Conspiracies and Truth Coming Out of the Immigration Protests in Murrieta

Lupillo Rivera. Image courtesy of Jolynne Photography.

Lupillo Rivera.
Image courtesy of Jolynne Photography.

The protests in Murrieta, California over the last week have exposed an important truth upon America. Did you know that Barack Hussein Obama and Nancy Pelosi ordered tens of thousands of Central American kids to flee their homelands, travel hundreds and hundreds of miles of treacherous terrain unescorted or with dangerous coyotes (whom their families paid thousands of dollars to), invade our easy Southern US border, land in a cozy detention center, and get amnesty. Later, these anchor babies can bring their parents in so they can all vote Democratic. It’s a conspiracy!

Of course, you’d have to be really racist and really hate Democrats in order to believe that. Unfortunately, our country is full of really racist people and those really racist people have conservative echo chambers to keep them infested with irrational and dangerous fears. Unscrupulous fear-mongers like, Louie Gohmert, World Net Daily, National Review, Todd Starnes, Ted Cruz, the militias, and Ol’ Faithful Fox News keep the Jerk Circle circle jerking. They keep the flames of xenophobia so strong that three buses full of refugee children were turned away in the small town of Murrieta, California. White Christians all over the internet and in protests such as those in California are throwing up political conspiracies as justification for despising refugee children running from intense violence at home.

Behold, for example, Rep. Gohmert:

In the end [Democrats] have said they want to turn Texas blue and they want to turn America blue. If you bring in hundreds of thousands or millions of people and give them the ability to vote, and tell them if you want to keep getting the benefits you have to go vote… that drives people to vote and it would ensure Republicans will never get elected again.

This piece of work right here is what terrifies me. Not that these political detractions and derailments are happening. Not even that these conspiracies are so far flung and silly. The fact that anybody anywhere gave this confused mass of Barney Fife any kind of legislative power over the entire of the United States is disturbing, sure. But the real world implications of these fantasies is what bothers me.

But this is the truth becomes obvious when looking at the Murrieta protests: The political conspiracies are just ways for the minds of certain Christians to excuse the fact that they are turning away children in desperate need of help and safety.

Seriously, how else can one have gone to church on Sunday, opened up a Bible, ever gone to Sunday School and not currently hear these words ringing in their ears:

Jesus said, “Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these.” (Luke 18:16 & Matthew 19:14 – NIV)

Granted, the United States is very much not Jesus, but there is a trend here. in that this same passage is evoked twice in the New Testament. In Matthew 18:5-6, Jesus says:

And anyone who welcomes a little child like this on my behalf is welcoming me. But if you cause one of these little ones who trusts in me to fall into sin, it would be better for you to have a large millstone tied around your neck and be drowned in the depths of the sea. (NLT)

So there’s stuff about welcoming children in the bible and not causing them harm, but what if they’re immigrants? Funny enough, the entire Bible is rife with admonishments to welcome the stranger (the foreigner or visitor), in both the Old and New Testament – in the Law and Prophets and from Jesus and Paul and the Epistles and Revelations. Oh, and remember the one passage that we got the word sodomy from? The sin of Sodom & Gomorrha wasn’t same sex attraction – it was inhospitality (one look).

Sodomy is being really terrible hosts to your guests, y’all.

But even apart from those Bible passages, for the secularists and all of us, it’s unfathomable that anybody would be so hardened against not just children, but refugees. As the ACLU points out, these children and families have rights in the US dating back to the 1940’s (after we turned away a boat of European Jews and sent them back to Germany and certain death, remember) to come to us and seek asylum. I’ve seen progressives say that we need to return these kids back to the communities they’ are running from, but that is not tenable now – they have made this journey risking everything to come to us for protection. No matter the feelings on immigration and borders – no matter our means or riches or poverty – we cannot legally or conscientiously turn our  backs now.

It’s important to note that many conservatives and Christians are pro-immigrant, such as my friend Joey Aszterbaum, who noted his Christian faith as a primary reason to join the Murrieta counter-protest. Joey, who lives near Murrieta, took his wife and kids along with homemade signs saying “Jesus Loves the Little Children” and “WWJD: Who Would Jesus Deport” to a town hall meeting at the local high school and was happy to report that he saw somebody else with the WWJD sign as well. He also noted that the anti-immigrant side was being vicious and cruel, attacking people on the other side. And he has pictures (courtesy of his wife’s photography work) to show it. He noted that the Latino contingency in the mixed group (representing white, black and brown people) had probably as many US flags as the all-white and older anti-immigrant crowd – who also brought in their Gadsden “Don’t Tread on Me” flags and signs against “Illegals”.

I asked Joey what he took away from his experience at that town hall meeting-cum-protest:

That there is a lot of fear. People are afraid for their jobs, their health, their children. I think this is exacerbated by the bad economy, the rancor in politics today, and Fox News’ style of hysterics before education.

That people don’t know where these refugees are coming from. They don’t know they are from Guatemala, Honduras, and El Salvador. They don’t know the conditions there, or why the “illegals” they are angry at are actually refugees. There’s no sense that people understand the history of the U.S. being a place of refuge for people from other nations.

But the biggest takeaway was that the pro-refugee crowd was far more religious than the anti- crowd. Not a single argument against had anything to do with religion, Christianity, or the Bible. This was a marked contrast. I guess even I believed the stereotypes that religion is the property of middle-class conservative whites. Or that religion doesn’t have anything relevant to say in regards to justice. I’m happy that faith, and in particular my own Christian faith, still has power to lift up people. There’s a history there: Dorothy Day, Dr. King. But even I start to believe the portrayals on TV and the net.

On the ground, Christianity still stands for liberation rather than self-interest, joy instead of fear.

Personally, I have hope that if we confront these anti-immigrant protesters with their own humanity – as Dr King argued about segregationists – and their holy books, if we make them face the very children they are booing, and the very real conditions those young people are coming from, I think we may see a change. Their fear is real, and that is how it is in most places globally where refugees find themselves. But that doesn’t erase our obligation, nor our humanity.


When he’s not riding both his city’s public transit system and evil mayor, Jasdye teaches at a community college and writes about the intersection of equality and faith - with an occasional focus on Chicago - at the Left Cheek blog and on the Left Cheek: the Blog Facebook page. Check out more from Jasdye in his archives as well!


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