As the local news and Facebook have been exploding, I caught wind of a specific deportation case that shocked me. What shocked me even more was the conversation I had over Facebook (with old friends) about the incident. I made a rather passionate argument for why this case really needed to take into account that this man had a family and how he was a responsible member of our small town. What reply did I get:
Friend #1 – “Laws have no empathy. They are black and white.”
Friend #2 – “I’ve never learned empathy. Long story.”
After a few hours of sleep and some coffee, I realized why their response to this bothered me so much. There is no difference between this situation and the woman whom Jesus rescued from being stoned. I realize that sounds like a crazy comparison but keep reading and it will become more clear.
Background on Jose Lizandro Escobar-Vera
Jose is a 33 year old father of 3, with a fiancé and 3 elderly neighbors who all depended on him. He worked full time at Green Circle Growers (a local company on the outside of town). He started taking care of his elderly neighbors about 12 years ago and they even posted his $5000 bond when ICE rounded him up.
His son is 15 and is a student at the local high school. His oldest daughter is in grade school and the other is not in school yet. Without his support and income from they will almost certainly end up depending on the system to survive.
He pays taxes, has a home, is a productive member of society, and had work authorization in the USA. But now, he will be separated from his family because (as strict deportation proponents agree) its the law. Even though, technically, it is not the law.
Before moving on I want to point out the Norwalk Mayor, Robert Duncan (a Christian pastor), fought hard to keep this man with his family. Mr. Duncan deserves recognition for his efforts.
In addition, his neighbors also made a video plea for him.
More reading on the topic can be found in the following links.
“Mayor Slams Feds, Deportation”
Despite Community Effort, Rogue Detroit ICE Office Rips Father Of Three U.S. Citizens From His Family
And here is a copy of the deportation laws for Ohio as provided by the Deportment of Homeland Security
Background on The Adulterous Woman
John 8:3-11 records the story of the adulterous woman who the pharisees want to have stoned.
3 The scribes and the Pharisees brought a woman caught in adultery, and having set her in the center of the court, 4 they said to Him, “Teacher, this woman has been caught in adultery, in the very act. 5 Now in the Law Moses commanded us to stone such women; what then do You say?” 6 They were saying this, testing Him, so that they might have grounds for accusing Him. But Jesus stooped down and with His finger wrote on the ground. 7 But when they persisted in asking Him, He straightened up, and said to them, “He who is without sin among you, let him be the first to throw a stone at her.” 8 Again He stooped down and wrote on the ground. 9 When they heard it, they began to go out one by one, beginning with the older ones, and He was left alone, and the woman, where she was, in the center of the court. 10 Straightening up, Jesus said to her, “Woman, where are they? Did no one condemn you?” 11 She said, “No one, [a]Lord.” And Jesus said, “I do not condemn you, either. (John 8:3-11, NASB)
What is more important than strict adherence to the law? Taking care of our neighbors, loving people, and taking care of those in need. That is why we love this story so much; as well as the story of the Good Samaritan. In both stories the hero disregarded the laws at hand and did the right (and moral) thing for his or her fellow human being.
Jesus’s Understanding of the Law
In both cases it is the adherence to the law that is used as a reason to perform the resulting actions, which was prescribed by the law. In both cases, the victim did indeed break the law. So why do Americans love that Jesus defended the woman caught in adultery, but many fail to apply the same Christian principles to today’s laws?
I will paraphrase Jesus by saying the whole of the law is to love God and treat our neighbors as we would ourselves. In the case of immigration policy the second really should apply. This is more important than strict adherence to the law.
The Main Point
To be clear, the point I am making is that people are more important than the law. The well-being of people will always be more important than the law. Laws are supposed to serve mankind, not the other way around. So why does the inverse seem to be the norm? I believe it is because as people we tend to be retributive in nature. We think justice is served by harming others. But this is not justice; its vengeance.
The New Testament states:
Do not take revenge, my dear friends, but leave room for God’s wrath, for it is written: “It is mine to avenge; I will repay,” says the Lord. (Romans 12:19 NIV)
Plea for Sanity & Final Comments
Can we stop hiding our hate behind the letter of the law? Can we stop using the law as a reason to hurt others? Can we stop trying to feel good about ourselves by putting others down? Can we stop pretending as Americans that we are somehow better and more deserving to be here simply because we were born here; which is a right we neither earned nor did anything to achieve?
Quoted from the Statue of Liberty
Not like the brazen giant of Greek fame,
With conquering limbs astride from land to land;
Here at our sea-washed, sunset gates shall stand
A mighty woman with a torch, whose flame
Is the imprisoned lightning, and her name
Mother of Exiles. From her beacon-hand
Glows world-wide welcome; her mild eyes command
The air-bridged harbor that twin cities frame.
“Keep, ancient lands, your storied pomp!” cries she
With silent lips. “Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.
Send these, the homeless, tempest-tossed to me,
I lift my lamp beside the golden door!“