Thursday, April 29, 2010

A Debate Worth Having

I have been following with much interest the recent debates regarding the current state of illegal immigration in America. In particular, I have been intrigued by the arguments surrounding the recent law passed in Arizona. As I try to process out my own thoughts and beliefs regarding illegal immigration I have come across the following facts. I do not profess to label either side as right or wrong but I think data has a place in the debate.

Here's where we are as far as illegal immigration in NC goes:

FAIR estimates in 2004 that the taxpayers of North Carolina spent $771.1 million per year on illegal aliens and their children in public schools.
As a school teacher being confronted daily with budget cuts and the utter poverty that many American citizens are living in, this one is hard for me. I find we fall further and further behind in serving students because our resources are spread too thin. Many school systems have resorted to begging their taxpayers for more money, but many families simply cannot afford more property taxes. We have to take a hard look at what we CAN reasonably offer people without putting all people and citizens at risk. It bothers me to think that my child will suffer in our public school system because of the resources being siphoned off in such large numbers.

FAIR’s projected annual fiscal costs to North Carolina taxpayers for emergency medical care, education and incarceration resulting if an amnesty plan is adopted for illegal residents:
Can the taxes brought in by legalizing immigrants really cover this gap? What jobs will these immigrants be taking- probably the same ones they are now, low paying jobs that will result in little to no tax responsibility. How many immigrants will be working highly skilled professional jobs, thus leading to a higher tax responsibility? I think the argument that legalizing immigrants will lead to more tax payers is flawed and simplistic.

In 2005 21.8 percent of immigrants in North Carolina had incomes below the poverty level, an increase of 50.7 percent since 2000
The saddest part of this statistic is that those most affected are often the children. I have a hard time punishing children for their parents deeds and so many of our illegal student base had no choice in coming to the US. Many are working hard to obtain their citizenship and I applaud that. I think perhaps our place for ministry is not to overturn or rebel against the laws put forth in this case, but to assist and support immigrants in their quest to go through the proper channels to become citizens. I think our ministry role-as the church, not the government- is also to watch over the basic human dignities of these "aliens in a foreign land" by feeding them when they are hungry, clothing them when they are poor, teaching them English so that they can operate within the larger societal systems, and showing them that God is bigger than any situation. What message to we send as Christians when we put such a large emphasis on the need to overthrow laws rather than rely on God's sovereignty and the daily physical ministry we as the church are called to do? Many people (Christian and non-christian) are up in arms over the "civil rights" of our illegal immigrants but what are they really doing to help make the situations so many illegals are in bearable? How many churches are reaching out to serve these groups? How many of us are in the schools helping these students adapt to the academics expected? How many of us are working at community centers to help these immigrants adjust to the US in a positive way, rather than going down the fast money path of drug dealing or gang banging?

I think as Christians it's time for us to STOP looking to the extremes and instead to focus on putting the rubber to the road when it comes to serving others as Christ has called us to. And in the meantime, I will support the rule of law in this country and the public officials who for good or bad, are under the sovereignty of God.

Friday, April 16, 2010

Ode to New York Part 2

Here are some pics from Summer in the City NYC 2001. More to come!

1. Team Photo- note the twin towers
2. The graffiti says it all
3. My action group
4. Waiting for the train
5. Some kids we tutored
6. St. Paul's church- now a spot to remember the victims of 9/11

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Ode to New York

Nine years is a long time. It’s a long time to long for a place and for people who have touched you so deeply. Nine years ago, at this time of year, I was praying, planning, and anticipating my summer project with Campus Crusade for Christ. A summer project that would change my heart, bless me richly, and remind me of the fragility of life in so many ways. In the summer of 2001, I was headed to New York City to spend 8 weeks surrounded by other college students determined to share God’s love with a city that would end up blessing us more than we could ever imagine. Little did we know that one month to the day after leaving, the city we had fallen in love with would be ripped apart by terrorism so heinous and so evil that our beloved city would take years to recover.

Every time spring rolls around I think about the city and all of the blessings I received from her. I think about the friends I made, the laughs we shared, and the growth that happened. I find myself often dividing my reflections into the personal and spiritual, and I smile so often when thinking about my summer. Personally, here are some of the memories and moment I cherish:

· Watching the sunset from the rooftop deck of my discipler’s apartment
· Getting up at 4:00 am with friends to head to the Today Show
· Getting up at 4:00 am to secure front row seats to the Broadway show Aida
· Walking through Central Park with my girls Liz and Caroline
· Laughing hysterically when my roommate said “Grace and Peace, and please be quiet I am trying to sleep”
· Laughing again hysterically after our room was searched for “stolen” offering plates- I mean really, what would we have done with those?
· Sharing a shower with 20 other girls and not complaining
· Falling asleep to the breeze of a fan and the sounds of the city
· Riding the subway to the end of the line and back again
· Having my quiet times in the corner window of Border’s at the WTC that overlooked St. Paul’s church
· $1.50 pizza, need I say more?
· Watching the 4th of July fireworks as they were fired from the Hudson River
· Watching tree branches smack my friends in the head as we rode a big blue bus (Blue Cheese) back from a camp retreat

There are a million more personal moments I could share but really, the greater blessing for me was a spiritual and emotional one. While there were uncountable blessings, I want to share a few:

· Spending time with 50 other college students of all backgrounds, all sharing one goal
· Making friends with incredible people who I still think of, pray for, and love even though time has separated us- love you Lizzy!
· Spending hours sitting on a curb with my BFF Liz talking about God, life, school, family- anything
· Getting to worship in churches all over the city, with a diverse group of people
· Getting to work with Daniel- a street prayer warrior- who left his heart on the streets with the people he met
· Serving up food at a homeless shelter and praying for the souls eating the meals
· Being in an incredible action group with some incredible young women, all of who taught me something about life through their own experiences
· By planning and praying over our weekly meetings- there is nothing like being in a small room, with no AC, singing praise songs with 50 other people
· Sitting in the weekly lecture of Tony Carnes (I later found out, an editor of Christianity Today), learning about the religious heritage of NYC
· Meeting so many awesome people in NYC and being convinced of the plan God has for that city and its people- even more so now post-9/11!

Can you see why I miss it just a little? I have GOT to get back there!

Pics will be posted soon- as soon as I figure out how to scan them!