I know him. I know his mother. I know he loves Jesus and has a passion for serving. I know he is kind, gentle, and rarely gets upset. I know he is partly responsible for the influence that caused my husband to pursue Christ at a young age. I know he gives generously of his time to the Church and is a good leader. I know he is serious and disciplined. I know the girl he loves and wants to marry. I know he respects me as a sister and is a safe place to turn.
I also know that sometimes Haiti feels like a desperate place. A place of little hope. A place where the sun is always shining, but it still feels dark. I know his family has struggled. I know for many years, he has tried to get a visa the right way. I know he was torn apart when those closest to him had to leave him behind. I know many more people with stories like his.
Our Visa Journey
We have been caught up in the endless waiting for my husband’s green card for a year now. We desire to live in Haiti, but to stay together, we must have the flexibility of coming to the US when there is trouble. Especially if we are to raise our kids on the mission field.
Every month excuse after excuse is made for why the embassy is not interviewing. Our hope is dragged through the dirt. Since we’ve been married, due to the circumstances in Haiti, we’ve spent less time together than when we were friends. All of our paperwork was approved in February and has been frozen since then. Many others have been waiting even longer.
This is not a process for the faint of heart.
Bring Them To Mexico
I am face to face with the brokenness of immigration in a new way. It has been a difficult journey for us from the start, but watching a friend seeking to come to the US through illegal means is harder. It’s a whole other realm of hard. The moment I heard of his plan, my heart broke.
I am disgusted at the comments I hear often. “Just bring them to Mexico and let them walk over like the rest”. Those who say such things think it is that simple. Yet, they know nothing of the cruel immigration system that drains the life and youth from the marginalized who would dare to dream of life in America. They dare try to build a future for their families, finding war and poverty a thing to escape. Some dare fall in love with an American.
Why would someone want to come to the US as an illegal immigrant? Maybe they don’t. Maybe, they feel it is the only option. It is certainly not for the warm welcome or free things that await them. Getting here costs them everything. Often leaving family is only considered because the financial contribution to the family unit will be worth it. It is out of love and selflessness that most attempt it, love for their families.
Do You Really Get It
Until you have tried to make a living in an impoverished country (where many immigrants come from), like Haiti, you will never understand.
Until you try building a house on a salary of $2 per day, you may whine about your tax dollars helping pay for “illegals.”
Until you watch a loved one die from an illness that you know is curable, you won’t get it.
Until you hear your children cry for hunger and you can do nothing to ease their pain, you will still think selfishly of your “privileges.”
Until you work to put yourself through school, along with a younger sibling, at 13 years old, it won’t make sense.
Until you are forced to tell your childhood sweetheart that you can never provide for her, the only reason you will not marry her, your heart will remain hard toward the young men who get arrested at the border.
Or until you know someone who has done these things.
Until you have walked in the shoes of just one person who seeks entry to the US, do not say, “just walk over in Mexico.” Please!
Hear The Truth
The truth is most of the people who seek to enter our country illegally have already tried for years to jump the legal hurdles to come here legally. They get desperate and are forced to make their own way or stay in their situation. If successful, once they are here (the few who actually make it) they find their humanity stripped away from them. Their dignity is taken. They become “illegals” instead of people. They are despised. Dishonored. Criminalized. Hated, even amongst Christians.
This has gone on for years. Some have taken up this cause, but it is largely overlooked. To be open about the brokenness of immigration laws is to be unpatriotic. Well, I am a patriot. A patriot who wants others to share the freedoms that I have simply been born into. There is a pro-life sign I often see that shares a potent truth: “Those who are pro-choice, have already been born”. It could also be said: “Those who are for keeping immigrants out of America have already migrated here”. The truth is we are all immigrants from somewhere.
No one chooses where they are born. If you had been born into a poverty-stricken war zone rather than your comfortable home in the US, would you want to come here than the “illegals” do? Would you not want a better life for yourself and your loved ones, a better life that America flaunts on every screen? Would you bear the pain year after year of throwing money and effort into visas that get denied while your family suffers around you? I don’t think you would.
When a stranger sojourns with you in your land, you shall do him no wrong. You shall treat the stranger who sojourns with you as the native among you, and you shall love him as yourself, for you were strangers in the land of Egypt: I am the Lord your God.Leviticus 19:33, 34
You and the sojourner shall be alike before the Lord…Numbers 15:15
The Lord executes justice for the fatherless and the widow and loves the sojourner, giving him food and clothing. Love the sojourner therefore, for you were sojourners in the land of Egypt.Deuteronomy 10:18-19
God loves immigrants! He sees and understands fully the desperate situations they come from. He has a heart for those who are strangers in our land, and so should we. As Christians, we should know what it is to be a stranger in a foreign land better than anyone else. While we live on this earth, we are all sojourners, just passing through.
What I Can’t Do
I cannot counsel a man to come to the US illegally because of warped immigration laws. Breaking the law is not usually the path I believe God would lead us to take. Sometimes the laws of the land, or laws of man, go against the laws of God. In those cases, we are permitted to obey God rather than men. However, with immigration, that is not likely to be the case.
I cannot help him accomplish such a feat that will likely end in hardship for him.
My husband and I have chosen to follow the law for him to come here the correct way. It is not easy. Lately, we have had other offers. I will not have his dignity taken because we are impatient. He does not deserve that. We trust that even the US government cannot stand in the way of God’s will for us!
I hope that one day, Nelson will have the same privilege as I do, to go where he pleases without being looked down upon because he was not born here. More than ever, I long for that day.
At the same time, I cannot say I do not understand our friend. I cannot condemn those like him who, by the mercy of God, make it across the Mexico border. Because it is His sovereign mercy on them. Without His allowance, not one “illegal” would be here.
My Hope And Prayer
We cannot stay silent while neglect to love the sojourners among us is the leading attitude in the Church. We should be the ones who love them best.
You may not know an immigrant personally, but I pray next time you are tempted to jump on the bandwagon of disgust, you will stop and think.
I pray that you will recognize the statistics are not just facts but people, people made in the image of God, who have stories and aspirations just like you do.
I pray that you remember and never forget how privileged you are to be American. God could have chosen to put you somewhere else.
I pray above all that you will develop God’s heart for the immigrant, whether legal or illegal.
I realize some people reading this post may say, “But most illegal immigrants are criminals, drug cartels, and traffickers”. There is a problem with these atrocities at the Mexico/US border (and elsewhere). In this post, I am talking about immigrants who are here without evil intent. I am not referring to criminals, either American or non-American. By the way, in one 2018 study by the Cato Institute in Texas, the criminal conviction rate of illegal immigrants was 45% below the conviction rate of native-born Americans. Legal immigrants’ conviction rate was even lower. Likely because they were in the US for the benefit of their families and not to commit crimes.