Do not mistreat the alien or oppress him, for you were aliens in Egypt
A brief history of American immigration:
- In 1834 Boston Protestants burned an Ursuline Convent in a riot against growing Catholicism and, to some extent, the presence of French Canadian nuns.
- Discrimination against if not outright barring of Irish Catholics was the norm from the mid 1830s to the “Know Nothing” era of the 1850s.
- In 1882, although Chinese labor had been a critical part in building the nation’s cross-continental railroads, America imposed the Chinese Exclusion Act barring immigrants from that nation.
- In 1907 the US created the “Gentleman’s Agreement” protocol in which Japan would no longer issue passports to their citizens desiring to live in America.
- In 1923 a court decision barred immigrants from India and stripped naturalized Indians of their US citizenship
- During the Great Depression virtually all immigration was barred, and over half a million Mexican migrants were sent back to Mexico.
- Jewish immigration was also stopped, causing untold hardship to those fleeing fascism. The St Louis bound for New York with Jewish refugees was turned away consigning Jews to probable death.
- In 1942 propelled by fear and anger, President Roosevelt issued Executive Order 9066 directing all Japanese and Japanese-Americans to internment camps for the duration of the war.
And what can one add to the horror of forced migration since the 17th Century as Black African slavery. No rights, no freedom, no citizenship for over 300 years, massive exploitation.
All of this and more was done to people who we, as people of faith, consider to be the backbone of our complex society. We make promises. We don’t keep them.
Today’s Supreme Court Ruling upholding a Muslim ban – and make no mistake, that’s what it is – is a reversal of history and an appeal to the worst parts of American history and to our worse natures. This ruling capitulates to fear not to reason, not to love, and not to the very principles we claim to honor as Christians.
Attorney General Jeff Sessions just called those of us opposed to this ban, “The lunatic fringe”. No, we are speaking to our core Constitutional and faith values.
Despite our national commitment to Religious Freedom, religion is being used to bar thousands who are fleeing oppression and who now cannot come to America to seek refuge. Mark you, if those seeking asylum and are Christians from the designated nations now barred entry, this ban will not be upheld. This isn’t about national security. This is about religious discrimination of the worst order.
With the chaos of our Southern border and reversal of the existing laws about the treatment of refugees, the separation of families and internments of children, now we have barriers to Muslims from countries that have done no harm to us at all.
We are descending to rival our darkest actions, our most base nature. History will not judge us well.
This decision cannot stand. We must raise our voices everywhere against the retreat to fear and demonizing of our neighbors. We are called to do this. It must be our charge.