May witnessed the end of Title 42. This was an immigration policy enacted under the Trump administration and continued under the Biden administration and its job was to essentially shut down the US-Mexico border so that migrants could not cross during the pandemic. But now, with its conclusion, the United States faces a huge influx of immigrants, desperate for the start of a new life. Many of these people are coming with nothing besides the clothes on their backs. They have been waiting, in makeshift tents at the border, until this piece of legislation expired, so that they could cross the border. How does this relate to housing justice and is there a Christian duty to help at the border?
There are a variety of people crossing the border every day. Migrants, asylum-seekers, refugees and others flee their countries of origin in search of a better life in the United States. But this life they hope for, does not always come to fruition. First, camps set up to care for an intake of migrants are typically overcrowded, uncomfortable, and rough living conditions. With makeshift housing and lackluster access to proper food, water, and sanitary privileges, many migrants spend their first period in a new country living in inadequate housing. Then, from there, many are unable to rent or find affordable housing whether that be due to their situations or legal status and therefore, housing injustice persists. This is the situation faced by many at the US-Mexico border today. And while we may live thousands of miles away from the scene of the crisis, we still have a role to play.
There is a clear Christian duty at the border, to help the immigrants currently trying to enter the United States. One clear calling comes from the Christian story. First, the story of the Exodus is one of the Israelites wandering, homeless, for forty years. Further, as Christians know that we are part of two cities, the city of God and the city of Man. As a result of this dual allegiance, we are sojourners ourselves here on earth, knowing that our true home lies in heaven with Jesus. Therefore, we must be able to sympathize with those here on earth that also find themselves wandering in the wilderness, with no home to be found.
Second, Christians are called to be hospitable and caring. We read in Proverbs 25:21-23 that even for our enemies, we should clothe them and provide them with food and water. If Christians are called to treat our enemies with this much care and respect, why would we not show this same honor to those facing housing injustice at the border? While we may live far away from the areas being most affected, we can still do our part in supporting the people hurting at the border, providing them with the basic human necessities and supporting those people and organizations doing the work where it is needed most.
We have a shared humanity, and because of our own history, of the Israelites wandering in the wilderness and our present state of sojourning, the clear commands given throughout scripture to care for our neighbors, Christians have a duty at the border.
The Refugee and Immigrant Center for Education and Legal Services
United Nations: “Migration and the right to housing”
The San Diego Union Tribune