Opinion: Arizona SB1070, err on the side of compassion

Opinion: Arizona SB1070, err on the side of compassion

May 27, 2010
Written by Gregg Brekke
Living in southern Arizona gives a person a special perspective on the current immigration crisis. At the Good Shepherd United Church of Christ in Sahuarita, we have a history of being proactive in the immigration issue.

For more than 12 years we have been engaged in studying immigration issues and for the last 6 years we have been actively giving humanitarian aid (food, water and medical care) to thousands of migrants in need through our Samaritan Ministries. We have heard hundreds of stories of suffering and struggle and more than once have we met Jesus walking in the desert. 

So it is has been interesting to observe the fervor and outrage that has taken place over the past few weeks since Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer signed into law SB1070. Obviously there has been a range of reaction from confusion, anger, disappointment and more.  
Polls show that up to 75 percent of the people in Arizona and across the country are in support of the law, which is probably true. The only problem is that immigration is so complex and interwoven into our culture and economy that it is pretty hard to identify it and cleanse yourself from it.

The reality is that we are all intricately engaged and an involved piece of the immigration puzzle and in many cases profiting from it in so many ways and we don't even know it. From the gardeners in our yard, the food on our table, the thousands of dollars we saved on our homes when we purchased them, we have all benefited from undocumented labor; we are all complicit in the immigration equation.  
With that in mind the Bible passage that has been stuck in my mind over the past few weeks in the wake of SB1070 has been Matthew 7:3-5 which says, "Why do you see the speck in your neighbor's eye, but do not notice the log in your own eye? Or how can you say to your neighbor, 'Let me take the speck out of your eye,' while the log is in your own eye?  You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your neighbor's eye."
Like it or not we all have a speck or two in our eye especially when it comes to the complex issues of immigration. I think it is rather sad to hear the rhetoric and watch the division as well as the scapegoating of certain people, when we know we all of our hands are dirty-each of us has had a hand in the problem. The only real answer is to push all politicians, no matter their party persuasion, to seriously work for comprehensive immigration reform. 
By the end of the summer a lot of water will have washed under the bridge and this issue will look a lot different by then. I can only say to the people of the United Church of Christ, let us engage in critical thinking and continue to study the issues of immigration, while respecting each others' struggles and perspectives on it.

And if we are to err, let us err on the side of compassion with each other as well as the migrant in our midst.

The Rev. Randy J. Mayer is the Lead Minister of The Good Shepherd United Church of Christ in Sahuarita, Ariz.

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