December 17th, 2010
02:18 PM ET

My Take: Christians should keep the Dream Act alive

Editor's Note: Carlos Campo is a member of Conservatives for Comprehensive Immigration Reform and president of Regent University in Virginia Beach, Virginia.

By Carlos Campo, Special to CNN

As we hear the (ominous for some, joyous for others) sound of the door slamming shut on the Dream Act, Christians in America are left to wonder if this is a missed opportunity or the exercise of justice.

Not all share my opinion that the Dream Act was not window dressing for a hidden amnesty agenda, but a reasonable step in confronting the complex issue of how best to deal with the millions of undocumented immigrants who now call America home.

The Rev. Samuel Rodriguez, one of the most articulate and compassionate Christian voices for Latinos in America, has stressed that Christians must embrace “a solution that emphasizes assimilation and justice.”

Others, like Alan F. H. Wisdom, vice president of the Institute on Religion and Democracy, argue: “Alongside the biblical teachings about hospitality to strangers also stand the teachings about the rule of law.”

Surely, Portia’s famous lines from Shakespeare’s "The Merchant of Venice" come to mind, as she declares that mercy “is an attribute to God Himself,” and further cautions Shylock to:

Consider this,
that, in the course of justice, none of us
should see salvation. We do pray for mercy;
and that same prayer doth teach us all to render
the deeds of mercy.

Of course — as many others have pointed out — Portia seems to forget her very words when she later joins others to lash out at Shylock, who responds to their attack with:

I am a Jew. Hath not a Jew eyes?
Hath not a Jew hands, organs, dimensions,
senses, affections, passions?
fed with the same food, hurt with the same weapons,
subject to the same diseases, healed by the same means,
warmed and cooled by the same winter and summer,
as a Christian is?

If you prick us, do we not bleed?
If you tickle us, do we not laugh?
If you poison us, do we not die?

We cannot read these lines and not be tempted to rephrase the speech and ask, “Hath not the undocumented eyes?” Will they not “bleed?”

America bears some responsibility for the immigration issue we now face. We did not (and still do not, in my mind) properly secure our borders. In fact, from the ‘70s through the ‘90s, we gladly allowed immigrants — especially from Mexico — to flood into our country to help deal with labor shortages.

These immigrants helped reduce the costs on goods from strawberries to new housing, and became the backbone of our service industry. Most statistics indicate that they were more law-abiding than the average citizen (perhaps because they feared deportation) and attended church more regularly as well. As a negative, unintended consequence, they may have unduly taxed our educational and medical systems.

Many young undocumented immigrants bear no responsibility for entering our country illegally. Before we visit the “sins of the fathers” on these young men and women, might we consider a better way? They know no other country; they pledge allegiance alongside their American brothers and sisters day after day in our classrooms, bless our God in our churches, desire to serve in the military and give their lives as they have given their hearts to this great country, whose welcoming freedom still rings to all those who dream as we do.

Many of us have seen the harrowing sign on San Diego’s 405 freeway: Bold letters warn drivers, “CAUTION,” and just below those letters we see a family of three. The father leads them into danger, head down, determined. The mother follows, also leaning forward in full flight, clutching the arm of a young girl, her pony tail streaming behind her, feet barely touching the ground. It is she, that young girl, and so many like her, who were brought here by determined, sometimes desperate parents.

Should she not be able to dream? To serve?

I know my descriptions have idealized some of the undocumented people living in the U.S., but we serve a God who taught us to pray, “Forgive those who trespass against us.” As Christians, is this the trespass that we simply will not forgive?

The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of Carlos Campo.

- CNN Belief Blog

Filed under: Belief • California • Christianity • Church and state • Culture wars • Politics • United States

soundoff (115 Responses)
  1. ForSolutions

    I am amazed by the level of vitriol aimed at a principle so fundamental: in America, we do not pushich innocent children. If we truly want to get to a workable solution on this or any other issue, we must safeguard the public space for constructive, civil dialogue. It is clear from some of the comments here, that many are not interested in such civility. To call someone trash or tell them to go back to Mexico simply because of their name or their support for this issue is not only ignorant, is tremendously damaging to the fabric of our country. Stand by your convictions without demonizing fellow Americans.

    December 17, 2010 at 5:08 pm |
    • American

      forsolutions, we hate crime. you love crime. that's why we hate you.

      December 17, 2010 at 5:20 pm |
  2. American

    loveyourneighbor, why doesn't mexico love their neighbors? they imprison anyone who sneaks into mexico.

    December 17, 2010 at 5:05 pm |
  3. LoveYourNeighbor

    A beautiful, inspiring piece. We need more leaders of our movement like Dr. Campo.

    December 17, 2010 at 5:03 pm |
  4. Steve the real one

    Romans 13:1-8
    1 Let every soul be subject unto the higher powers. For there is no power but of God : the powers that be are ordained of God.
    2 Whosoever therefore resisteth the power, resisteth the ordinance of God: and they that resist shall receive to themselves damnation.
    3 For rulers are not a terror to good works, but to the evil. Wilt thou then not be afraid of the power? do that which is good, and thou shalt have praise of the same:
    4 For he is the minister of God to thee for good. But if thou do that which is evil, be afraid ; for he beareth not the sword in vain: for he is the minister of God, a revenger to execute wrath upon him that doeth evil.
    5 Wherefore ye must needs be subject , not only for wrath, but also for conscience sake.
    6 For for this cause pay ye tribute also: for they are God's ministers, attending continually upon this very thing.
    7 Render therefore to all their dues: tribute to whom tribute is due; custom to whom custom; fear to whom fear; honour to whom honour.

    Verse 1 says let EVERY SOUL be subject...EVERY SOUL!

    Verses 3 and 4 are reminders that governments have been empowered to enforce laws AND punish those who break the law! THAT would include illegals. The primary issue/problem is government is NOT enforcing current law!

    SO! Until Congress changes the law, current law has to be obeyed and enforced! That leaves te rest of us on one side or the other on this issue!

    December 17, 2010 at 4:55 pm |
  5. American

    you mexicans love mexico so much, you should be more than happy to live in mexico.

    December 17, 2010 at 4:34 pm |
  6. Observer

    @Steve the real one

    @Jesus Jesus has taught us to love our enemies
    Yes He did! He did not however, say they have to live illegally in our county! Sorry, I must have missed that one. You have a book, chapter, and verse for that? Based upon your interpretation, lets clear out the prisons right now! Because we have to love the law breakers!

    ... Actually you did miss this one. Might want to go back and check.

    Leviticus (19:33-4):"And if a stranger sojourn with thee in your land, ye shall not vex him. But the stranger that dwelleth with you shall be unto you as one born among you, and thou shalt love him as thyself."

    December 17, 2010 at 4:31 pm |
    • Steve the real one

      Got it! One question though, where did it say this stranger sojourned illegally? How would you line that up with:

      Romans 13:1-7, “Everyone must submit himself to the governing authorities, for there is no authority except that which God has established?

      December 17, 2010 at 4:41 pm |
  7. Response to David m.

    I grew up going to church. That verse you quoted has changed since it was written in the first translations. It changes fom God or governments being supreme authority. So basically, your arguement is invalid. What the author is trying to say is to have mercy, which was what Jesus crist was all about. Did you forget about the golden rule "do unto others as as you would want done to you". You are obligated by God to love your nieghbor. Don't be a hypocritical christain that believes in God when it is conveniant. And for Mal , there are ways that illegals do pay for taxes. I know some that I do taxes for that are members at my church. Although I don't support amenesty across the board, it makes sense to me to allow those who wish to better them selves for the sake of our great country to be able to do so. The bill would ONLY apply to minors who have been in the US and have completed highschool.

    December 17, 2010 at 4:31 pm |
    • American

      to the church guy,
      when is the last time you complained to mexico for imprisoning people who sneak into mexico?
      we should treat illegal aliens the same way mexico treats their illegal aliens.
      send them to jail.
      THOU SHALL NOT STEAL, you idiot.

      December 17, 2010 at 4:34 pm |
    • Steve the real one

      I disagree David M. Paul was talking to Christians in ROME. You know, where Christians did not worship the Caesars as god? The same Roman governments that tossed christians into a pit of lions just for a show? The same Roman government the executed Christians via crucifixation because Jesus was their king and not the Caesar! The early Christian church was considered to be enemies of the state by the Romans. They also did not worship "the god of the week". Today we have North Korea, most mid-eastern countries doing the same thing! Paul just reminded them to obey civil government, as long as it did not cause them to disobey Christ. When they did that, they had to be ready to die! God is STILL the supreme authority and yet he allows men to rule!

      December 17, 2010 at 5:15 pm |
  8. paul

    If the DREAM Act is approved there will be 2 million less American kids going to college over the next several years because some politicians want to give those slots to illegal aliens.

    Why do some politicians hate American kids so much???

    However we American citizens do get one thing out of it... the bill. Yup the democrats want the American taxpayer to subsidize their education while cheating our own American kids.

    The Nightmare Act has no cap, no end-date and no enforcement. Illegal aliens merely have to claim — not provide evidence — that they meet criteria. It's simply a "mass ongoing amnesty". In the future any foreign family with a school age child can sneak in the country and enroll their child in school to obtain automatic citizenship.

    Why do some politicians encourage this corruption???

    December 17, 2010 at 4:05 pm |
    • American

      because most mexicans vote democrat

      December 17, 2010 at 4:20 pm |
    • JPopNC

      Paul...it's simple. Obama wants to be re-elected, so since he's failing miserably in everything he's attempted, his only recourse now is to screw over the American population in favor of illegal immigrants so they'll vote for him. You watch and see....the highest percentage of voters for him this next time will be Mexican.

      December 20, 2010 at 1:35 pm |
  9. Dave


    December 17, 2010 at 3:56 pm |
    • Steve the real one

      Have you even bothered to ask this of those who support the bill? How about those who wrote the bill? If not, why not? No ignorance on the support side? All supporters read the bill? All supporters are experts in immigration law? I 'll bet you those who wrote the bill are not immigration experts! So Dave, if YOU didn't read the bill (even if you did read it that doesn't make you an expert) and if you are not an immigratiion lawyer: HOW CAN YOU DECIDE ABOUT A SUBJECT THAT YOU ARE TOTALLY IGNORANT ABOUT?

      doesn't make yo aand if yo are

      December 17, 2010 at 4:14 pm |
    • American

      as if dave actually cares about the law. mexicans only care about the law when it helps them. otherwise, they love crime

      December 17, 2010 at 4:14 pm |
    • Thaddeus

      With all due respect to you, I am a legal immigrant to this country and have a knowledge of US Immigration laws for I came here to this country legally. FYI: To come here legally , one must go thru the follwoing : FBI backgorund checks and Police background check to be submitted to the US Emabassy. One MUST also be fingerprinted and submitted to FBI and Local police of their country of origin. One must also go thru medical examination to make sure one does not have any deadly disease that could spread to the US population., Affidavit of support to make sure the prospective legal immigrant will not pose a financial burden to US government and its taxpayers, one must also go to an interview process in front of a US Consul at a US Emabassy. Byu doing so, one must go to a snake of line just tio have their numbers being called . And for you to mention" fear and hate" is totally a proof that YOU are the one being an IGNORAMOS! What mesage do these ILLEGALS send to those who are playing by the rules and are waiting at US Emabassies around the globe and who have to go the terdious process of having their papers being processed , as I had ? Before you come into judging and labeling.. PUT YOURSELF ON THOSE PEOPLE WHO ARE PLAYING BY THE RULES! Note; These Illegals came here ILLEGALLY! Do you speak English, Dave?

      December 19, 2010 at 4:45 am |
  10. American

    brenda, oh I see. You commit felonies because we don't allow crime? Third world trash.

    December 17, 2010 at 3:49 pm |
  11. American

    steve, yeah they work their butts off committing felonies such as social security theft and fraud. They belong in federal prison.

    December 17, 2010 at 3:36 pm |
    • Brenda


      December 17, 2010 at 3:47 pm |
  12. Steve B

    OK, so the compassionate angle isn't appealing. Read this e-newsletter from my mutual fund company concerning all the debate over sovereign debt.


    And they do pay taxes unless the company they work for is operating illegally...that includes painters, lawn services, domestic help, etc. that we all see up and down our neighborhoods, working their butts off. Wish there was more of their work ethic. They deserve, and we need to develop, a reasonable path to US citizenship.

    David M....sadly, "your" concept of God makes me want to apologize to the many parts of the world, not as fortunate as ours.

    December 17, 2010 at 3:33 pm |
  13. Ironweed

    YesSuffolk County Executive Steve Levy questioned prioritizing spending money on this instead of other initiatives Friday. "It is a case of mixed priorities when Congress can find millions in funding for students who are not here legally, yet fails to find adequate funding to help our senior citizens heat their homes," he said in a statement., the Democrats are all heart and godly people; they aren't pandering for latino votes:

    December 17, 2010 at 3:31 pm |
  14. American

    ernest, we do not have to secure our borders if we actually punish illegal aliens. Imprison all illegal aliens in inexpensive tent prisons, and illegal immigration will stop.

    December 17, 2010 at 3:20 pm |
  15. Ernest T

    How do we secure our borders? What is the solution to that?US has a broad intelligent people but it failed.

    December 17, 2010 at 3:17 pm |
    • Sam

      USA failed to impliment a sustainable immigration process, because of this loot of illigals entered the country. They need to fix the immigration process insted of rewarding law breakers and kids. USA needs bot low skilled and high skilled immigrants. Low skilled immigrants to work in our farms and High skilled immigrants to work in R&D and develop new technologies and products. Do you know whats the wait time to get a green card through employment in most common catagory's 10 years and more... Why is politics looking at illigal immigration reform...they should first look at legal immigration reform...firs make people who are here legally and working in high end R&D jobs green card holders and then think about illigal immigrants...

      December 17, 2010 at 3:31 pm |
  16. American

    Wow. A guy named Carlos is in favor of rewarding Mexican criminals. What a surprise.

    December 17, 2010 at 3:13 pm |
    • Brenda


      December 17, 2010 at 3:43 pm |
    • Jesus

      Wow. A guy named "American" is xenophobic. What a surprise?

      December 17, 2010 at 3:54 pm |
    • American

      jesus, thou shall not steal social security numbers, you crime loving piece of trash

      December 17, 2010 at 4:28 pm |
  17. doug

    Since when does christianity have anything to do with illegals, thay are also criminals by the way. You are an IDIOT in my opinion!

    December 17, 2010 at 3:10 pm |
    • Brenda


      December 17, 2010 at 3:42 pm |
    • TheTruth

      Doug... You say we are idiots yet you can't even spell "they." Some of these students are more educated than 75% of Americans. This is not about crimes because it has been stated many times that these are not criminals. The Dream Act doesn't add burden to our economic crisis. Do you understand that the US is going to other countries seeking talent? Why not use the talent we have here????? We are all Americans! Understand that just how it is not plausible for you to go live in a strange country, we can't either! Stop being narrowed minded and get informed of the facts. Republicans didn't even want to see this bill until the tax bill passed... that's no way to run this great nation. This is the first step to a more understanding and more humane form of government.

      Did we not learn in the '60s that hatred and segregation is not the way to go? What is the next step? Kill them all like Hitler did with the Jews? Let's stop this racism NOW before it's too late! Yes to the Dream Act! Allow us to serve for this great nation! Both in the military and in the work force!

      December 17, 2010 at 3:52 pm |
    • TJ

      To all of you who responded to this article:

      As a first generatrion LEGAL IMMIGRANT to this country ( immigrated in 1982 ), The editor is totally blinded of the fact that this country is a nation of laws! These illegal immigrants came here ILLEGALLY. When I came here, I had to go to FBI background investigation from my country of origin , prior to comming here legally. In addition I had to wait in line at the US Embassy to process my immigration papers and then getting interviewed by a US Consul. To say that we must be "Keep the DREAN ACT alive." is a disservice to the legal immigrants waiting in line across the US Embassies around the world going by the rules. What these politicians who wants to create a law just to reward these illegals coming to this country ( nommatter ) what age is totally giving a bad precedence to those leagl immigrants waiting in line at US Embassies across the globe. My answer to the illegals who are here...here is my answer to you.. GO back to your country of origin. You are here ILLEGALLY! You have used my taxpayers money to benefit your gain illegally be it going to schools and social programs that I have worked hard for and you just take to fit your lifestyle. And when you work, you pay taxes, but the taxes you pay is less than the benefits in this country you end up using up. Here you are skirting the system while many would be legal immigrants ( waiitng around the US Embassies around the globe ) play by the rules. Shame on you illegals!

      December 19, 2010 at 4:09 am |
  18. David Minnich

    Romans 13:1-7 states, “Everyone must submit himself to the governing authorities, for there is no authority except that which God has established." Clearly illegal aliens don't believe this basic Christian tenet, so I do not see why I should be obligated to respect mercy or forgiveness for them.

    December 17, 2010 at 3:03 pm |
    • civilioutside

      Seriously? Every govenment has god's sanction?

      December 17, 2010 at 3:19 pm |
    • Ironweed

      Yes, unless it goes against what Hispanics want, then we need to bend over.

      December 17, 2010 at 3:30 pm |
    • Jesus

      Just because someone doesn't behave as we want them to or according to what we think is right we have to respond on the same way. Jesus taught us to be better than that and to do good even to those that have been bad and rude to us. Read the gosspels.

      December 17, 2010 at 3:50 pm |
    • Steve the real one

      Seriously? Every govenment has god's sanction?
      God sanctions human rule BUT governments (and people) have been known to abuse or even outright ignore God's sanction! Evil is STILL alive and well (at least for now)!

      December 17, 2010 at 5:01 pm |
    • civiloutside

      So by that logic, citizens of Soviet Russia and modern day North Korea are required by god to be atheists, huh?

      December 18, 2010 at 5:04 pm |
    • Steve (the real one)

      I will repeat my post:

      God sanctions human rule BUT governments (and people) have been known to abuse or even outright ignore God's sanction! Evil is STILL alive and well (at least for now)!

      Notice the words ABUSE and IGNORE!

      December 19, 2010 at 3:37 pm |
    • JPopNC

      David...I like your reply much better. Excellent point (and verse).

      December 20, 2010 at 1:18 pm |
  19. Mal

    Maybe I'm not understanding this article, but I do not see it as "un-Christian" to not want people coming into the US and getting free medical care and not paying taxes. I welcome anyone who fills out the proper paperwork. Where is the mercy from the IRS when I can't afford to pay my taxes? Where's my mercy when I'm sick and don't have the money to pay my co-pay?

    December 17, 2010 at 2:48 pm |
    • Ironweed

      That would depend on whether or not you are Hispanic. If you are not, and you are not in favor of expanding the $113 Billion in benefits they get annually, then you are a racist. It really is that simple.

      December 17, 2010 at 3:33 pm |
    • Yasmin

      Yes! I totally agree with you. Many Americans want to give amnesty to illegals when I pay my taxes and NEVER get a break. This is the United Staes of America not the United States of Illegals!!!

      December 17, 2010 at 9:03 pm |
    • Katie

      Yasmin, when you say "illegals," you're talking about the white, college-educated Irish illegal immigrants who are coming over in waves due to their failing economy, overstaying their visitor visas and taking jobs away from us, right? Or about the white, Eastern European women who are brought over as mail order brides or housekeepers? Right?

      December 20, 2010 at 10:22 am |
    • JPopNC

      Jesus did teach we should be responsible to the government and pay our taxes accordingly.."render into Ceasar that which is Ceasar's". So, if you're going to drag the Bible into all this, then you'd have to outline the need for the illegal immigrants to follow the laws of the land.

      December 20, 2010 at 1:18 pm |
  20. Sam

    Carlos Campo...think you are out off your mind? Did Jesus come and tell you that all christians should support this bill? Just because you can put some article online dont link illigal immigration to relegion.
    This country should first secure its borders, then reform legal immigration – I mean how we let immigrants in to our country so that we can have enough workforce, reform immigration to let people who are here legally first get oppertunity to get green cards and more...then think about illigal immigrants. legal immigrants who are here legally and working in technology jobs are waiting for more then 10 years to get Green Card. First let them benefit for the contribution they have made to this country y developing new products, then think about illigal immigrants.

    December 17, 2010 at 2:46 pm |
    • Ironweed

      Obama doesn't attend church, but he has the christian folks bombarding congress for him to get his amnesty bill so he can get reelected in 2012.

      December 17, 2010 at 3:35 pm |
    • Jesus

      Jesus has taught us to love our enemies. This is the rule that almost nobody follows. All those who call themselves Christians no mattter what denomination should follow the true teachings of Jesus. Did he not have mercy on the soldier when Peter cut-off his ear. Jesus responded by healing one of his enemies. Jesus prayed to forgive those who had sent him to his death saying that they did not know what they were doing. Jesus forgave Paul all the prosecutions against Christians and made an example of a true apostol to the gentils. No human law talks abour mercy, or forgiveness, for this is divine. It is written only in the hearts of those who truly follow God and his son Jesus. Law does not make humans more just, it is mercy. Laws come and go and depend on the political mood of the masses or the people in power. But mercy is and will always be the same: to feed those who are hungry, to quench those who are thirsty, etc. In other words: TO LOVE AND TAKE CARE OF ONE ANOTHER.
      In the mundane side, economics are quite complex and I won't go into a lot of detail. However, keep in mind that in a market economy, consumer is king. If we don't have a sustainable population that buys goods and services there wouldn't be any corporations to give jobs to people, no bonuses for employees, no salary increases, etc. And yes even though they are here illegally, everybody contributes when they pay sales taxes and when employers withold their income tax from their checks. The Dream Act is an opportunity to do good. Securing the borders will take a long time. If we wait, millions of youth will not be able to serve our country to their full potential and that would be very bad for them. And by the way David, just because someone doesn't behave as we want them to or according to what we think is right, we have to respond on the same way. Jesus taught us to be better than that and to do good even to those that have been bad and rude to us. Read the gosspels.
      Be true to yourself and be true to God. Take care and God bless you.

      December 17, 2010 at 3:44 pm |
    • Steve the real one

      @Jesus Jesus has taught us to love our enemies
      Yes He did! He did not however, say they have to live illegally in our county! Sorry, I must have missed that one. You have a book, chapter, and verse for that? Based upon your interpretation, lets clear out the prisons right now! Because we have to love the law breakers!

      December 17, 2010 at 4:23 pm |
    • Thaddeus

      To Carlos Campo,
      What you have written is noble, but I totally disagree to what you have written. As a legal immigrant to this country, I had to go to several process to gain foothold to this great nation to wit: FBI background check at my country of origin, medical examination ( in my country of origin ) to make sure that I do not have TB and other deadly forms of disease that I may end up spreading here in the US, getting in line to be interviewed by a US Consul inside the US Embassy , processing the affiidavit of support to make sure that I will not be a burden of the US government should some misfortune strikes me. These are just a few that one MUST go through just to be a legal immigrant to this great country. My question to you: What message are we now sending to legal immigrants around the globe waiting for their numbers to come up and then start their papers to be processed? Mind you they are over 200 countries around the globe with US Embassies in each of them. Here they are playing by the rules! Now here come these Illegals sucking up my taxpayer money and now they want / demand amnesty? And if they do not get it, what are they then..Racist? Please! I am Asian of origin. And I say to you illegals...Go back to your country of origin prior to you coming here illegally! The borders must have walls to secure the number of illegals who are still coming to suck up our taxes..... and not just rinky dink tin walls that will just satisfy the politicians (especially liberal democrats )who needs the Hispanic votes.

      December 19, 2010 at 4:30 am |
    • Katie

      It's interesting how even though Jesus does teach to love everyone (even those who evade taxes), and to not judge someone who doesn't realize they've done wrong, that people will pick and choose which issues they think pertain to the Bible and which ones they can just continue to hate on because they don't want to admit to their own hypocrisy.

      December 20, 2010 at 10:24 am |
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About this blog

The CNN Belief Blog covers the faith angles of the day's biggest stories, from breaking news to politics to entertainment, fostering a global conversation about the role of religion and belief in readers' lives. It's edited by CNN's Daniel Burke with contributions from Eric Marrapodi and CNN's worldwide news gathering team.