration law in the country. In essence the law allows law enforcement to ask people for identification that authenticates their citizenship even without a crime being committed. Although those who wrote the law insist that racial profiling will not be targeted, how else can this be viewed when Arizona is bordered by Mexico and so many people cross into our country without proper approval from this country?


            I’m not naïve to think that illegal immigration doesn’t present tremendous problems in certain states. The arguments used by proponents to immigration do have merit. We can’t financially support those that come into our country and utilize the services of our country while not paying into the same tax system that citizens do to fund such services. Eventually we will run out of money if this is allowed to continue. The problem that I have with this is that it misses the point of what makes America tick. This is a great country and there are countless people who will risk death and imprisonment to be part of it.


            What is an American? We are the mutts of the world. We have so many different types of blood running through our veins that those who prejudice against the foreigners are hypocrites. This is the most unique country in the world because there is not native race outside of the American Indian who can claim the status of being a true American. We all have our roots somewhere else.


            That brings me to my point. In the law the Jews were told to leave the corners of their fields for the poor and the foreigners. I believe this was two-fold. One was that it was a moral provision to take care of these people. The other was that it was to leave a testimony of God’s grace to those who received the blessing. In the world that the Jews inhabited, friendly relations with foreigners was important because those who you took care of today may be needed to protect you tomorrow.


            The Jews were known by their God. He defined them. It was vital to God that He be known as a merciful and giving God. It also helped to ensure that the Jewish people would survive. What other nation has been afflicted such as the Jews, yet they remain one of the strongest and most feared nations in the world. People have risen to their defense time and again.  I would suggest that this understanding that you have to take care of more than your own has played no small part in their endurance.


            The Arizona law is flawed in that it opens a door for many innocent people to be harassed because of the color of their skin. You would think we would be past this point, but we are not. Even more than this flaw, is the image that it presents of an America that is hard-hearted and oppressive. Our forefathers gave up so much to find their way to America. We opened our door to people from all races and walks of life. No one was turned away because we understood that our country was worth the risk to get to.


            At the Statue of Liberty you can read these words on the grand lady who overlooks the great entry point to our country at Ellis Island.


Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.
Send these, the homeless, tempest-tossed to me,
I lift my lamp beside the golden door!


            I agree that we need a plan to allow for legal immigration into our country. It has to be thoughtfully constructed and implemented. The Arizona law in my opinion is an ugly law that has huge potential for abuse. Even more than that is my opinion that as a Christian I can’t support something that makes the alien even more unwelcome, afraid and hopeless.