Today all across the country we are celebrating independence day (never mind the fact that we’re celebrating a day early around here because the 4th lands on a Sunday). Each year at this time we congratulate ourselves on how free we are and how grateful we are that we threw off our oppressive government that had no respect for the rule of law and no respect for private property. What does that last statement have to do with sharing freedom? It has everything to do with sharing freedom.
First I would like to be clear about what I mean when I speak of sharing freedom. There are people all over this world that live under the oppression of their governments. Their governments have found that they can tax their people to the limits of their productivity or directly take the natural resources of their lands and sell them for profit (often to the detriment of their citizens). Many of these people only want relief. They want to find a home where their property is not randomly seized by their government or robbers unthreatened by the rule of law. It’s kind of like what the first immigrants here in North America as well as the first settlers here in Utah wanted.
We have a long tradition of escaping oppression. By extension, we should continue that tradition by welcoming those seeking relief. Why should we be trying to help those that also want to be free? Because they are people just like us. They have families and friends that they love and want to enjoy without threat from their government. Those of us that call ourselves Christians and believe in the doctrines found in the bible are particularly responsible to help those who wish to come here to escape oppression. In Deuteronomy 10:18-19 (NIV) we read, “He defends the cause of the fatherless and the widow, and loves the alien, giving him food and clothing. And you are to love those who are aliens for you yourselves were aliens in Egypt”. In Psalm 146:7 (NIV) we see, “He upholds the cause of the oppressed and gives food to the hungry. The LORD sets prisoners free.”
I bring all of this up because there is a human aspect to immigration (legal or illegal) that is missing from all of the debates I have seen. We talk about people and assume them to be criminals and robbers. We hear about how evil immigrants are and how they will destroy our culture and take our jobs. They come here and use our government services without paying the taxes to support them. Sounds like a lot of fear mongering to me. Though that last part about using government services seems to have some interesting problems.
Why are we afraid of someone getting government health care and food assistance when they have not paid the taxes for it? Why should we resent the fact that others are benefiting from our tax dollars? Nay, why should we resent clothing the naked and feeding the hungry with our tax dollars? I posit that it is because the help is forced. We still feel that the money that has been taken by our government is still somehow ours. In truth, it IS ours as there is nothing inherent in the formation of a government that gives it the right to strip its citizens of property be it goods, real estate, or money.
It is our responsibility to help those in need, but it is wrong to force our fellow citizens to provide that help. Forced charity is not charity, but robbery.
So where does this leave us with immigration? At this time we need to stop being distracted by immigration as a great evil to be dealt with. We need to stop treating immigrants as criminals who want to take our resources by way of our government. We should instead, focus on disarming the weapon we are accusing them of using. That is to say, we should reexamine the role of government in our lives and use it to enforce the right to own and keep property instead of using it to take property for the purposes of assisting those in need that we should be helping directly anyway.
If we were to do this then the arguments about immigrants coming here for free healthcare and other welfare services would fall flat. If we properly restrained our government we would never need to fear that new people coming into our country would ever use it to rob us and benefit themselves.
Last of all. I would like to suggest that on this independence day we are back in the hands of oppressors who rob us of our property and use it for their own purposes. Unfortunately our oppressors are us. Isaiah wrote: “People will oppress each other – man against man, neighbor against neighbor…” (Isaiah 3:5)(NIV).
Many have forgotten what real liberty is. Today I wish to urge everyone to start learning what real freedom of life, liberty, and property is so that we can start reclaiming it.