By Rev. Mark Creech
Christian Action League
August 23, 2019
Only a few days ago, North Carolina’s Governor Roy Cooper vetoed HB 370 – An Act to Require Compliance with Immigration Detainers and Administrative Warrants.
The legislation required local law enforcement officials to comply with detainers and administrative warrants issued by Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE). It would have also authorized the removal of a sheriff or officer from office for failing to comply with ICE detainers.
ICE often sends requests to detention centers that are holding suspects believed to be in the country illegally. These requests ask confinement facilities to keep these people in custody for ICE agents to come and get them.
Sounds reasonable, but these are the days when all things “reasonable” don’t prevail. The Governor said in a statement that the bill was “simply about scoring partisan political points and using fear to divide North Carolina.”
Perhaps North Carolinians have a legitimate reason to fear.
This month a North Carolina sheriff was accused by ICE of ignoring a detainer request. Mecklenburg County Sheriff Gary McFadden stopped honoring ICE detainers after he was elected last fall, and one of those requests was for a 33-year-old Honduran foreign national accused of raping a child under 13 years old.
Oscar Pacheco-Leonardo was deported in 2006 but found his way back into the country illegally. “By releasing a previously deported alien facing serious criminal charges, Mecklenburg County chose to release a serious public safety threat onto the streets of Charlotte where he was free to potentially harm others for nearly two months until his capture by ICE,” said ICE officials.
ICE also provided a long list of detainer requests that were issued to Mecklenburg County and ignored. The list included the names of 22 illegal aliens, many of whom were charged with serious crimes.
No wonder the North Carolina Sheriffs Association strongly supported the vetoed legislation, calling its passage and enactment a “high priority.”
In a press conference, Rep. Brenden Jones (R-Columbus), a primary sponsor of HB 370 asked, “How could the Governor choose to abandon the people of North Carolina and their safety? This was common-sense legislation for the protection of our people. The Governor has decided to side with illegal immigrants charged with serious crimes over the citizens of North Carolina.”
No doubt, some Progressive Christians will argue Gov. Cooper’s veto was the right thing to do. Allow me to say something striking. Despite leftist clergy’s support for open borders and the abolishment of ICE, you cannot legitimately glean from a faithful interpretation of Scripture that nations are required to accept immigrants, nor is there any such teaching that says an alien should have all the same rights as citizens.
Of course, some will cite passages such as Exodus 22:21, which reads, “You shall not wrong a sojourner or oppress him, for you were sojourners in the land of Egypt.” Indeed, illegal immigrants shouldn’t be treated cruelly or unjustly. But one cannot extrapolate from such verses that undocumented aliens should be treated in the same manner as a nation’s citizenry.
Wayne Grudem, in Politics According to the Bible, provides theological clarity by citing scholar James Hoffmeier’s book, The Immigration Crisis. Hoffmeier says “that the word translated ‘alien’ (NIV) or ‘sojourner’ or ‘stranger’ (ESV; sometimes NASB, KJV)” in “Old Testament verses was a ‘person who entered Israel and followed legal procedures to obtain recognized standing as a resident alien.’ Hoffmeier points out that there was a specific Hebrew word (gēr) used to refer to such an ‘alien’ or ‘sojourner.’ In other words, Hoffmeier shows that these verses about the ‘sojourner’ (Hebrew gēr) refer to ‘legal immigrants’ into a country. But other people who did not have this recognized standing were simply termed ‘foreigners’ – using other Hebrew terms – and they did not have the same benefits or privileges sojourners did…
“Hoffmeier also emphasizes that nations in the world of the Old Testament clearly placed a high priority on protecting their borders and having the right to decide who would enter their nation and would not: ‘Were ancient territorial borders taken seriously and was national sovereignty recognized? The answer is emphatically yes.’”
Moreover, Ken Blackwell in an editorial for the Christian Post titled, ‘America First’ is Not About Being Against Foreigners, was entirely correct when he said:
“It’s not about being against foreigners. All nations put their people first.” He added that it shouldn’t be controversial for us to base our policies on that principle. “It’s nothing against foreigners. They put their people first. They don’t provide the U.S. with ‘foreign aid.’ They don’t protect America from foreign enemies…It’s about time we were equally serious about taking care of our own. The first duty of the federal government—and states and localities too—is to protect and support the American people…As the Preamble of the Constitution explains, the federal government’s purpose is to ‘insure domestic tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general welfare, and secure the blessings of liberty to ourselves and our posterity.’ If we don’t take care of ourselves no one else will.”
For the government to take care of its citizens first, making them the priority in public-policy is also wholly consistent with the Apostle Paul’s admonition in I Timothy 5:8, which says, “But if any provide not for his own, and especially for those of his own house, he hath denied the faith, and is worse than an infidel.”
There is a sense in which North Carolina is the Governor’s house, and we, its citizens, are his family.
Is Governor Cooper acting worse than an infidel?