I write from a position of privilege. I’m at my desk, typing on a computer hooked up to the internet, the lifeline for many who now work at home. I’m able to do my job, teaching students through videos and zoom conversations. Yes, moving courses online in a hurry is difficult and problematic, but I’m still getting paid, and last I checked I still have health insurance. Social distancing is a luxury; I’m sure most people don’t see it that way, we want life to go back to normal so we can do normal things. This crazy pandemic is an enormous inconvenience, but for some it’s much more.

The coronavirus makes it easy to forget about undocumented immigrants. Many pay taxes, but none will get a government stimulus check. (See this article.) Many people have lost jobs, a painful, life shattering, consequence regardless of status. For undocumented workers, however, there is no safety net, there is no possibility of an unemployment benefit. Few believe people will be turned away from receiving necessary medical care, regardless of status, but most people don’t live with the added anxiety of deportation or family separation as a factor in deciding whether or not to go to the hospital.

The current pandemic makes the undocumented even more invisible. Many will say “Now is not the time to talk about the politics of immigration!” Our attention is consumed with the impact of the coronavirus on our lives. Churches are busy putting services online and finding creative ways to care for members. I want to suggest, however, that the current pandemic demonstrates the need for immigration reform. Like a blacklight, the pandemic reveals the hidden cracks in our social and cultural life that render people invisible.

The time for outdated protectionist ideology is over. We live in a global community; death and disease have shown they don’t care about national borders, and it’s time for love and compassion to do the same. Now is the time to demand change—for the sake of our immigrant brothers and sisters, and for the well being of our communities.

Jason Lief

Dr. Jason Lief teaches courses in Christian education and youth ministry. A Northwestern College graduate, he served as the chaplain for Pella (Iowa) Christian High School while earning a master’s degree in theology from Wheaton College Graduate School. He also completed a doctorate in practical theology from Luther Seminary. He previously taught theology and youth ministry at Dordt College for 10 years. Dr. Lief is the author of “Poetic Youth Ministry: Loving Young People by Learning to Let Them Go” and "Christianity and Heavy Metal as Impure Sacred Within the Secular West: Transgressing the Sacred.”

4 Comments

  • Ann Schipper says:

    Thank you for speaking out on behalf of the voiceless and invisible ones.

  • RLG says:

    If only it was so simple. It’s complicated.

  • Pam Adams says:

    Jason, I do see it as you do. We should see our immigration problem as a theological problem. Our Lord wants us to welcome the homeless and those whose homes are dangerous to them and their children. If we think as Jesus thought I think we would see Jesus sticking up for the down and out.

  • Kim Van Es says:

    Yes: “[T]he current pandemic demonstrates the need for immigration reform.”

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