Deportation is too steep a penalty

This issue that weighs heavily on my mind and heart is that of immigration reform.

As Christians, we are called into relationship. We are called into a relationship of love.

This calling is summarized in the two great Commandments that we hear about in the Law and the Prophets: We are called to love God with all our heart, with all our soul and with all our mind. Likewise, we are called to love our neighbor as ourself.

Who is this neighbor that we hear about and are called to love?

Christian tradition tells us that our neighbor is whomever appears before us in any given situation. Neighbors come in all sizes, shapes and colors. We are called to love each neighbor just as God loves each one of us.

I have seen firsthand the toll it takes on an individual and family to be “living in the shadows,” afraid of being caught in our country because they are here escaping poverty and looking for a better quality of life.

I have seen fear in the faces of children and young adults and the elderly, and it breaks my heart.

That is why I believe we must change our current approach. Some undocumented residents arrived in the United States many years ago as children or young adults.

Our system has not provided them with the ability to atone for their mistake without the threat of deportation — a penalty that is far too steep for those who have built a new life in the United States.

The compromise that has been offered — payment of a penalty for their illegal entry and the payment of any back taxes — seems fair and appropriate, as it keeps families together and productive.

Because I believe that all people are viewed equally in the eyes of God, I urge support for immigration reform.

The Rev. Canon Susan Colley Joplin is the Canon for Pastoral Care and Spirituality at St. Paul’s Cathedral in Oklahoma City.

Opinions expressed on the commentary page, in letters to the editor and elsewhere in this newspaper are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of ownership or management.

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