Immigration action halted – Right? Wrong? What’s next?

You have probably heard several spin reports on Judge Andrew Hanen’s 123 page decision in State of Texas vs. United States. I say spin reports because I read news reports from pro-immigration reform groups chastising the judge for being political and referring to immigrants as “criminals” and “terrorist”. That’s not true. I also saw reports from anti-immigration groups praising the judge for standing up for the constitution as he declared the President’s actions unconstitutional. That’s also not true. So what did happen?

In actuality Judge Hanen spent half his opinion explaining why the 26 states could sue the government. Bottom line: He believed there was substantial harm if the State of Texas (and potentially others) were required to issue driver’s licenses to DAPA recipients. While not the basis for his opinion he also found significant that citizens could be disadvantaged in seeking employment since DAPA recipients are not entitled to health care so an employer could exclude them from that benefit and it would be less costly to hire them (Opinion, p. 40).

The judge then dealt with the merits and believed the Executive was engaged in legislative rule making which required certain notice provisions to be followed. The judge referred to political rhetoric and web sites to overcome the presumption of prosecutorial discretion. Like many, the judge believed the Executive was conferring substantial benefits upon four million people who should not receive such benefits.

Right? Wrong? The opinion put a halt on the first phase of DAPA which applied to an expansion of DACA. The case is being appealed and will likely be overturned. As a matter of law, the judge will probably miss both marks – jurisdiction and his interpretation on the merits. Contrary to a lot of reports this is not an Executive Order, it is an Executive Action.

There are nearly 12 million undocumented immigrants in the United States. President Obama is actually deporting the most immigrants ever and that is 400,000 a year. Judge Hanen has no authority, nor ability, to compel the federal government to instantly deport all 11.8 million immigrants. The government has to set priorities for deportation. No new law was created. Under existing law when we prioritize removal those who are deferred are granted the right to work so they can be productive. The action confers no legal status, amnesty, or path to citizenship.

The executive action sets priorities in deportation proceedings. Parents of citizens are pushed to the back of the line so their children do not become wards of the state or live in fear of having a parent ripped away from them. In the midst of the heated rhetoric we are forgetting the people who live in fear every day. Neighbors. Many are brothers and sisters in Christ. I understand politics and the important policy issues involved, but it grieves me to see Christians who enter this area first politically and then try to push aside the clear commands of Scripture to care for the immigrant.

What’s next? More rancor. The judge’s opinion will be overturned but that does not change the deep divide in our country. 26 states filed this lawsuit. The solution is for Congress to act. We should stop pointing fingers, casting slurs, and actually roll up our sleeves and pass comprehensive legislation.

While our three branches of government fight, can we in the church remember that we belong to two kingdoms? Voice your opinions, cast your votes, but do not neglect the greater Kingdom of Heaven. I love America, but I love Heaven more and Jesus’ immigration policy is pretty clear. Every tribe and every nation will be represented. Jesus will welcome the stranger – shouldn’t we? The Samaritan was of a different tribe, a different ethnicity, a different country, but he cared for his Jewish neighbor. Let’s do the same, follow Christ, and

Go and Do Likewise!