Over the last week and a half, much of our country has exploded in rage and anguish over what is taking place down at our southern border. With every passing day, more and more gut wrenching stories and videos are being shared widely on social media. The Trump Administration claims they are only enforcing a law that was passed years ago, ergo the Democrats are to blame for these horrific images. Many Democrats and Republicans alike have responded saying that these family separations are a direct result of the Trump Administration’s “Zero Tolerance Policy” for illegal immigration, which means that the government is prosecuting every person criminally who has illegally crossed the border. Because the parents are being prosecuted, that means that the children and adults must be detained in separate facilities while the adults await their hearings.
It doesn’t take a logical genius to put two and two together to realize that this policy has a direct result of separating families; even if we are to believe the Administration’s spokespeople who say they never intended for this to happen with their “Zero Tolerance Policy.” (Sidetone: for those keeping score at home, President Trump’s Chief of Staff John Kelly did say when they rolled out this policy that it would be a “strong deterrent” to families who are considering crossing the border illegally.) Regardless of the Administration’s intentions, it is hard to deny the disastrous consequences this “Zero Tolerance Policy” has on children and families at the border.
And if there already wasn’t enough turmoil to deal with surrounding this issue, last week on a trip to Indiana, the state where my wife and I currently live, U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions decided to cite Romans 13 as reason for why Christians should follow the Administration’s lead of following the letter of the law. I must admit, that as a Christian, this development was the one that really set me off. Using the Bible to explain away treating humans as subhuman has a long and ugly history in this world, and particularly this nation. Romans 13 was used by slave owners to justify subjugating an entire race through its wicked practices, it was used to explain away mass genocide of Native Americans (the original inhabitants of this country), and it was even used by Nazi Germany to eradicate Jews during the holocaust.
Thankfully, there have been many prominent Christians who have decried the use of Romans 13 to justify separating families at the border. Many of these commentators have wisely pointed out that near the end of the very same chapter of Romans that Jeff Sessions had quoted in support of this policy, Paul writes,
“…Whatever other command there may be, are summed up in this one command: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ Love does no harm to a neighbor. Therefore love is the fulfillment of the law.” Romans 13: 9-10.
To be honest, I could spend the rest of this blog post hashing out all of the intricate details of this crisis situation, and how it disturbs me greatly. But in keeping with the spirit of my blog postings being about building bridges between fractured communities, and trying my best to walk the path of the peacemaker as Jesus did, I will spend the rest of my time discussing a solution to this crisis that might seem overly simple, but is actually profoundly powerful and transformative.
Right now, our House of Representatives is debating a so-called “Compromise” bill that would try to put a law in place that keeps families in detention together while they go through the criminal prosecution process of entering this country illegally. I’m not sure if it will actually pass through both houses, or even if it did manage to make it to the President’s desk, that he would actually sign this bill into law.
As of this blog post, the Trump Administration has stated that they will not sign any legislation that does not include funding for his “Border Wall.” This clearly shows that our president is willing to use children as a bargaining chip, and frankly that is disturbing. This is not to say that the Democrats are blameless either. Some Democrats are so rigidly “Anti-Trump” or “Anti-Republican” that even if there was something positive that this Administration did, or a Republican-sponsored bill was offered that fixed some of the very problems for the people their party supposedly champions, they would refuse to support these measures on principle alone. The irony is not lost on me that when Republicans did this under President Obama, many Democrats constantly complained about how Republicans were only “obstructionists.”
These are the dangers of the Washington Elite, the Establishment, The Swamp. Washington is so obsessed with who is in power, as opposed to what those in power have been elected to do. According to Jesus’ teachings, those with power are called to take care of the least of these. To take care of the widow, the poor, the stranger, the oppressed, the children.
What would it look like if an elected official sponsored a clean bill to resolve separating families at the border, one free of clauses for border wall funding or provisions against said border wall funding? What if an elected official wrote a law to fix a policy that was inherently wrong, inhumane, and immoral, but they did so simply because it was the right thing to do? What if an elected official did so with no grandstanding? No secret agendas. No motivations for reelection bids.
Many will argue that this is not how Washington D.C. operates, and that it is simply naive to wish for something like this to happen. But doesn’t it just take one person to chose a path that is different for real change to occur?
The actions of one man to refuse to fight back, and to instead heal the ear of a Roman officer who was there to take him away changed the course of humanity.
What if by using their power to subvert the Politics of Washington, a little light would begin to shine through the darkness, leaving its residents in power wondering what more could change?