Immigration: Christians do not turn their backs on fellow humans

This article appears in the Francis in Mexico feature series. View the full series.

The pope versus Donald Trump! There has been quite a bit of controversy over Pope Francis' response to a question at his news conference on his way back from Mexico to the Vatican. The question was what he thought about Trump's comments about building a wall between the U.S. and Mexico to keep undocumented Mexicans from crossing the border without documents. Trump, like his other Republican rivals, claims that we are being "invaded" by "illegal aliens," and so he wants to further militarize the border even more than it already is.

What they fail to note is that undocumented crossings have significantly reduced and are now flat. There is no such invasion. During the Obama administration, despite his critics saying that he has not dealt with the immigration issue, some five million undocumented people have been deported. Yet Trump and other Republicans are engaging in fear-mongering and indirectly appealing to the racist nativism of those who fear the changing demographics of the country, where "people of color" such as Latinos are increasing in the population.

These are not the immigrants that Trump and others desire. But this fear-mongering is appealing to the lowest common denominator of people's emotions. Where is an understanding of why people migrate and of why they take the dangerous trip to assist their families in need? Where are Christian values in helping others who are in poverty and in danger? Jesus helped strangers, the sick, the persecuted, and the poor. It's in this context that the pope responded to the question. It had nothing personal to do with Trump but with Trumpism, that is, a non-Christian response to those in need. You are not a Christian if you are not Christ-like. You are not a Christian if you are not like Jesus. You are not a Christian if you consider fellow-human beings in need as only criminals, druggies, and rapists. Where is your humanity? Where is your Christianity?

The pope was addressing the hypocrisy of so-called Christians who do not act like Christians. The political adage "one's politics is not what you say it is what you do" also applies to religion. Don't tell me you're a Christian, a Catholic, and then turn your back on your fellow human beings simply because they don't have immigration documents. The pope was not interfering in the presidential race; he was addressing the un-Christian attitude of building walls that separate human beings created in the image of God from other human beings who are also created in the image of God. I applaud Pope Francis for not ducking the question and instead reminding all of us of whatever faith we belong to that we all belong to the human race and God or just human decency requires us to help one another. The pope has my vote!

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