Ed McKinney

Ed McKinney

How would you respond if you saw a stranger on the side of the road who appeared to have been beaten, stripped of clothing and left half dead? Surely, you have heard or read the story of the Good Samaritan as told by Jesus in the Gospel of Luke.

An expert in the law had asked Jesus, “What must I do to inherit eternal life?” Jesus replied, “What is written in the law?” The expert answered, “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind; and love your neighbor as yourself.” Jesus replied that the answer given was correct. The expert in the law then asked Jesus, “Who is my neighbor?”

The parable told by Jesus in the Gospel of Luke said a man was going from Jerusalem to Jericho when he was attacked by robbers. They stripped him of his clothes, beat him and left him half dead. A priest going down the same road saw the wounded man and passed on the other side. A Levite came by and passed on the other side of the road also. Neither offered any help.

A third person, a Samaritan, happens upon the traveler and stops to help. The parable said when he saw the wounded traveler the Samaritan took pity on him and bandaged his wounds using oil and wine. Placing the wounded traveler on his own donkey, the Samaritan took him to an inn and took care of him. The next day the Samaritan prepaid the innkeeper and asked him to look after the wounded traveler. He said, “When I return, I will reimburse you for any extra expense you may have.”

Jesus asked the expert in the law, “Which of these three do you think was a neighbor to the man who fell into the hands of robbers?” The expert in the law replied, “The one who had mercy on him.” Jesus said, “Go and do likewise.”

Samaritans were despised enemies of the Jews. Yet, it was a Samaritan who was the hero in the parable. The parable offers a vision of life rather than death. Compassion has no boundaries, and judging people on the basis of their religion, ethnicity, or the color of their skin could leave you not inheriting eternal life.

To the south of our border along Mexico are individuals, including children, who have traveled by walking from their own ravaged and economically poor country seeking a better life. Some have been threatened, some beaten, and most all have been denied an opportunity to have a decent life. Countries suffered devastating hurricanes last summer.

They are traveling to the United States because they heard that life is better and there are more opportunities. Some have family members (aunts, uncles, cousins) who are already legally living in the United States. Most all of these individuals are church members.

So the question is “Who is my neighbor? And what should our response be?” Following the response from the parable as written in the Gospel of Luke, we should show mercy on our neighbors to the south of our border and help them.

Those elected to Congress to represent all of us should have already arrived at an answer to help solve the problem we as a country are experiencing. This is a problem that has been around for more than a decade and has grown worse in the last five years because countries to our south have had poor government leadership, weather related devastation and less financial and humanitarian help from the United States.

When you have no employment and you are starving, you feel your only solution is to leave. Hopelessness abounds among those traveling to the north seeking something better.

The current administration has stated that those seeking to come to the United States should stay in their communities and apply to enter the United States legally from their own community. They should not be traveling toward the United States. The border is closed. Remember, their world of information has no resemblance to your world of information.

As a country we must have representatives in foreign countries that can spread the word for applying in their own communities and to help with the application process. To get those individuals who will represent our country in different countries takes time.

This administration has been in office less than 100 days. Not all of the cabinet members have been approved by Congress. The Congressional approval process has been deliberately slow. Congress is not in session for the next two weeks, again.

In the parable, two out of the three offered no help. In a recent poll, 41% of Americans support the administration’s handling of immigration and 45% do not. According to the parable, the majority ignored what they had seen.

Just recently the U.S. Customs and Border Patrol agents reported they were holding more than 5,000 of the more than 16,000 unaccompanied children in custody.

It is more than a crossing of unaccompanied children. Congress has failed to do their job in solving our growing immigration problem.

The current administration exempted unaccompanied children from the policy known as Title 42. That policy, issued on public health grounds (COVID-19) allowed for expelling migrants caught crossing the southern border back into Mexico. The policy still exists and is enforced, contrary to what some politicians are saying publicly. Illegal crossings have always existed.

The change is about compassion for unaccompanied children. How should you treat a 10 year-old child? Should they be returned to the Mexico border and forgotten? Should we just pass on the other side of the road?

After a 72 hour legal limit, children are to be transferred from CBP to the custody of health officials in the Office of Refugee Resettlement. Because of pandemic restrictions and cold weather in the southern U.S. there has been a delay in processing.

ORR facilities are better equipped to take children because their shelters feature play areas, classrooms and counseling services. This is the organization that is also tasked with finding families or homes where the children will remain until their immigration claim can be heard by the courts.

Hostile messaging by Tennessee politicians does not provide a solution to a problem. Our elected politicians should represent us by working together to find a compassionate appropriate solution to a solvable immigration problem.

Community Voices columnist Ed McKinney of Johnson City is a retired business educator.

Recommended for you