KEVIN LEININGER: Religion and the border: Render to God, yes, but Caesar has legitimate interests, too

Can a Christian support border security? It's more complicated than activists would have you believe. (AP photo)
Kevin Leininger

By all accounts, the “Families First Town Hall” at St. Joseph Catholic Church Sunday had quite a lot to say about how Christians should render to God by showing compassion to immigrant families while virtually ignoring the equally biblical duty to render to Caesar what is rightfully his.

Respect for legitimate national borders and the laws designed to enforce them, for example.

As many on the political left demand the elimination of the Immigration and Customs Enforcement department that has drawn fire for separating families that cross America’s border illegally, recent events in San Francisco — where else? — illustrate the inevitable, covertly political and ultimately destructive end game of the “open borders” movement.

The city by the bay, when it wasn’t dealing with feces left on the streets by its burgeoning homeless population, recently found time to decide that illegal immigrants and other non-citizens should be allowed to vote in local school board races this November if they are over 18, live in the city and have children under age 19.

“This is no-brainer legislation. Why would we not want our parents invested in education of their children?” city Supervisor Hillary Ronen told the San Francisco Chronicle.

Harmeet Dhillon, who serves on the Republican National Committee, had the obvious — and correct — answer: “I think the right to vote is something that goes along with citizenship and should be,” she said.

Chicago and some Maryland cities previously allowed non-citizens to vote in school board elections, and several cities in Massachusetts have voted to do the same but have been blocked by the absence of state enabling legislation, according to the Boston Globe. Although such efforts have up to now focused on local races, does anyone seriously believe the ultimate goal is to allow non-citizens, even those here illegally, to vote in all elections?

Another San Francisco supervisor, Norman Yee, certainly doesn’t. “We want to give immigrants the right to vote,” he said, pointedly omitting mention of any limitation of that right.

An election, like a nation, is supposed to be a reflection of its citizens. Campaigns are supposed to be won by influencing the legitimate voters you have, not by importing more in an effort to influence the outcome. It’s the modern equivalent of President Franklin Roosevelt’s failed 1937 effort to “pack” the Supreme Court with more members after the existing nine justices had failed to show proper deference to his New Deal initiatives.

The irony is at least two-fold: Just as some worry the Trump administration will scour San Francisco voting lists for people to deport, few seem to realize that people from around the world flock to America to benefit from the prosperity, peace and relative safety provided by the same rule of law, activists are working to undermine through means rejected by most Americans. Polls indicate an overwhelming lack of support for both the elimination of ICE and efforts to allow illegal immigrants to vote even in local elections.

As America weighs the desires of immigrants against its own national interests — and they are not necessarily the same — advocates should consider what is happening in Canada, where a nation long known for its liberal immigration policies has begun to narrow the door in response to a growing influx attributed to the Trump administration’s “zero tolerance” approach. Canada apparently realizes that, in order to meet its obligations to citizens and legal immigrants alike, it cannot simply admit anyone who shows up at the border. Distinctions must be made that reflect both compassion and an intelligent, objective assessment of the national interest and existing laws.

To demand the former while ignoring or condemning the latter is like pointing out that Jesus, Mary and Joseph were refugees when they fled from Bethlehem into Egypt to escape Herod without also acknowledging they eventually returned to their own country.

This column is the commentary of the writer and does not necessarily reflect the views or opinions of The News-Sentinel. Email Kevin Leininger at kleininger@news-sentinel.com or call him at 461-8355.


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