From the Declaration of Independence:
We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.
Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free
I will use the passages above, which are “as American as apple pie”, to frame all of the Immigration Orange Lessons. This is because the lessons are directed at U.S. citizens. I encourage readers to consider them in this discussion of justice, as well.
For this discussion, however, I will skim thousands of years of knowledge in the world’s religions. I believe the universe is on the side of justice, and I think religion provides the best fodder to deeply reflect on this concept.
Millions of migrants in the U.S. suffer from fear, prejudice, and persecution simply because they seek “Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of Happiness.” It is very difficult to come up with a greater injustice. All of the migrant denigration, and marginalization in the world cannot take away the fact that migrants are suffering from global injustice. Anyone who denies this injustice is blind.
For moral guidance on how one should act in the face of injustice, I think Muslims make the best case:
O ye who believe! stand out firmly for justice, as witnesses to God, even as against yourselves, or your parents, or your kin, and whether it be (against) rich or poor: for God can best protect both. Follow not the lusts (of your hearts), lest ye swerve, and if ye distort (justice) or decline to do justice, verily God is well-acquainted with all that ye do. [Qu’ran 4:135]
As I humbly understand this passage, it is taken to mean that one must “stand out for justice, even if it is against ourselves, our families, or against the rich or the poor”. Many anti-migrant advocates will recognize the injustices that migrants face but they refuse to act against them, or “stand out for justice”. Even worse, anti-migrant advocates will justify all manner of horrendous practices against migrants because they pretend to be the champions of U.S. citizens.
First of all, it is not in the interests of U.S. citizens to treat migrants and the countries that they come from with hostility or apathy. Although I will leave this argument for another day, it is this hostility and apathy that has forced many migrants unto the doorsteps of U.S. citizens in the first place. Even then, I think one has to stand for justice “even as against ourselves”. I can already imagine the hate I am going to be a target of for quoting the Qu’ran.
For moral guidance on how one should act towards migrants, my favorite passage comes from The Bible.
Ye shall have one manner of law, as well for the stranger, as for one of your own country: for I am the LORD your God.
Finally, I will come to one of my favorite religious passages on this subject which is attributed to Baha’u’llah of the Baha’i faith.
The earth is but one country, and mankind its citizens.
I think people will be uncomfortable with my choice of appealing to religion in this discussion of justice. To be just is to be morally right, and the world’s religions have been discussing moral truths for milleniums. Some would say discarding lessons they have to teach is sinful. I just think it’s stupid.
Only the blind can deny that migrants are facing widespread global injustice. Injustice cannot be ignored, it has to be acted upon. One does not cease to act on injustice simply because it crosses national boundaries or it involves the citizens of other nations. Migrants are suffering from injustice and when I write about people I am asking them what to do about it. If this injustice is not addressed then I consider it a derailment of the conversation. Again, I will respond criticism of this reasoning in the comments of this post only, when I have the time.
I case I have not been preachy enough I will end on a quote from the New Testament, Hebrews 13:2:
Be not forgetful to entertain strangers: for thereby some have entertained angels unawares.
The people you deny access to could be the ones that save you.