Alabama pastor’s analysis of immigrant parent-child border separation controversy


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BORDER IMMIGRATION SITUATION? WHAT IS A CHRISTIAN VIEWPOINT?

(Editor’s note: This transcript is edited to reflect Wednesday’s news that President Trump signed an executive order meant to keep families together and stop border separation.)

TOM LAMPRECHT:  Harry, immigration is back in the headlines. It now appears there are illegal immigrants coming across with their families — at least there’s an appearance that they’re a family unit. If they’re seeking asylum and they don’t come in through a legal port of entry, the parents were being separated from the children. Individuals on one side are saying such a practice is cruel and inhumane and individuals on the other side said the U.S. was following the law.

Washington Free Beacon senior writer, Elizabeth Harrington, said that the Trump administration’s zero tolerance immigration policy was simply enforcing laws already on the book and meant to disincentivize people from entering the U.S. illegally.

DR. REEDER: From a Christian world and life view, you’ve got the necessity and the call to submit to lawful laws so is the immigration lawful? Secondly, you’ve got the institution of the family that is foundational to culture and that is foundational to the well-being of individuals so the separation of children from parents is never to be thoughtlessly embraced.

Is it right for a nation to determine its borders and immigration policies? Well, of course it is. We would say that about families, wouldn’t we? When you have a house, it’s okay to have doors and walls. The name of hospitality does not require you to abandon security for your family.

Well, the same thing is true for a nation. We are to be an immigration-friendly country. That has been our policy from the very beginning and that’s why we’ve got that Statue of Liberty — “Give me your poor, give me your helpless.” We’ll take them and we will see what the American culture can do in their lives with its Constitution, its Bill of Rights and its values.

REVISITING ELLIS ISLAND IMMIGRATION AND THAT MINDSET OF FAIR REFUGE

TOM LAMPRECHT: When immigrants came in and saw the statue of liberty, they did have to go through a process at Ellis Island.

DR. REEDER: Exactly, Tom, and that was in the era from the 1830s all the way to the mid-20th century when this nation had a very inviting immigration policy — but it did have a policy, it did have a process. There was and Ellis Island that you went to.

Is that valid from a Christian world and life view? Yes. Should we be immigrant friendly? Yes. Should we be welcoming? Yes. That is Biblical and it is historical for this nation. It’s good for the nation and it’s good for the immigrants to have a policy and a process.

Now, a second observation that I would make, when you violate the law, does it affect your personal life and your family? Yes. There are multiple laws that, when you violate those laws, it separates your family. There are people that go off into prison and their children are left behind.

THERE IS AN IMPORTANT ROLE OF THE CHURCH: SERVE THE PEOPLE IN CHARITY

That gets me to a third observation: What should the church do in cases like that? In this situation right now, we should bring analysis to the policy and the process and we should insist and speak to public policy and tell our government to have a welcoming but thoughtful immigration policy and process. In the present situation, the church of Jesus Christ should be reaching out to these individuals on a personal basis of ministry and on a personal basis, particular ministry, in the lives of families that are undergoing this separation — we need to be there. We’re going to minister to people — that’s what we’re going to do.

IMMIGRATION LAWS ARE A MESS, BUT DO FAMILIES NEED TO SUFFER TO PROVE A POINT?

Now, do I believe you need to have a law and a process? Absolutely. Will we submit to it? Yes, but the church is going to do its job of ministering to people made in the image of God. We’re going to feed people, we’re going to clothe people, we’re going to share the Gospel with people and we’re going to love people.

We have to ask ourselves a question: Do we have to separate families? I am fully aware that there is a tactic that is being used by the traffickers of illegal immigrants that says that the previous administration had set up a process so that, if you show up on the border, you’re not at a port of entry but you claim asylum and if you have children, they will let you in, tell you to report on a monthly basis and then you can kind of blend in. It became known as a tactic so, “Bring your children.” And then also the tactic of make up families that actually weren’t families, but actually the kidnapping of children, to put with adults to say that they’re families in order to gain this tactic.

Then our present administration is saying we are trying to do this to show people how horrific our lack of a policy is. This is a tactic to try to stop people from bringing children and it’s a tactic to try to get the Congress to come up with a policy so we don’t do this anymore.

TOM LAMPRECHT: Harry, to that end, the Department of Homeland Security Secretary, Kirstjen Nielsen, said this: “Surely, it’s the beginning of the unraveling of democracy when the body who makes the laws, rather than changing them, asks the body who enforces the laws not to enforce the laws. That cannot be the answer,” she said.

DR. REEDER: And I agree with her on that. I also think that you can think through how to enforce the laws in the least unnecessarily punitive way for the well-being of the defenseless, which I see as the children in this situation.

CALL TO ACTION FOR LAWMAKERS TO ACT IMMEDIATELY AND WISELY

Finally, let me just say this, as a pastor, from a Christian world and life view, not only am I pleading with the lawmakers of this nation to bite the bullet politically and do what needs to be done to get a welcoming yet clear policy and process of immigration in place and a resolve to enforce that policy through its laws.

Not only am I pleading with you to do that, but right now I’m asking you to find something else to do rather than separating children from their parents. I understand there are a number of these families that aren’t true families, but they are true children. My heart just goes out to these children and something has to be done.

What I find interesting is looking at the people who are appealing to the Bible to “let the children come unto me,” who are the same people who are supporting policies to kill those children in the womb. When I see that contradiction, Tom, I am overwhelmed. I see a politician politically grandstanding, quoting the Bible — “Suffer the children to come unto me” — and, at the same time, promoting a policy to kill children in their most defenseless place, which is in the womb. I find it so hard not to say, as the current generation says, “Just blow up my head,” at that moment. That’s exactly what it feels like to me.

THIS IS A SANCTITY OF LIFE ISSUE, TOO

However, on the other hand, to those who hold to the sanctity of life of children in the womb, you’ve got to find a way to affirm the sanctity of life of those children. Those are real children. Yes, they may be pawns and, yes, they may be being used by adults — yes to all of that — but they are still children and they cannot be taken away from parents unless it is absolutely essential. If we can find another way to do it, we’ve got to find another way to do it and I appeal to you to find another way to do it. Even if it’s creating a bigger and better funded Ellis Island approach, you’ve got to find a way to do that. That would be my exhortation.

Therefore, to our politicians: grow up and fix this thing. Fix it so that we are a refuge nation yet we are a nation that is secure and properly managing its borders. Secondly, affirm the sanctity of the family, and the sanctity of life and the sanctity of these children and find a way to do that while you uphold the law.

COMING UP MONDAY: POLITICANS QUOTING SCRIPTURE FOR OWN PURPOSES BUT WHAT DID IT REALLY MEAN?

TOM LAMPRECHT: Harry, let’s take one of our upcoming programs and go back to something you mentioned towards the close and that is politicians using the Bible both on the left and on the right to further their agendas, which is something we haven’t seen in awhile.

DR. REEDER: Am I glad to hear our politicians and elected officials using the Bible? Absolutely. But how do you use the Bible and what was Jesus saying when he said, “Suffer the children to come unto me,” and what was Paul saying when he said to be submissive to the governing authorities?

Is that a blanket obedience of every law as the Nazi regime said when it quoted that passage or is it a thoughtful call to always being under a governing authority, yet that does not mean the acceptance of unjust law and there comes a time you must obey God rather than man? Let’s talk about that in our next program.

Dr. Harry L. Reeder III is the Senior Pastor of Briarwood Presbyterian Church in Birmingham.

This podcast was transcribed by Jessica Havin, editorial assistant for Yellowhammer News, who has transcribed some of the top podcasts in the country and whose work has been featured in a New York Times Bestseller.

12 hours ago

Birmingham-Southern College to impose fee on unvaccinated students

Unless students of Birmingham-Southern College are vaccinated against COVID-19, those who attend the private liberal arts school will be forced to pay a $500 fee “to offset continual weekly antigen testing and quarantining.”

In an email sent to students, the college announced its pandemic protocols for those returning to campus for the fall semester. In what appears to be an effort to encourage students to receive the vaccine, BSC told students it will levy a monetary charge against those who are unvaccinated. The school cited the need for funding to be applied toward COVID-related mitigation measures as a reason for the charge.

The email reads in part, “Due to the lack of federal funds for pandemic precautions this term, all students will initially be charged $500 for the fall term to offset continual weekly antigen testing and quarantining. Students who are fully vaccinated prior to the beginning of fall term will receive an immediate $500 rebate.”

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The college announced in the email that it has also set separate move-in dates for vaccinated and unvaccinated students.

The College Republican Federation of Alabama (CRFA) has condemned the move as discriminatory against students who have chosen not to receive the vaccine.

“The College Republican Federation of Alabama condemns this obvious attack on students who are not vaccinated,” says CRFA chairman Clint Reid. “While vaccines are an important tool in the fight against COVID-19 we are still a free society where one should not be held at ransom to the tune of $500 if they do not feel the vaccine is the best course of action for them. We call on Birmingham-Southern College to drop this outrageous fee.”

The college’s email goes on to direct students who have been immunized against the virus to complete a “Vaccination Report Form.” BSC stated that the school’s goal is to achieve an 85% vaccination rate among students, faculty and staff.

Portion of the email sent to BSC students as follows obtained by Yellowhammer News: 

Birmingham-Southern College did not respond to a request for comment. Yellowhammer News has inquired with the Attorney General’s Office regarding the legality of BSC’s guidelines and will provide updates accordingly.

Dylan Smith is a staff writer for Yellowhammer News. You can follow him on Twitter @DylanSmithAL

13 hours ago

Tim James: A house divided against itself cannot stand

Last week the discussion of COVID vaccination burst into the news and ripped the scab right off the wound exposing the divide among Alabamians about whether to vaccinate or not. We all know there can be tense moments among friends and family when the vaccine topic comes up especially when there are differing opinions in the room.

Well, last week the discussion hit a fever pitch on a grand scale and landed on the front pages of the national news outlets. According to news reports, in Alabama, there are about 2.5 to 3 million people that have CHOSEN NOT to take the vaccine out of the state’s population of 5.1 million. Approximately 60% of all Alabamians have made this their personal health choice.

I am writing this letter today to express my distaste for those bent on shaming people in which they disagree on the vaccine issue. They divide Alabamians into two classes: the vaccinated and the unvaccinated. The media’s contempt is in overdrive for anyone that dares to disagree and not blindly follow the government directives. So, they shame by spewing their poison proclaiming the unvaccinated are the problem. Their assertion of “Blame” by extension means the unvaccinated are responsible for the spread of COVID. If you want to blame someone or something, blame the virus and the makers of it. As everybody knows, it was not the bats.

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The problem is not the unvaccinated, but rather those spawning division among the population. It’s the BLAME GAME.

They shake their fingers in the face of millions of Alabama citizens for refusing to take the vaccine and are beside themselves when everyone does not fall in line like sheep. I guess the unvaccinated are the “New Deplorables.”

I’ve listened to their shaming long enough and felt it was time to stand up for millions of Alabamians that have made their decision, over the many months, NOT to take the vaccine. I fall into this category; however, like most families I have family members that have chosen TO take the vaccine. Alabamians know full well what is going on in their communities, local hospitals, nursing homes and churches. They are not ignorant to the medical realities and associated risks. Neither are they reckless or selfish.

Every unvaccinated person has considered whether to take the vaccine for months. They have discussed the matter with others, prayed about it and even may have tolled back and forth on the decision. In the end, their “call” was to not take the vaccine for their own personal reasons. I can’t help but wonder why so many vaccinated people lecture everyone else when they themselves have marginal health risk as they are the vaccinated class.

Has it occurred to them that their shaming is certain to follow children into the classroom in the form of bullying? Do they care about young women in childbearing years who are rightfully cautious about what goes into their bodies? It’s ironic that people that CHOOSE NOT to take the vaccine are labeled dissenters even though they are the majority in Alabama and cross all races and political lines.

Going forward I want to encourage people to take a deep breath and stand back from the situation. COVID, of course can be lethal, but at the same time the odds of fatality are extremely low. This is one of those times when we must not succumb to fear. Fear is the root from which anxiety and worry bud.

Fear is a weapon used to manipulate the public, and the press is its enabler. The Lord speaks to the issue of fear through the Apostle Paul. “For God hath not given a spirit of fear but of power and sound mind” – 2 Timothy 1:7

I also would like to take this opportunity to say something about Governor Ivey’s statement last week concerning unvaccinated Alabamians. She said, “It’s time to start blaming the unvaccinated folks, not the regular folks. It’s the unvaccinated folks that are letting us down.”

The unvaccinated people represent approximately 60% of the population in our state. The Governor’s comments triggered uncontrollable elation and gaiety from politicians and news anchors at CNN, NBC and others. As one could expect, President Biden and Dr. Fauci were ecstatic at Alabamians being scolded by their Governor over this issue. I believe the Governor’s comments were off-base. I also believe she likely misspoke in the heat of the moment; something any of us could do. As we navigate forward, we need to lower the tone and not take the bait of those whose goal is to sow seeds of division amongst Alabamians.

I have a message for the American press corps concerning their hysterical, fear-based coverage of the pandemic.

It’s a quote from Edward R. Murrow, the great broadcast journalist during the first half of the 20th century.

He effectively warned his fellow journalists what would happen if the free press became compromised. He wrote: “No one can terrorize a whole nation unless we are his accomplices.”

Tim James, the son of former Gov. Fob James, is a Greenville, Alabama businessman. He was a 2010 GOP candidate for governor.

13 hours ago

Regions names Jason Isbell senior vice president of state government affairs and economic development

Regions Bank has tapped one of the state’s foremost experts on banking law and government affairs to serve as senior vice president of state government affairs and economic development.

Jason Isbell comes to the Birmingham-based bank brandishing nearly two decades of legal and government affairs experience in the public and private sectors.

Elizabeth Taylor, head of government affairs and economic development for Regions, highlighted Isbell’s depth of knowledge and relationships throughout the industry.

“Regions Bank has a strong history of working with government leaders and other stakeholder groups on issues impacting our associates, customers and communities,” Taylor said in a statement to Yellowhammer News. “Jason Isbell brings a wealth of knowledge and experience on a variety of financial services matters to this role. His work building relationships and navigating a myriad of legislative issues will serve us well. We look forward to his service advancing economic development opportunities that move our communities forward while also building on the strong relationships we have in the areas Regions serves.”

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Isbell most recently worked with Maynard Cooper & Gale where he represented a wide array of clients, including Regions, as an attorney and lobbyist in the firm’s Government Solutions Group.

Prior to his time at Maynard Cooper, he held the position of vice president for legal and governmental affairs at the Alabama Bankers Association (ABA). Isbell was charged with implementing ABA’s legislative and regulatory agendas at both the state and federal levels. He honed his skills in public policy during his 11 years in state government, first as a fiscal analyst for the Alabama Legislative Fiscal Office and then as general counsel to the Speaker of the House of Representatives.

Isbell is a member of the Faulkner University board of trustees and is a graduate of the school’s Thomas Goode Jones School of Law.

Regions Financial Corporation recently reported $748 million in second quarter earnings. The company cited strategic decisions in high-growth areas, such as Florida, Texas and Tennessee, as contributing to those earnings.

Isbell noted the momentum of the bank’s growth and influence throughout its footprint as he prepares for this new endeavor.

“I’m excited to represent an institution with such a rich history and stellar reputation,” he told Yellowhammer News. “Regions Bank is poised to continue making a positive impact on communities in Alabama and beyond. I’m grateful for this opportunity and look forward to being part of the Regions team.”

Isbell is set to officially join the bank in mid-August.

RELATED: Joia M. Johnson appointed to Regions board of directors

Tim Howe is an owner of Yellowhammer Multimedia

14 hours ago

State Rep. Wes Allen: Biden administration’s mixed message on COVID shows he doesn’t put Americans first

The Biden administration is issuing warnings to Americans regarding the increasing number of COVID cases across the country. Calls for a return to mask-wearing and social distancing are becoming more frequent from the President and his advisors.

Businesses, large and small, fear the possibility of mandated shutdowns that plagued our nation last year. Parents are wondering if they will be forced to face the inadequacies and challenges of remote schooling again. These are all worries that are being forced upon law-abiding, tax-paying Americans by the Biden administration.

But it goes further. Our northern border with Canada remains closed to non-essential travel for fear of spreading the virus. Biden and his team cited concerns over the Delta variant as the reason for banning travel from 26 nations including most of Europe, South Africa and Brazil.

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This all seems like a concerned President who is trying to save our nation from the death and damage of a pandemic. But a closer look at Biden’s policies proves that his concern is not for Americans and he has little to no desire to stop the spread of COVID from coming across our border.

His policy that allows thousands of illegal immigrants to move freely across our southern border and into our towns, neighborhoods, restaurants and schools without any regard for their immigration status or their COVID test results prove that the Biden administration doesn’t care about America or Americans. Is the health of Americans, the success of our economy and the fate of our schools and health care system of any concern to this President or his advisors?

I think not.

State Rep. Wes Allen is a Republican candidate for Alabama Secretary of State.

14 hours ago

Alabama League of Municipalities launches Economic Development Academy

The Alabama League of Municipalities (ALM) on Thursday announced the creation of its Economic Development Academy, which will partner with local leaders in an educational capacity to offer their assistance regarding business and industry recruitment practices.

Developed in conjunction with the Alabama Community College System (ACCS) and supported by an advisory council of industry leaders, the Academy will engage local leaders and help them further understand their role in the economic development process.

The Academy is specifically designed to educate and engage municipal officials and designated community business leaders on best practices and strategies for successful economic and community development. Additionally, the ALM says the Academy will focus on the role of elected officials regarding evaluating abatements, legal processes and implications, correctly marketing the community, gaging the community’s expectations, workforce development as well as other key aspects of the development process.

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ALM says the Academy is unique from other economic development programs in that it is tailored to municipal officials using a team model. The mayor or another designated elected or administrative official and at least two council members are required to participate from each community to form a team of up to five members.

In promoting the new program, ALM executive director Greg Cochran conveyed the importance of economic development efforts that take place at the local level.

“Our organization is pleased to collaborate with the Alabama Community College System and Neal Wade to launch the ALM Economic Development Academy,” said Cochran. “It is our goal for the Academy to develop intentional programming and identify resources to empower our municipal officials so they can create legacy programs and projects within their cities and towns. Municipalities are the foundation of our state’s economy, and it is the League’s mission to provide our members the necessary tools to build a community where citizens can live, work, play and prosper and where businesses can thrive.”

The Academy will take place over a full year and consists of an orientation; four one-day sessions that include community assignments; and a special graduation ceremony. To graduate, participants must conduct an economic vitality survey of their communities; complete a community assessment/project; and attend all sessions.

At the conclusion of the year-long program, graduates will be presented a certificate of municipal economic development from the League and ACCS.

Neal Wade, former head of the Alabama Development Office as well as a consultant for Alabama Power, The St. Joe Company and the Economic Development Partnership of Alabama, has been tapped to develop the Academy’s curriculum and conduct the classes.

“The objective is for Alabama communities to be the best they can be and competitive for growth and new revenue,” Wade said. “Setting realistic expectations for each community will be foremost.”

In addition to working with Wade, the League has developed a partnership with ACCS to provide classroom space and workforce development resources for Academy participants. The four mandatory sessions for selected municipalities will be conducted at ACCS campuses throughout the state based on each region.

Chancellor Jimmy Baker praised the partnership and expressed his optimism on the potential growth opportunities he believes can stem from the Academy.

“At Alabama’s community colleges, everything we do is workforce development – from education and training to providing wraparound services and hosting community events,” Baker said. “We are honored to work alongside the Alabama League of Municipalities to launch the Economic Development Academy and host its participants at our campuses across the state. Education is so often the linchpin to positive change and the resources and training this effort will provide will have a positive impact on Alabama for years to come.”

An Academy Advisory Council has been developed to add input, assist with training and provide additional resources to the process. The Council consists of state and federal government agencies, ACCS presidents, utility partners, League strategic partners, local economic developers and statewide business associations.

Academy applications will be accepted via the League’s website July 29 – August 31. Applicants will be thoroughly evaluated and candidates chosen by mid-September. There is a community fee to participate.

Those interested in attending the Academy may apply via online application at almonline.org.

Dylan Smith is a staff writer for Yellowhammer News. You can follow him on Twitter @DylanSmithAL