Welcoming the Stranger


There’s a very interesting interview posted on Christianity Today with Jenny Hwang, Director of Advocacy and Policy for World Relief. She has also co-authored a recent book titled Welcoming the Stranger: Justice, Compassion & Truth in the Immigration Debate.

In it she discusses how she has reconciled her belief in the  “rule of law” regarding the immigration issue, with her role at World Relief which advocates for immigration reform. She talks about a number of misconceptions regarding both illegal and legal immigrants in the United States. She also paints a picture of the middle ground that is emerging in the immigration reform debate.

Five minute read. Definitely worth your time as “food for thought” on the role of faith in the immigration issue.

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17 thoughts on “Welcoming the Stranger

  1. haven’t listened yet, but world relief rocks. you should put a link up to donate to them. i used to work for them as a case manager for refugee resettlement, they do amazing things.

  2. I thought that might be where you worked when the article mentioned they were based out of Baltimore. I couldn’t remember if it was World Relief, or World Vision you used to work for.

  3. World Relief is a great organization. We have worked with them some in Ft. Worth.

    The immigration issue is a complex question.

    First, I don’t believe we should just let everyone in but there is a need for serious immigration reform.

    Most if not all of the illegal immigrants I have known are just looking for a better life. They work hard and many even pay taxes. Many are taken advantage of by employers. It seems every couple of years there would be something in the local news of a group of illegals being exploited like slaves for either prostitution or marijuana farming.

    Also, it isn’t uncommon to hear of Coyotes abandoning a truck load of illegal immigrants in Texas or New Mexico. Usually they are locked in the back of a tractor trailer with little or no food and water. Just left there in the dessert to die.

    1. Most if not all of the illegal immigrants I have known are just looking for a better life. They work hard and many even pay taxes.

      Thank you for leading with this.

      I think that it’s important to remember that most immigrants, illegal or otherwise, are coming here for the same reasons our ancestors did. Granted (and we take this for granted) it was alot easier to come here legally a hundred years ago. But fundamentally today’s immigrants are crossing the border for the exact same reasons our ancestors did. Despite what Lou Dobbs would like us to believe, theyre not coming here to steal healthcare from American taxpayers, or collect social security. They’re coming to escape poverty. For America’s promises. For a better future for their children.

      And the paying taxes part… That’s one of the things I learned in that interview. Millions of illegal immigrants are actually paying into Social Security. It’s illegal … but … when they use a false SSN to try to gain the ability to work, that income is taxed. But it’s 100% profit for the government because those workers – illegal as they may be – can’t claim income tax credits on that amount.

    2. yeah ft worth has a big world relief refugee office. refugees in general are some of the most amazing, interesting people you could ever meet.

  4. Having grown up in Texas I have know a lot of illegal immigrants.

    My dad’s church helped illegal immigrants find work (sponsors) and become legal immigrants. One of the first men they help eventually brought his wife, children and several family members. All are now legal, tax paying immigrants.

    I agree with WR that there needs to be a program to allow qualifying immigrants to become citizens.

    However, I would like to see very harsh punishments on companies and others that take advantage of illegal immigrants. Many times what I have seen happen is very close to slavery and is intolerable.

    1. However, I would like to see very harsh punishments on companies and others that take advantage of illegal immigrants. Many times what I have seen happen is very close to slavery and is intolerable.

      A-freaking-men sister!

      Here’s a documentary I want someone to make…

      Someone get a camera and follow two or three families from Mexico as they attempt to immigrate to America. I think most of us are really ignorant as to how nearly impossible it is to come her legally. Poverty. Illiteracy. Cultural barriers. Border Patrol. It’s just about IMPOSSIBLE to come to America legally from Mexico.

      If you live in remote places in Mexico and are illiterate (as most are) and living in extreme poverty … where do you go to get information about American immigration policies? How do you afford the English classes?

      If I wanted a better life for my family. I’d take the “easy way” too. (Miles of harsh terrain. Dehydration.) Just to get my kids across the border. Even as illegals, we’d have a fighting chance.

      Why not open our arms? “Send me your poor … your huddled masses”

  5. i think all of this, shane’s suggested documentary included, should open americans eyes to what whiners we are. how bad we think things are for ourselves, etc. most of the rest of the world would give a limb to be an american citizen, even a poor one ;-). you realize so deeply how blessed we are just to be born here when you work with refugees or immigrants.

  6. I always get weird about feeling “blessed” for having been born within a certain territorial boundary. I’m relieved. And I feel fortunate. I’ve been around the world enough to know how good we have it here.

    But calling it a blessing always kind of felt a little icky to me. It kind of always made me feel as though the other 94% of the world was somehow not blessed because they weren’t American.

    1. shane, that’s like saying, i can’t say i am blessed to have three healthy children because that infers that people with children who are sick are not blessed. that’s silly.

      1. Right. And I feel weird about feeling blessed that my kids are healthy when others aren’t too. I know I am. And I’m grateful. But I almost feel guilty thinking about it.

        Not sure why. But it is what it is.

  7. i share your relief, to an extent. growing up an hour or two from the border of canada, i now think of the huge difference between the quality of education those born on the other side of the border get compared to the average american. and, of course, healthcare access for all. and, a much higher standard of living, generally speaking. and hockey 🙂 we are fortunate to be in the united states for various reasons, but there are at least a dozen nations out there whose residents are more fortunate. we need to realize we’re not #1 (military might excluded) and get some humility. same thing with being born of northern european descent. i’m really into my heritage, and recognize the privileges it gives me in this society, but it’s not as though i had anything to do with it. i was born this way, and within the borders of this country.

    side note: the leviticus quote is a great one, but all i can think of whenever i see the word leviticus is hateful people with signs screaming abomination.

  8. It seems I am torn by my compassion for those just wanting a better life and the few who come in this country illegally with malicious intentions. There does need to be some controls on who is allowed in but at the same time we need compassion,

  9. observation by my being a social worker, and it’s generally speaking.

    the people who come here as adults are typically very hard working, motivated, law abiding and grateful members of society. it’s their children where often times either the legal system or the social services system comes in b/c the kids have seen all the hard work amount to so little and been americanized, and a particular kind – in relative poverty. that’s just been my observation working in the ghetto of providence.

    1. Most of my experience as been with the children of both legal and illegal immigrants. Oh, my experience has been as peers growing up, as a teacher and youth minister.

      Some are hard working and some aren’t. Often times they must act as a translator and take on some adult responsibilities as a result. This is where I’ve seen the most problems because they don’t always translate correctly. For some it kind of gives them an upper hand on their parents.

  10. The age-old pesky U.S.-Mexico border problem has taxed the resources of both countries, led to long lists of injustices, and appears to be heading only for worse troubles in the future. Guess what? The border problem can never be solved. Why? Because the border IS the problem! It’s time for a paradigm change.

    Never fear, a satisfying, comprehensive solution is within reach: the Megamerge Dissolution Solution. Simply dissolve the border along with the failed Mexican government, and megamerge the two countries under U.S. law, with mass free 2-way migration eventually equalizing the development and opportunities permanently, with justice and without racism, and without threatening U.S. sovereignty or basic principles.

    Click the url and read the details of the new paradigm for U.S.-Mexico relations.

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