Calling for an End to Birthright Citizenship: God Call Us to Love Unconditionally
Mar 21, 2019
By One of the Members of Our Anti-Racism Committee
Since my children have been born, I wish I could say that the state of race relations and racism in the United States has improved. If anything, racism in our country has become more visible and vocal since their births. This is coming from my perspective as a white male. Any person of color in this country could likely recount a lived experience of this perception in the past few years, let alone across her or his lifetime.
The recent call to revoke birthright citizenship in the United States distresses me profoundly. As a family physician practicing in the Bronx, I have encountered many immigrant families where a parent or the parents are undocumented though their children are citizens. These kids are as American as any child born in this country, no matter whether their parents are citizens or not.
This larger issue of who does or doesn’t belong in a country is ultimately troubling from what we know to be true from scripture. Repeatedly in the Bible, prophets and Jesus have called for welcoming strangers, refugees and loving all people as we love ourselves. What makes this especially distressing in our current American context is that the rhetoric of who doesn’t belong in this country is directed at people of color by white people in power. It is no secret that the current administration concern over citizenship refers to non-citizens giving birth in this country, mostly babies whose parents are coming from Central and South America and don’t look like the majority white populace living in the United States. The faces of these babies do, however, along with those of my patients, look like the face of God.
I’m not saying we should not have laws in the United States surrounding immigration, and this is not a call for open borders. I am saying that the vast majority of people entering this country do so for unselfish reasons rooted in hope for their families. I am saying that every undocumented parent who gives birth in this country loves their children as much as those who give birth as citizens, and that God loves them all the same. I am saying that white Christians should deeply reflect on our own own possible biases and internal prejudices. The narrative of calling for an end to birthright citizenship reinforces an us versus them mentality that is based on racial differences. I am saying that God weeps even harder when we are not only unwelcoming to our neighbor, but also when it is done along racial lines. God calls us to love unconditionally and to a standard that is higher than this. And lastly, I am saying that, when this is all said and done and we are gone from this world, that God will care who we welcomed in and not who we kept out.