Many times when I discuss immigration the same questions come up.  Recently over Facebook I was challenged on several of those questions.  I thought it a good idea to share those answers here.

1. Nearly a third of all “English learners” in U.S. public schools are third-generation Americans who still are not speaking English at home."
Even if this were true (and it is not) what of it?  Most of these homes speak more than one language.  In my home we speak Spanish while our first language is English.  Most of my African friends speak 3 or 4 languages including English.  Experts say U.S. students are falling behind and could suffer in the global marketplace because U.S. students lag in various comparisons, including the average number of languages spoken and the number of exchange students studying abroad.

2. Immigrants are taking our jobs:  Governor Scott Walker said he would make sure that our “legal immigration system is based on making our No. 1 priority to protect American workers and their wages.”  
Then I say let the immigrants work.  Yes, immigration does “take jobs” but it also creates them. What we’d actually like to know then is what is the net effect: and the net effect is undoubtedly beneficial overall. Thus the reason that economists generally believe that immigration is a good thing.

Immigrants historically have done the jobs that the majority culture does not do, and why not? By and large the majority culture has educated itself and innovated to start business so they can employ people to do the "stoop labor". No one who has aspired to go to college and get an education did so just so they could stake and pick tomatoes, or flip burgers. These are necessary and honorable jobs and someone need to do them. Here in NC we tried to get nonimmigrant to take pick our veggies but only 7 American stuck it out in a need of 6,500 jobs. Your veggies will be picked by immigrant hand, either here in the US or outside of it. What is your preference?

3. There is also the often repeat the myth that immigrant are in the pocket for the Democrats and that,  “The Obama administration is doing everything it can to inject new voters in the 2016 election."  
Non citizen immigrants cannot vote, only citizens can vote!  The president's EA will not produce voters since it is only a stay of deportation with no pathway to legalization.  I work with immigrants on a daily basis and have asked them what party they register with.  Many tell me that they registered as Democrats because they believe in democracy.  When challenged to look at the Democratic platform most of they are appalled by what the Democrats stand for.  Some have asked me to help them change their affiliation.  Take a guess and the types of organizations that do voter education and registration among immigrants... Yep you guest it liberal ones!  What party is mostly known for wanting to deport the parents of immigrant children (US citizens) and block any effort at a reform of our broken immigration system...?  Yep you guest it Republicans.  So let me ask you, why do you think the few that do register to vote often register Democrat?

Republican primary voters have an immigration question for candidates: What is your solution to replace the broken system? It can’t be to deport 11 million people. The consequences of such an approach are unacceptable for my community and for our economy.

Any credible candidate will have a realistic plan to tackle our broken immigration system head-on, in a way that prioritizes not just our security but also our values. Immigration is about people who strengthen our communities.   We need our political leaders, including 2016 presidential candidates, to engage in a constructive debate about how to replace our broken system and move our country forward.   As a Christian leader, I’m looking for immigration reform that addresses all aspects of our broken system. A recent nationwide poll of evangelical Christians shows support for reform that not only boosts border security but also provides undocumented immigrants an opportunity to earn legal status and eventual citizenship.  Current policy is hurting our neighbors, and it is not furthering respect for the rule of law. We need new laws that restore respect for the rule of law and for human dignity, and that keep families together.

We need immigration reform that promotes safe communities and respect for the rule of law. We need reforms that will reinforce the integrity of our national borders and our immigration system going forward, strengthen community trust and cooperation and assure that immigration laws and practices are coherent, consistent and federally funded.  Our current immigration system is broken and promotes illegality. An approach to immigration that prioritizes legality and accountability is crucial to restore respect for the rule of law and create safe communities.

The Old Testament prophet Jeremiah encourages Gods people seek the peace and prosperity of the city.  We need immigration reform that creates jobs and helps businesses and our economy. On Wednesday the government will begin accepting H-1B visa applications, but we’ll hit the cap within days. Outdated caps like this one hold our economy back and limit our economic growth.   We need reform across the jobs spectrum. We need more skilled workers not only in science and technology, but also in other industries with worker shortages. Right now, the dairy industry is threatened by a severe shortage that better immigration laws could solve. We need a process that works for the skilled engineer and the skilled farmworker alike.

A deportation-only policy for the 11 million people who lack documentation would take about 20 years, cost the government between $400 billion and $600 billion, drop GDP by nearly $1.6 trillion and reduce economic growth by at least 5.7 percent. That’s according to the conservative American Action Forum.  We should  support candidates who lead on this issue, who want to replace our broken system and put this debate behind them. That means moving forward with constructive immigration proposals, not ideas that would cripple our communities and our economy.

I must say that I dislike and fear government overreach, perhaps more than most, and in that sense I dislike it in any branch of government.   I believe Executive Action (EA) is a breathtaking grab of executive power.  That said, it is not unconstitutional or illegal.  It is understandable that most people are not experts on the immigration law, and can only accept or reject what the media is telling them.  I'd like to offer a simple analysis for your consideration.

Margaret Stock said, "Granting temporary legal status by executive fiat would be “an extraordinary abuse of office” and tantamount to rewriting existing immigration laws.  But, the Immigration and Nationality Act and other laws are chock-full of huge grants of statutory authority to the president."  This was emphasized by the nonpartisan Congressional Research Service in its 2013 brief. “Congress gave the president all these powers, and now they are upset because he wants to use them. Other presidents have used the same authority in the past without an outcry.”

The president could go even further and offer asylum to the Unaccompanied minors.  Section 207 of the INA gives him the authority to declare a humanitarian emergency.  This could provide refugee status to all of them.  In fact the US did exactly that with Operation Pied Piper for children fleeing from World War II,  and then again with Operation Pedro Pan to provide a safe haven to Cuban kids.

Work Permits
Until Congress actually passes a law issuing permanent residency, nothing that Obama is suggesting would prevent future presidents from stripping these folks of their temporary status and deporting them. So EA falls short of “legalization” or “amnesty.”

Offering work permits isn't some further step. It’s part of the deferral process within the law. Once the a person receives a deferment from deportation they automatically become eligible for work authorization under the Immigration Reform and Control Act of 1986.

I have wrestled with this question about Executive Action (EA) both personally and also in how to communicate about it publicly.  The topline message is that at its core, immigration should be a moral issue about people, not a political one about parties.  It is about the heart of individuals towards the vulnerable.   Although opinions may differ on administrative action, if we had to make the decision we would do everything within legal authority to promote the family, honor the Imago Dei, and begin to bring resolution to this crisis.  We still need Congress to act on long-term immigration reform for our security, our economy and our communities.

Thoughts on EA.
No matter where we stand on administrative action, it’s only a temporary measure; we need a permanent answer to a system that isn’t working. Congress simply must act to replace a broken system that is hurting families, communities, and our economy.

Administrative actions falls short of the ideal we have always advocated for. Although it may help keep us secure and keep families united in the short term, Congress must take the lead on enacting real reform that respects the rule of law, boosts our economy, and keeps families intact.

How Congress responds is crucial. The new Congress will have a golden opportunity to present a clear vision on immigrants and immigration in America. They can pass legislation that makes administrative action moot, and be credited for replacing our broken immigration system.

No matter what branch of government we’re talking about, we need a compassionate response to immigrants in our communities. Polarization in Washington sometimes makes us forget that we’re talking about people and families.  

Many are frustrated that inaction from Congress has brought us to this point. Immigration reform from Congress is the only real answer for our broken system.

We’ve said it before, and we’ll keep speaking for it until it’s reality: Congress needs to create a new immigration process that strengthens the rule of law, respects individuals and families, builds our economy and makes us safer. Millions of immigrants living in the shadows is not the answer, and administrative action may help but will never be more than a temporary answer. Congress must act.

EA and Implications for the Church
I that believe that God is allowing the whole issue of immigration to drag along because He is using it to radically change His church here in the US.  Immigration will not be "fixed" in the US until His Church embraces and loves the immigrants in their communities.  We see this issue as the tip of the spear for the church to catch God's heart on the vulnerable.  The immigrant issue is only one of the categories of the vulnerable people that the church must change its attitude towards!

God is using this issue as a "wedge" to crack open “our” churches.  I love how Matt Soerens starts the article A Clear and Present Mission.   If our church were to disappear, would the community beyond our congregation weep?  We will look back and say one day that God used this issue of immigration to cause a paradigm shift in the US church.  

Ultimately this is just the beginning of significant change, not only in our immigration laws, but in the hearts and minds of people toward the vulnerable and specifically the immigrant.  How the church responds to this issue will have huge implications for the church itself, the communities we minister in, and our nation.  God grant us the humility to seek His face on this issue.

As an Evangelical Christian I believe that we need to enforce our laws, but those laws also need to be first of all moral.  I say moral in two senses.  One there are Moral laws that need to be distinguished from “rules.”  Moral laws are those that are defined in the Bible like thou shalt not… and rules are those laws that are necessary for an ordered society but not universally binding.  The Bible calls for us to obey the moral law first and then to submit to the “rules.”  We have no right to question God’s moral law, but rules are adjustable.  Obviously, when we have to choose between Moral law and “rules.”  We are commanded to obey first and foremost the Moral law.  I think that this the very question we as Christians grapple with.   Is there conflict between God’s Moral law, and the “rule of law” in the Immigration law.  I believe there is conflict and that as Christians we should be asking that question.

There are two bodies of law in the United States currently, civil and criminal law.  Criminal law is a poor attempt to reflect the moral laws, and Civil law is an attempt at the “rules” to order society.  Breaking of civil law does  not make one a criminal and usually carries with it a monetary penalty as it is not as severe as the breaking of criminal law which makes one a criminal.  An example of a civil law is speeding, and entering without inspection.  Both of these break the same body of law and do not make the law breaker a criminal.  We do not destroy a person's fortune, family, and life for civil infractions!

For a society to have a “rule of law” basis there must be the concept of proportionality.  By that is meant that the punishment should be proportional to the crime committed.  This is why we do not live under the lex talionis system.  But equally important in a “rule of law” society it the concept restoration.  Punishment is meant to be restorative.  An example of this would be bankruptcy.  After one has been in bankruptcy for more than 7 years the record in wiped clean, so one can move on with their life, even if they never paid back the debt.  Another example would be the driving record, after payment of the fine and after a certain number of years that infraction falls off your record, even if you commit more infractions.

Some of the questions that we as Christians should be asking is:  One, is the immigration law moral? Two, is it proportional? Three is it beneficial?  People need to grapple with the issues

In terms of the first question I would respectfully ask each of us,  are we being taught what the Bible has to say about immigration, both Old and New Testament? By that I mean when is the last time you heard a sermon on what God says about how to treat the alien in your land? Do we even know what is moral when it comes to immigration.  Slavery was the law of the land at one time, and even after abolition there were many related laws that were not morally correct, but many Christians of the time supported the laws.

As to the second question I would ask do we hold immigrants to a higher standard than we hold ourselves. What they are doing is no different than what I know that you and I have done many times in our lives by breaking civil law almost daily. Entering without inspection is a civil offence.  Is the church ignoring this question in a Pharisaical way, in part by calling it a political issue.

Immigrants do need to read  Romans 13:1-2, as well as 1 Timothy 5:8. I do not suggest that I know the right answer to each case, but what I am suggesting, is that the answers are not as clear cut as we often think they are. There are dear brothers and sisters in the Lord who are undocumented and have wrestled before the Lord about what they should do about their immigration status and have come down on either side. These believers would love to get right with the law if there were a way to do so. But under current law there is no way to do so. Some of them are in mixed status families where some part of the family belongs to different countries. If they were to "go home" their family would be torn asunder even their marriage vows would be at risk. Some of these families no longer have a home or even a neighborhood in their native country, and their US born children would become immediate targets of kidnap or murder. Some would have no way to provide for the needs of their family like 1 Timothy demands. Romans 12:13 gives us a personal command to show "hospitality," which literally is philo-zenia - to show love to immigrants. Are we being obedient to direct clear command of God?

Republicans need to figure out how they’re going to move the conversation about immigrants and immigration forward.

With victories around the country this election and 2016 around the corner, Republicans now have a golden opportunity to present a clear vision on immigrants and immigration in America. The question now is, will they take it?

 Immigration stands alone for its combined economic, social and political impact for Republicans.

Just two weeks ago, nearly 200 leaders on the cutting edge of social and economic change came together in Washington to talk about the value of immigrants to our communities. Conservative tax reformers, Southern Baptist pastors and military veterans alike emphasized that for America to thrive, new Americans must have the opportunities, skills and status to reach their fullest potential.

 The bottom line is that most Americans recognize that our immigration system is broken and that eventually Congress will need to replace it with a process that works for all of us.

 Administrative action appears likely, and our elected leaders can respond with fury that sends young and minority voters away from the political process, or they can lead on real immigration reform that honors our history as a nation of laws and a nation of immigrants. Only Congress can answer this challenge once and for all.

Administrative action is not ideal, but it would make our country more secure. Until Congress acts, administrative action would allow law enforcement to prioritize valuable resources. And stronger trust in law enforcement among immigrant communities will make all of us safer.

The key will be how Congress acts. On Election Day 2016, voters will reward leadership on immigration.

 Everyone understands that how we treat new immigrants reflects our commitment to the values that define us as Americans. We believe that families should stick together, that we should look out for each other, and that hard work should be rewarded.

No matter the political calculations here, Americans recognize that immigrants are changing the face of America in positive ways.

Unaccompanied minors in the U.S. immigration courts system face a mountain of procedures, forms and customs that they don't understand, advocates say. For many, the language is foreign, too.

"It's hard for me to fathom that a child could articulate in court what they need — they don't know what to ask and when to ask it," said Ashley Huebner, managing attorney for the National Immigrant Justice Center's Immigrant Children's Protection Project in Chicago, which defends minors detained in the area.

Since 2005, nearly 50% of the children who had lawyers when they faced an immigration judge were allowed to stay in the United States. In contrast, only 10% of children who went to court without an attorney were permitted to stay.

That comes from the nonpartisan Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse at Syracuse University. TRAC released a report in July based on information culled from open records requests made to the Executive Office for Immigration Review, which runs immigration courts as part of the Justice Department.

The odds are generally stacked against migrant children, Huebner explained. If a child is detained in an area that doesn't have a sophisticated system of pro bono immigration attorneys, advocates, and charity groups experienced at working with migrants, it's likely the child will fall through the cracks and not get an attorney.

Of the approximately 28,500 juvenile cases in immigration courts nationwide as of June, only 31% of defendants had attorneys, according to TRAC data.

One Washington-based nonprofit organization that dedicates itself to providing legal representation for unaccompanied minors, Kids in Need of Defense, estimates that with this year's mass influx of Central American children, between 70% and 90% could go unrepresented.

What these numbers mean, experts say, is that immigrants who should qualify under the law for asylum or other relief — but lack an attorney — may be deported. There are cases where children are deported back to dangerous or life-threatening situations.

"We talk about access to protection, but this can be meaningless if they don't have an attorney," said Megan McKenna, communications and advocacy director at Kids in Need of Defense.