Tag Archives: immigration

Two Questions

As we consider the turmoil in our streets and online, there are two guiding questions that may help us with a civil and insightful conversation. First, what does “there” look like as we aspire for a more humane, just, and loving world? Second, what are some practical steps toward this vision?

It is much easier to agitate and destroy than it is to build just and sustainable structures that help offer a flourishing future for all. Tearing down monuments to an unjust past is emotionally understandable. Yet, thinking deeply how to teach and understand the many narrative of American history will require more thoughtfulness that current reactions.

Conservatives tend to ignore the historical and systemic shortcomings and focus on personal opportunity and responsibility in achieving the ideals of the Founders and Framers. Some (not all) progressives find it hard to affirm anything positive about the past but offer few practical and economically feasible solutions for all the crises we face.

What does “there” look like? I long for a day when every (of every color or culture, class and gender) person – from conception to coronation – lives in a world with access, equity, and opportunity and can, with the help of others, flourish personally and add to the goodness of our world. “There” includes immigration reform, so America is hospitable and welcoming immigrants ready to contribute. Neither open borders nor separating families are good solutions.

Practically, serious reforms are needed in all sectors (business, criminal justice, education, political accountability, mental health, strengthening families, and more) so that these pathways are created and sustained. We can forge and better future without extreme deficit spending and defunding law enforcement.

Will we find the courage and wisdom to get past anarchy and ignorance, nostalgic and utopian dispositions and work toward justice? The road ahead is perilous but full of promise.

Rightly Ordered Loves, Part 4: Love and Immigration: Hospitality and Security are Possible

The immigration history of the USA includes much prejudice and xenophobia, punctuated by moments of hope and inclusion. During the height of Ellis Island’s embrace of millions (1880s-1910s), Chinese immigrants in California were imprisoned, oppressed, and subject to severe restrictions if they did manage legal status. Heartening narratives of religious and social freedom are unfortunately concomitant with nativism and racism. Maryland was founded in the mid-17th century as a Roman Catholic refuge. By the 1840s, there were anti-Catholic riots in response to the influx of Irish survivors of the potato famine in their homeland. The open doors of the late 19th and early 20th century became the sealed gates of the 1920s to 1940s, with Jewish emigres severely restricted at the height of the Nazi genocide.

Legislation in the 1960s opened the floodgates, with a confusing array of regulations that allowed an influx of students, workers (temporary and permanent), and refugees. At present, some have to wait years for a pathway to citizenship while “undocumented” residents, DACA recipients and others are the recipients of much favor and financial support. The US-Mexico border and adjacent facilities are overwhelmed with people. On the political front, both parties want a steady stream of new arrivals for their economic and political purposes. A large majority of American citizens want reasonable regulation joined with compassion. When the President details the lawbreaking and subversive activities of some at the border, he and his supporters are vilified in the name of compassion. The deep concerns of many concerning racism and oppression of the poor must not be dismissed. Neither party has placed legislation before the White House that ensures hospitable and secure pathways.

Leaving aside the extremes of racial nativism and complete open borders, there are ways forward involving principled compromise…if love is understood properly. Open borders in the name of compassion may involve a loving attitude, but agape love looks at the long-term and will foster equal justice for all. Borders and citizenship are positive principles for a society built on personal virtue and the rule of law. Reasonable security is not the absence of love and regulating the influx of new residents is not the opposite of compassion, but stewardship of resources and institutions.

Agape love can transform the current debate by unmasking the motives and methods of current policies. Families should be kept together and given reasonable time to be heard. But thorough vetting will protect the nation from criminal elements. Agape love is sometimes “tough love” that avoids creating generations of welfare dependents and residents that refuse any assimilation into the values and vision of a pluralistic society. Agape love considers all facets of social flourishing and fosters structures of inclusion and wisdom. Agape love also helps people make friends across cultural divides and offers uniting virtues that help citizenship be unity-in-diversity.

Immigration reform is not an unsolvable problem, if unselfish love guides policy. Alas, greed and power often overtake true love. Future generations deserve better, as we welcome people from every corner of our world to help our nation flourish.

Letters to Leaders, Part 2

Dear President Trump,
I pray for you: for purity of heart, divine love, and the wisdom and strength to carry out the impossible duties of your office.


Three things I long for as you lead:

  1. Clear policy communication without personal insults.
  2. A balanced budget for our children’s future.
  3. More convening with people that do not agree with you so we might discover a principled middle ground.

I agree on some policies and disagree on others. Your desire to help our nation will be enhanced with humility. I do not mean apologizing for particular principles, but opening pathways of peacemaking.

OK, three more things:

  1. Call a racial reconciliation summit and listen deeply to the cries of the historically underserved.
  2. Call an immigration summit and forge a hospitable, secure and compassionate policy.
  3. Meet with leaders of all faiths and none and reaffirm the brilliance of freedom of conscience and true toleration.<


I was no fan of the prior administration, but I prayed for and still pray for those that were part of those years. While applauding some of your initiatives, I long for you to choose statesmanship. You will never win over inveterate enemies, but you may get more done in service of all.