The “migration relocation” activities of governors who openly profess Christian faith is cruel and anti-biblical.

Governor Abbott has spent $13 million Texas tax dollars to summarily “relocate” some 9,000 asylum-seekers across the country, not out of benevolence, but in a callous and cynical fashion.

Florida Governor DeSantis recently sent two planes to San Antonio (perhaps with Abbott’s connivance) to airlift 50 Venezuelan men, women, and children and unceremoniously dump them in Martha’s Vineyard, Massachusetts.

They reported that a woman “Perla” recruited them, guaranteeing work, housing, and legal assistance at their destination, which turned out to be but the promise of a charlatan.

DeSantis brags that he will spend $12 million Florida tax dollars for his crass political theater at the expense of poor, scared immigrants.

People are fleeing their countries because of oppressive regimes like Venezuela and Nicaragua and others, such as Honduras and Columbia, reeking in corruption that has skewed national economies, oppressing the poor even more bitterly than before.

Men, women, and children walk thousands of miles, facing brutal “coyotes,” mercenaries, and marauders because they feel they have no other choice. Many of our ancestors made the perilous journey here from Europe and other places because of similar need and no other viable choice. There is no easy solution, regardless of how the governors posture. Migration is at an all-time level because of the sheer number of severe worldwide crises. 

Politicians have kicked the immigration can down the road for decades, and it has caught up with us.

According to the U.S. Customs and Border Protection, 7,216 people have died crossing the U.S–Mexico border between 1998 and 2017. This year, 750 have died, perishing in the desert or drowning. There is no disputing that this is an undercount, and there is no pretense at an accurate count of how many thousands have succumbed on the journey even before reaching the United States.

People are fleeing the very governments against which our foreign policy is aimed, and we wonder why? No gets up in the morning and nonchalantly decides to risk a dangerous journey of thousands of miles, knowing that they may die on the way, be brutalized, maimed, or tortured.

The people whom Abbott and DeSantis have been spiriting away for their crass personal political agendas have tentative legal status in the country, that is, they have submitted applications for asylum, with hearings that are months, if not years, away. They remain on bond meanwhile.

This is not to say that calling upon the rest of the country to shoulder the Texas’ burden isn’t a worthy goal, but our Scriptures require this be done humanely and with respect to each person’s dignity.

We have called upon other states in the nation to share refugee burdens in the past, and are doing this now for all kinds of refugee groups, Afghans being one. We did it during the 1980 Mariel Boatlift when people were pushed out of Cuba by Fidel Castro’s oppressive regime; 125,000 refugees were accommodated across the country.

Given the current shakiness and disarray of the Texas school system, it’s hard to fathom why Abbott would purloin $13 million in scarce funds for his political agenda. However, if he is going to use our tax money, we call upon him in the name of the faith he practices to do this humanely, to work with other states to help them receive the immigrants.

Abbott (and DeSantis) could apply tax money to the other end of the immigrants’ journey – to assist other communities accommodate them, to help migrants temporarily support their families, and to make certain their legal paperwork gets transferred.

Our Scriptures are clear. From the Hebrew Bible’s injunctions to “welcome the stranger” to the Good Samaritan parable, people of faith are called to be compassionate. Welcoming strangers – right now – means providing for migrants in their time of crisis and not humiliating and degrading them by dragging them into political chicanery.

Editor’s Note: The above guest column was penned jointly by the Rev. James C. Harrington, priest at Proyecto Santiago, St. James’ Episcopal Church in Austin, and the Rev. T. Carlos Anderson, Director of Austin City Lutherans in Austin, Texas. Both are pictured above. The column appears in The Rio Grande Guardian International News Service with the permission of the authors. Harrington can be reached by email via [email protected] Anderson can be reached by email via [email protected]

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