I am doing a sermon today on immigration. We will consider Biblical passages where God’s support of Israel was made contingent on remembering that they had once been immigrants and were not to mistreat the foreigners and migrants in their own land. The citizens of that nation were to bring one tenth of their first fruits to share with orphans widows and migrants.
This passage will remind us that the people many of our leaders call “illegal aliens” are in fact the true natives of this land. It will also remind us that the problem of immigration did not begin when migrants crossed our borders, but when we crossed theirs to destabilize their economies and force governments that served us, not the people. This has been going on for ages. Our nation is responsible for the people it has displaced politically or economically.
Finally, we will revisit the plaque at the base of the Statue of Liberty and see if we even recognize the nation being described:
The New Colossus by Emma Lazarus
Not like the brazen giant of Greek fame,
With conquering limbs astride from land to land;
Here at our sea-washed, sunset gates shall stand
A mighty woman with a torch, whose flame
Is the imprisoned lightning, and her name
Mother of Exiles. From her beacon-hand
Glows world-wide welcome; her mild eyes command
The air-bridged harbor that twin cities frame.
“Keep, ancient lands, your storied pomp!” cries she
With silent lips. “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-tost to me,
I lift my lamp beside the golden door!” -Emma Lazarus
As our nation votes increasingly to tighten our southern border (but not our northern), and thus declares to the world that we do not wish to be “mother of exiles,” perhaps we could also vote to decide which nation deserves to harbor that noble vision to which we have now closed our eyes. Perhaps it is time to pass the torch of liberty to a nation that still believes in it.