Americans value fairness. After all, our nation began when colonists objected to taxes they deemed unfair. So, it’s no wonder that Americans today object to illegal immigrants receiving social services at legal taxpayers’ expense. That’s simply not fair.
At the same time, as Christians, fairness is not necessarily an ideal to which we aspire. After all, God’s granted us amnesty, so to speak – and reprieve from deportation to a dreadful eternal destination. Plus, as American Christians, we’ve been blessed materially far beyond what’s fair. While 80-percent of the world lives on less than ten dollars a day, we enjoy one of the highest per-capita incomes in the world. Jesus said to whom much is given, much is required.
Still, this is no small nor easy issue. According to a 2010 study by the Federation for American Immigration Reform, illegal immigrants cost the average American household about 11-hundred dollars annually. And, considering that the U.S. is experiencing a recession, perhaps putting some limits on American generosity is reasonable. After all, we must consider our own citizens too.
Hardliners advocate deportation. Yet, not only does this lack compassion, it’s simply impractical. According to a study by a UCLA professor, deporting 11-million illegal aliens would cost the U.S. a whopping 2.6 trillion dollars over 10 years. However, this same study shows that offering illegal residents a path to legal residence, while securing our borders, would add 1.5 trillion dollars to the U.S. Gross Domestic Product. This strategy also would increase tax revenues.
True, offering legal residence to those who entered the U.S. illegally may not necessarily be fair. And, perhaps, these immigrants should pay a penalty for for violating the law and taking advantage of American taxpayers. Yet, we Americans, especially believers, must remember how much we’ve been given – and forgiven – and must extend grace.