Perhaps there isn't a more gut-wrenching series of images than the ones of crowded detention centers filled with refugee children and their mothers, who risked life and limb to enter the U.S. Southern border and escape often volatile and violent conditions in places like Honduras, Guatemala, and El Salvador.
Immigration is a complex issue, provoking passionate responses on all sides. There is genuine frustration with the federal government across many administrations and Congresses. Solutions seem varied, with people of good will on opposite sites of reform efforts.
But I hope we can all agree to see the human side of this problem. As someone who has devoted much of my life to defending the sanctity of human life and the dignity of the family, I'm concerned about the rhetoric often employed when talking about these people, mostly children, who have recently crossed our borders illegally.
Followers of Jesus believe in the dignity of every human life, from natural conception to natural death, regardless of their usefulness to society. This is why we recoil, in horror, at the savagery of Kermit Gosnell's abortion mill, we cheer when a legislator like Wendy Davis is defeated in her attempt to stop common-sense legislation that bans the killing of human life after twenty weeks. This is why we advocate for pro-life crisis pregnancy centers, many equipped with ultrasound technology that allows a mother to view the life within her womb at the earliest stages of development. This is also why we advocate for the dignity of developmentally disabled children, often tragically aborted on the altar of convenience.
In Psalm 139, King David writes poignantly of his own conception. Each child, the psalmist reveals, was "knitted and formed" by the loving hands of the Creator. No child enters the world outside God's watchful eye. Our Christian faith demands that we view every single human life with infinite worth and dignity, created in the image of God.
So it should disturb us to hear utilitarian arguments employed in the immigration debate. I've seen refugees described as "invaders," "aliens," even "lepers" intent on destroying our way of life. But each immigrant, regardless of their status, is a human being, created in the image of God. Especially children. It was Jesus who commanded us to "suffer the little children to come to me and forbid them not" (Matthew 19:14).
Though many are here, desperately trying to escape the often-volatile conditions in their native countries, sober reality tells us that we can't save all the world's children; well-meaning compassion must be met with wise public policy. The government does have a right to secure its own borders.
And yet those of us who take our pro-life convictions seriously should also guard against a kind of subtle utilitarianism. Followers of Jesus, who consider children a "heritage from the Lord" should view, with suspicion, arguments that label children as an obstacle to a flourishing civilization. This kind of America starts to sound less like the home of Lady Liberty and more like the home of Margaret Sanger.
Well-meaning Americans will continue to disagree on the exact policy prescriptions for the border. But hopefully we can all agree to see each in each undocumented child, the image of the Creator. My hope is that followers of Jesus begin to see immigrants as less of a threat to their way of life and more of an opportunity to fulfill the Great Commission and be a part of God's sovereign plan to gather a people from every nation, tribe, and tongue (Rev 7:9; Rev 5:9).