Border Control sign in California

Border Control sign in California Public domain

Much has been made–including by me–of the broad array of religious voices raised on behalf of the immigrant children from Central America who have flooded our Southern border in flight from murderous gangs at home. In particular, the Catholic bishops and high-profile evangelical leaders have been forthright in calling on the government to care for the strangers in our midst.

But Congress went home last week without managing to provide President Obama with any of the funds he requested to deal with the crisis. The reason was plain for anyone with eyes to see and ears to hear. Republicans in both the House and Senate wouldn’t allow any money to be appropriated unless there was also a rollback of the protections afforded the children by the 2008 William Wilberforce Trafficking Victims Protection Reauthorization Act.

Writing to Congress as head of the bishops’ migration committee July 17, Seattle Auxiliary Bishop Eusebio L. Elizondo opposed any such rollback. So did the Evangelical Immigration Table, in a letter to members of Congress July 22. Yet even after the House passed legislation Friday cracking down on the migrants in ways that the president called “extreme” and “unworkable,” the bishops and the evangelicals did not criticize the GOP.

These are leaders who have not hesitated to let their righteousness roll down like a mighty stream on Obama for a host of sins, real and imagined, against their moral values. But when it comes to their erstwhile GOP allies, the cat’s got their prophetic tongue.

It’s not as if the people in the pews are about to revolt. Last week’s poll from the Public Religious Research Institute showed 75 percent of Catholics and 56 percent of white evangelicals in favor of sheltering and supporting the migrant children versus immediately deporting them.

Maybe the bishops and the evangelical leaders will get their act together and tell it like it is this week. Let us pray.

Categories: Beliefs

Beliefs: ,

Mark Silk

Mark Silk

Mark Silk is Professor of Religion in Public Life at Trinity College and director of the college's Leonard E. Greenberg Center for the Study of Religion in Public Life. He is a Contributing Editor of the Religion News Service

7 Comments

  1. samuel Johnston

    Looking to religious leaders for courage and moral firmness is simply inviting disappointment. Mostly time servers and opportunists, they are self selected risk averse wimps. Wasn’t there some story about an indignant guy driving the money changers out of a temple?

  2. Geoffrey Riggs

    While I am overjoyed that even white evangelicals favor sheltering and supporting the migrant children, the poll figure of 56 percent does show less than a landslide. In addition, many a time, when I see reference to a poll like this today, I can’t help recalling a brilliantly satirical scene in the old British sit-com, Yes Prime Minister.

    Bottom line: Leading questions in certain polls (not all, of course) can help elicit desired answers. Of course, I hope that this particular evangelicals poll accurately reflects what 56 percent would already have said unprompted. But was something like this —

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=G0ZZJXw4MTA

    — going on instead?

    Just a thought — and a chuckle.

    • Mark Silk

      Great clip, Geoffrey, and I don’t disagree with your point. However, all I claim is that white evangelicals are not about to revolt, not that they are enthusiastic supporters of caring for the migrants.

  3. We are forgetting that these immigrants violated a sovereign country illegally.
    How is it fair to legal immigrants like me and my family that came here legally, after waiting in line the way the law asks?
    How is it fair that we had to show gainful employment and not an expectation to jump onto the government dole, at the expense of my host county’s taxpayers?

    As one who knows central American and Mexicans very well (I was one) the expectation is that “the government will take care of us”, not caring that self sufficient is more loved by God. The norm in Mexico, where I’m from, is a disregard for assimilation, and disrespect to American law and culture. Could the USA at least make English the language of the land?

    The obvious hidden agenda by some democrats to get people into their ranks is sickening, and many of my fellow Mexicans know it. I don’t know if the majority do, but it’s cynical at best, and more likely down right evil.

    Shame on you

    • You are forgetting we are talking about children and who did not decide to come to our country on their own accord. So a criminal law analogy fails immediately. No “mens rea”, no “intent”, and juvenile “offenders”.

      You demonstrate perfectly why the “law and order” argument is so very ignorant and ridiculous. I bet you have no idea what our immigration laws actually entail, yet you are vociferous in their enforcement.

      The worst thing is you are completely wrong on the subject. Refugees are not illegal aliens. Claiming asylum is a perfectly legitimate way to become a permanent resident in this nation.

      “How is it fair that we had to show gainful employment and not an expectation to jump onto the government dole, at the expense of my host county’s taxpayers?”

      You are not a refugee. You were born into a system eligible for such benefits. You did not flee a country where potential imminent death is likely. These children have to prove they are legitimate refugees in order to stay here. It is a far more arbitrary system with fewer forms of recourse than anything you have to go through. You are a whinybaby!

      This is part of a system of treaties and obligations the US has signed on for with a host of other nations. If we turn them back, we are failing to honor agreements our nation made to the rest of the world.

      For all the talk of nativists about the drain immigration of any kind is on our system, it is foolishness. Immigrants, legal or otherwise are a net gain for our country. They keep populations and markets from the shrinking inevitable for all developed countries. These children, if approved for asylum will be capable of becoming tax-paying citizens. Our foster care system hardly breaks the bank of any government budgets.

  4. Chaplain Martin

    Enjoyed the article Mark. Comments of the children who are entering our borders illegally are often so hate filled. They are still CHILDREN. They should be treated with kindness as children.

  1. […] Mark Silk rightly asks – where is the outrage from religious leaders at the GOP for their hostility to the unaccompanied children coming to the border? Obama signs an LGBT non-discrimination rule and you would think the heavens were falling. But, the GOP personifies the throwaway culture, treats these children as a nuisance, and wants to send them back into the burning buildings which their home countries have become, and there is no outrage coming from the USCCB. […]

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