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by Bruce Strom

Much happened over the last week which raised the discussion of immigration and terrorism including the 5th Circuit decision on Obama’s executive action, presidential debates, and the attacks in Paris.   Unfortunately the theme has been consistent – immigrants are not wanted.

The 135 page court opinion issued last week is a bit laborious in its analysis of standing, technicalities of the Administrative Procedure Act, and Take Care Clause of the Constitution.  Behind the legal maneuvering of the opinion was the clear belief that immigrants are not wanted.  Two unelected judges stopped the actions of an elected president because of their feelings toward “illegal immigrants”.  While acknowledging that unlawful presence is a civil matter, these judges made a point to use the term “illegal alien”.  As they wrote, other words like “undocumented” or “unlawful presence” are “needless euphemisms, and should be avoided as near gobbledygook.” Op. p. 5.

“Gobbledygook” is a nicer word than governors and presidential candidates used this week as it became evident that one of the Paris bombers entered through Greece along with Syrian refugees.  “We cannot take Syrian refugees.”  No way are we going to open our borders to Syrian terrorist.  Never mind that no terrorist has ever entered the country as a refugee.  Like in France, it would be more likely to indoctrinate U.S. Citizens.  The other bombers were French or Belgium.  We have a year-long vetting process which is capable of distinguishing orphans and terrorist.  In addition we are only accepting 10,000 refugees out of millions – a very difficult lottery for a terrorist to win.

I know there are dumb terrorist, like the guy in Paris earlier this year who went to attack a church and accidentally shot himself on the way.  He called 911 and waited for help.  When they arrived they found the injured terrorist with a car full of guns, a map, and plans of the attack.  But most terrorist aren’t that stupid.  Just go to Canada and walk across miles of unprotected border.  For that matter enter as a tourist.  It is easier than coming as a refugee.

As we stand beside our oldest friend in the world, I wonder if we can remember their gift to us?  It still stands in the New York Harbor.  It should still be a beacon of hope to the world.  Liberty is freedom from tyranny.  How do we demonstrate that when we call our neighbors yearning to be free “illegal” “terrorist” “unwanted”.  I don’t agree with our President on everything but he was right in saying, “That’s not American.  That’s not who we are.”

My grandparents both immigrated to America from Norway.  Germany was threatening the country and ultimately invaded.  Fleeing tyranny they came to the shores of freedom.  My grandfather’s first view of America was of the Statue of Liberty before entering Ellis Island.  Yes, they came lawfully.  But only because our immigration law – the Immigration and Nationality Act – didn’t exist until 1965.

My grandparents had only grade school education but they learned English and worked hard.  My grandfather painted homes, my grandmother was a nanny – not that different than our unskilled immigrants today.  Because of their courage in the face of a world ravaged by war, I was born in the United States.  I am proud to be a second generation immigrant and an American.  But we are best when we are a beacon of light to a dark world.  We must stand against the evil of ISIS, but we do not do that through fear and hate.  That is what they want.  We must take a better path as Dr. King wisely said,

“Darkness cannot drive out darkness: only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate: only love can do that.”

So let us not compound the tragedy of Paris, by vilifying victims seeking freedom.  Rather let us figure out a way to show compassion toward the victim and resolve toward the terrorist as we do the hard work of following Jesus and

Go and Do Likewise.

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