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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.

7 hours ago

Geneva County Commission strips funding for school resource officer program

The Geneva County Commission has placed the Geneva County School system in a bind after it pulled funds committed to the school resource officer (SRO) program.

Per a Dothan Eagle report, the county commission voted in June to give $15,000 to the SRO program this year, including an additional $60,000 next year.

After commissioners found that the budget would not balance, they realized that the promised funding for the SRO program could not be provided.

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Fred Hamic, chairman of the Geneva County Commission, sent a letter informing Superintendent Becky Birdsong of the decision and included a $15,000 check.

Birdsong said she was “disappointed,” but assured she will work hard to ensure the SRO program remains in place.

“I am disappointed, but I am still committed to doing what’s right for our students,” Birdsong told Dothan Eagle. “We don’t want parents to be concerned that this is going to make our schools less safe. I’m not saying we have the money now, but I am going to work on this and try to secure funding for this.”

Birdsong said that she is working with parents to increase security on school campuses in the schools she oversees.

@RealKyleMorris is a Yellowhammer News contributor and also contributes weekly to The Daily Caller

7 hours ago

Steve Marshall talks liberal tech bias, joins select group of national officials tackling the issue

Alabama Attorney General Steve Marshall on Tuesday joined a select group of state attorneys general for “a productive dialogue” led by Attorney General Jeff Sessions and other Department of Justice (DOJ) officials regarding perceived discrimination against conservatives by leading tech companies.

Per a DOJ release, “The discussion centered on ways the Department and state governments can most effectively safeguard consumers using online digital platforms. Each state attorney general’s office shared their views of the important issues for federal and state authorities to consider when addressing these evolving technologies. The discussion principally focused on consumer protection and data privacy issues, and the bipartisan group of attendees sought to identify areas of consensus.”

In a statement to Yellowhammer News, Marshall – who joined the meeting by teleconference – made it clear that there was a long way to go before reaching a consensus on how to tackle the complicated issues of tech transparency and bias, saying, “To the degree that there was any consensus, it is that we still have a lot to learn about how to best protect consumer interests in this context.”

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“Today I participated in a bipartisan meeting of several state Attorneys General, hosted by Attorney General Sessions, to discuss consumer protection concerns related to the tech industry. The conversation covered many of the same concerns raised in recent Congressional hearings,” Marshall outlined.

He continued, “I appreciated the invitation to participate and was interested to hear the perspectives of the various states represented. To the degree that there was any consensus, it is that we still have a lot to learn about how to best protect consumer interests in this context.”

The DOJ, which was represented at the meeting by Sessions, Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, Principal Deputy Associate Attorney General Jesse Panuccio, Assistant Attorney General Makan Delrahim, Acting Assistant Attorney General John Gore and other senior staff, explained, “Many shared the view that it is essential for federal and state law enforcement authorities to work together to ensure that these challenges are addressed responsibly and effectively.”

Sessions’ DOJ will review the information and insights shared by the state attorneys general and expects the constructive dialogue will continue moving forward. Marshall, in an interview earlier Tuesday morning with Talk 99.5’s Matt Murphy and Andrea Lindenberg, made it clear that he prefers a market-based solution as opposed to stifling government regulation.

“It is a field that I think we need to tread very lightly,” Marshall explained. “You look at the ability of government to regulate – I think we do the military well and everything else is a struggle. So I think we need to be very, very careful in how we tread in that regard.”

The argument from some is that social media platforms are like modern-day utilities.

“You hear it coming more from Democratic AG’s across the country … it’s why, I think, you have to be very careful, because the market itself has the ability to regulate and one of the things that we have to do from the government side is do not tread into the world of antitrust lightly,” Marshall outlined.

Alabama’s attorney general used Google as an example, saying consumers have multiple choices in search engines, free online email providers and the web browsers themselves (Safari, Chrome, Internet Explorer, Mozilla, etc.).

“It is important, however, when you do hear the stories of internally that Google may be directing people for political purposes that otherwise is not disclosed. That is concerning,” Marshall said.

For Marshall, the questions of whether these tech companies should allow their left-leaning biases to affect consumers “need to be asked, whether or not government needs to get involved in that, however, is a different story.”

Marshall summarized that his overall view is the tech services need to be held accountable to being open and honest with what they are doing and then the market can effectively take care of the rest. If consumers do not like what the services are doing, competition, not the government, should be the counterbalance.

“To the extent that there is transparency, I think it’s a good thing. Across the spectrum, whether it be private business or in government, and in this field particularly, if they are able to respond to questions about how it is that they control content and what they do, then I think we all have knowledge and then can make decisions ourselves,” he advised.

Sean Ross is a staff writer for Yellowhammer News. You can follow him on Twitter @sean_yhn

8 hours ago

Strong like Samson, tough like Benaiah and wise like Solomon -Thomas Cox reveals his plan for himself and raising his kids

Finding the time to do everything in a day is tough, but Thomas Cox shared his secrets on “The Ford Faction.”

In this episode, Thomas Cox from Mealfit.co discussed where his parenting techniques come from and how he finds time to execute them. He breaks down the processes he does with each of his children.

First, he teaches them to be strong like Samson. He wants his kids to be strong in many ways: mentally, physically, socially and spiritually.

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Second, Thomas wants his kids to be tough like Benaiah.

He said, “Toughness is one of the biggest parts of our lives we have to get better at so we can adapt to what’s happening around us.”

Finally, you have to be wise like Solomon.

Thomas told host Ford Brown, “I think if you’re not spending a lot of your day on self-development, you are missing the boat.”

Subscribe to the Yellowhammer Radio Presents The Ford Faction podcast on iTunes or Stitcher.

Rep. Byrne: Breaking down Tax Reform 2.0

Since Congress passed the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act last year, the American economy is booming, and Alabama families have more money in their pockets. By lowering taxes and simplifying the tax code, we have unlocked our economic potential and made life better for hardworking Americans.

The economic numbers speak for themselves: higher wages, lower unemployment, more jobs, bigger paychecks, employee bonuses and much more. Under the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, the average family in Southwest Alabama will see their tax bill decrease by $2,187 a year.

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The good news is that we aren’t stopping here. This week, the House is expected to vote on additional changes and improvements to the tax code, something we are calling Tax Reform 2.0. Working with President Trump, we will continue to make the tax code even fairer and more competitive.

Tax Reform 2.0 includes three major pieces. Here’s a quick overview.

First, we want to make the tax cuts for small businesses and middle-class families permanent. Due to Democrat obstruction and arcane rules in the Senate, the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act was only able to lower taxes for ten years. Under Tax Reform 2.0, we will make the tax cuts permanent.

The non-partisan Tax Foundation found that making the middle-class and small business tax cuts permanent will create 1.5 million new jobs and increase gross domestic product (GDP) by 2.2%. This further expands our economy and makes life even better for families and small businesses.

Making these changes permanent, will also lock-in the simpler tax filing process. As you may remember, the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act simplified the tax code to the point where many Americans are now able to complete their taxes on a postcard-style form. A Tax Foundation study shows that this will save Americans between $3.1 to $5.4 billion in compliance costs. Instead of needing an accountant to navigate the complicated code, most Americans will be able to file on their own.

Second, Tax Reform 2.0 promotes family savings and helps more Americans plan for retirement. Currently, too many Americans have been unable to save for retirement or put money aside to cover unforeseen emergencies.

We want to help small businesses provide retirement plans to their workers by allowing small businesses to join together to create a 401(k) plan more affordable and by giving employers more time to put new retirement plans in place. Just as important, we will help more workers participate in retirement plans by exempting small retirement accounts from mandatory payouts and by eliminating the age limit on IRA contributions.

We don’t stop there. Tax Reform 2.0 will create and expand additional programs to help Americans save. For example, our plan creates a new savings account to offer a fully flexible savings tool that families can use at any time right for them, expands 529 education savings accounts, and creates a new baby savings program to help with the birth of a new child or an adoption.

Finally, Tax Reform 2.0 will help grow the economy by promoting start-up businesses and spurring innovation. We do this by allowing new businesses to write off more of their initial start-up costs and by making it easier for start-ups to bring in new investors. America must lead the way on innovation.

As you can tell, Tax Reform 2.0 builds upon our efforts in the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act to ensure the American economy remains strong. We do that by allowing Americans to keep more of their hard-earned money in their pockets. I fundamentally believe our country is the strongest when money is with the people instead of the government.

U.S. Rep. Bradley Byrne is a Republican from Fairhope.

9 hours ago

Ivey, Merrill celebrate National Voter Registration Day – ‘Easy to vote and hard to cheat’

Tuesday is recognized as National Voter Registration Day (NVRD), which Alabama Governor Kay Ivey and Secretary of State John Merrill celebrated by encouraging all of the state’s eligible voters to register.

The annual occasion is the largest single-day drive to register voters of the year. Merrill joined hundreds of different partners around the nation to observe NVRD, with Merrill specifically encouraging a “voter refresh” effort to update state voter rolls with correct information about Alabama citizens.

“Since I became Secretary of State, we have registered more than a million new voters who have helped us shatter state records for voter registration and participation in our elections,” Merrill said in a release.

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“But we also want our voter rolls to be up-to-date, so we are urging everyone to take a moment to make sure their current address is correct in the state system. We are pleased to participate in this special day that encourages more participation in our electoral process. We continue to work daily to make sure every eligible U.S. citizen in our state is registered to vote and has a photo ID. We want to make it easy to vote and hard to cheat,” Merrill continued.

NVRD, held on every fourth Thursday of September since 2012, is endorsed by the National Association of Secretaries of State and the National Association of State Election Directors. Since 2012, more than 1.4 million people around the nation have registered to vote or update their registration as part of this event alone. This year, libraries, schools and other partners will hold local voter registration drives.

Since Merrill took office, Alabama has registered 1,064,616 new voters, bringing the state’s total to 3,418,839 as of September 7. Yellowhammer State residents can update their voter registration information by downloading the “Vote for Alabama” app on a smartphone or visiting the Secretary of State website here.

“There is no freedom more integral to this Republic than the right to vote and participate in our democratic process,” Merrill emphasized. “I am so proud we are able to work with the partners involved with National Voter Registration Day to help make increased participation a reality here in the state of Alabama.”

Sean Ross is a staff writer for Yellowhammer News. You can follow him on Twitter @sean_yhn