Immigrants Have the Moral High Ground in Their Fight With the White House

The AP reported what we feared would happen. The White House has drafted a policy memo to use 100,000 National Guard members to round up undocumented immigrants.

The report is disputed. Sean Spicer says it’s false. Leon Wolf, an editor at The Blaze, says the White House leaked the draft memo hoping to blast the media for reporting “fake news.” Others are noting the legal challenges, specifically that using the National Guard would require the cooperation of 11 governors.

There is a fight ahead, but one thing we should all bear in mind is the human toll anti-immigrant policies take. The White House appears to be aware of potential blowback, especially when it comes to the children of immigrants who came here without authorization. Even Donald Trump knows, or should know, that aggressive deportation is going to tear families apart, and if that rending is caught on camera, and goes viral, all the worse for the president.

In other words, Trump is telling us what would be bad for him.

Let’s exploit that.

In addition to recommending that every immigration advocate carry a smart phone and have the ability to post short viral videos in the way that Black Lives Matter used video to draw attention to police violence, I’d suggest reminding anyone who listens, especially those sensitive to images of children being ripped from their mothers, that “illegal entry” is not a crime proportional to the punishment of being forced from the only country you have known.

It’s a misdemeanor for the first offense. Dreamers who came here with their parents unknowingly committed that crime. It is not a felony. It is not even all that criminal. It’s the legal equivalent of possessing an ounce of marijuana in some states, and given the decriminalizing trend, it’s not that equivalent.

Because the punishment does not fit the crime, there is a moral argument to make and we should not hesitate to take the high ground. But that’s not where the moral argument ends.

We can take the high ground to demand that supporters of Donald Trump make a choice. Specifically, I’m thinking of the evangelical Christians who supported Trump in the hopes of getting a conservative justice on the Supreme Court. They won, but in doing this evangelicals have invited dissent in their ranks, especially among young Christians of conscience who have refused to stand in support of a lying, thieving, philandering sadist.

How do we ask evangelicals to make a choice? By appealing to their humanity for one thing. But we can also appeal to religion. True, most evangelicals in my view are evangelical in name only. They are partisan first. But many are Christians first and there’s nothing Christians take more seriously than appeals to scripture.

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See the above commentary on a snippet of 1 Peter 2:11—”as sojourners and pilgrims.” I don’t know who N.C. Funston is. All I know is this is a page from a calendar my parents gave me for Christmas with recommended Bible readings as well as an interpretation of a verse.

The verse is about Christians being “foreigners” in “this world” traveling through on the way to heaven. In this way, Christians are similar to unauthorized immigrants. And just as Trump speaks against Mexicans, non-Christians speak against Christians, and “when they speak against you as evildoers, they may, by your good works which they observe, glorify God in the day of visitation” (my italics).

That’s a lot to ask of Dreamers. But they aren’t alone.

Deporting law-abiding tax payers is wrong. The administration appears to know the downside. We need to take advantage of that vulnerability, make sure everyone knows about the human toll of anti-immigration policies, and make appeals to a high power.

It’s not often God is completely on your side.

John Stoehr

John Stoehr is a Washington Monthly contributing writer.