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. Keith

    Here's a thought, how about enforcing the law?

    December 18, 2010 at 12:41 pm |
    • Peppy LePew

      Congress is looking for a new source of VOTERS available for the down the road scenario after everyone and their keeds have been let in-–the Chicago patronage system rears its head AGAIN

      December 19, 2010 at 4:25 am |
  2. American


    December 18, 2010 at 11:43 am |
  3. American

    the guy named "reality" just called illegal aliens "slaves".
    well, let's give these "slaves" freedom by giving them a bus ticket back to mexico.
    free at last! free at last! free at last!

    December 18, 2010 at 11:27 am |
    • Reality

      Hmmm, not a very Christian response from the "American" especially since Mexico is one of the countries in America. And yes, bus/plane tickets to Mexico and wherever is a good idea as long as we "United Staters" start doing our own menial tasks.

      December 18, 2010 at 12:11 pm |
  4. laura esquivel

    No human being is illegal.

    December 18, 2010 at 9:14 am |
    • American

      laura, thanks for proving that mexicans love crime, you piece of trash.

      December 18, 2010 at 11:11 am |
    • Steve (the real one)

      I fully agree that no human is illegal. That is a wholly different argument from what we are talking about here. Any HUMAN in this country without permission is committing an illegal act, and as such is illegal!

      December 19, 2010 at 3:47 pm |
  5. Pedro

    Mr. Campos, it's not about being God's like or forgiven, it's about doing things in accordance with the law. Have you ever thought about the millions of children (worldwide) that are waiting to be given LEGAL PERMISSION by the American Embassy in their own country, before being able to come to the U.S. to study, live and work. I was one of those children, whom waited for years in my country before being able to reunite with my mother, who lived in NYC. I came at the age of 14, eventually I gratuated from high school, then enlisted in the Marines and afterward I went to college. I am now a proud U.S. Naturalized citizen and I truly believe this nation to be the best country in the world and I've always had wonderful opportunities come my way, and that is because I AND MY MOTHER DID FOLLOW THE RULES OF LAW from the very beginning. If the Dream Act were to be enacted, it'd truly delay the approval for all those children that are waiting in their own countries for LEGAL PERMISSION to come in, because the yearly quota for LEGAL VISA wouldn't be there, because of the millions of ilegals that would receive them. AND IN DOING SO SIR, THE MESSAGE WOULD BE THAT FOR THOSE WHOM CHOSE THE EASY WAY IN, THE WRONG WAY, THE ILEGAL WAY, WOULD ACTUALLY BE REWARDED, and those whom had chosen the right path, the hard path, the LEGAL PATH, would actually be punished. And that Mr. Campos, is something that God himself would disapprove.
    If those ilegal children and their parents truly love this country and wish to be here, they need to go back to their countries and apply at the American Embassy for LEGAL PERMISSION to come back in, and then wait like everyone else.

    December 18, 2010 at 9:07 am |
  6. paul

    THE 10-YEAR WORK PERMITS (What you are not being told by corrupt politicians and MSM)

    1. Application: The DREAM amnesty begins with illegal aliens filling out applications. They merely have to claim — not provide evidence — that they meet criteria of having been brought to the U.S. before age 16 and being under the age of 30 at time of enactment and being present in the U.S. at least 5 years before enactment of the amnesty, among other criteria.

    2. Work Permits Given: Upon filing the application, the illegal aliens are given a 10-year work permit to compete directly with the 22 million Americans who want a full-time job but can’t find one.

    Regardless of how many people eventually get a permanent amnesty, DREAM would result in 2 MILLION to 4 MILLION illegal aliens getting 10-year work permits immediately to compete against 22 million unemployed Americans.

    Those millions would immediately be able to legally compete for any U.S. job…

    December 18, 2010 at 5:17 am |
  7. Reality

    If we would cut our own grass, do our own landscaping, pick our own vegetables/fruit, cook our own food, clean our own laundary, care for own kids and clean our homes and churches/temples ourselves, there would be no need for Mexican, Haitian, Irish, Italian and/or Asian "slaves" and therefore there would be no illegal immigration.

    December 18, 2010 at 1:33 am |
    • American

      "slaves", huh? illegal aliens are not held against their will, you illegal alien loving piece of trash. let's give these "slaves" freedom by giving them a bus ticket to mexico. sound good?

      December 18, 2010 at 11:26 am |
    • Reality

      Hmmm, not a very Christian response from the "American" especially since Mexico is one of the countries in Americal. And yes, bus/plane tickets to Mexico and wherever is good idea as long as we "United Staters" start doing our own menial tasks.

      December 18, 2010 at 12:07 pm |
  8. American

    HotAirAce is just another trashy pro-crime illegal alien lover

    December 18, 2010 at 12:47 am |
  9. HotAirAce

    The USA is not going to send all illegal aliens "home" – too costly to do so.
    The USA is not going to imprison all illegal aliens – too costly to do so.
    The USA might be able to secure its borders – but it will take lots of money and some time.
    There will still be millions of illegal aliens in the US, some through no fault of their own such as many children.
    So everyne in the US will have to get use to having illegal aliens for a long time, or compromise on some form of amnesty porgam. Starting with children seems like a good place to begin, but compromise is just about the dirtiest word in the US.

    December 18, 2010 at 12:23 am |
    • American

      Tent city prisons are cheap. Google Sheriff Arpaio.

      December 18, 2010 at 12:47 am |
    • HotAirAce


      Tent cities are *cheaper* than bricks and mortar prisons, but probably still very costly when scaled to millions of inmates and thousands of staff.

      And I'll ignore your ignorant characterization of me and say that I'm quite happy to be not-American.

      December 18, 2010 at 2:29 am |
  10. nomemoleste

    Here's real immigration reform - No one ever found illegal in the US should be able to become a legal resident or citizen.

    Hanging on to hope of amnesty is what spurs illegals to remain in the US. Like wasting money every week hoping for a lotto mega jackpot.

    No back door amnesty for students. They should not be taught to cut in line ahead of others applying for legal immigration. The first thing they should learn in school is to abide by the law. The dream act unfairly rewards cheats.

    When illegals turn adult, the responsibilities for being illegal are all their own.

    As adults - illegals are liable for breaking the law - both in the US and abroad, especially regarding visas. They have duties as citizens in their own native lands, such as taxes, selective service, and jury duty. Those that shirk their duties abroad - should not be citizens or residents in the US - ever. And making illegal criminal aliens eligible for US military service is suicidal.

    As for Christ, His stance is clear on illegals. He will kick those that aren't in the Lamb's Book of Life - out of His Kingdom, the Kingdom of Heaven - and in to the Lake of Fire.

    John 10:1 “Truly, truly, I say to you, he who does not enter by the door into the fold of the sheep, but climbs up some other way, he is a thief and a robber."

    Only false christians would push for illegals breaking laws like visa requirements (in multiple countries), cheating, unfair treatment (for the few that go to college), and aid them while breaking US law directly themselves by housing, employing, transporting, and conspiring with illegals to enter and remain in the US (liable for up to 5 years in prison).

    Say NEVER to back-door amnesty!

    December 17, 2010 at 11:18 pm |
  11. Bruce

    The problem isn't the border. It is the Mexican Government. There is a reason Americans aren't pouring over the Mexican border. We would be better off if it was Mexico producing the things China is producing. Have the US Marines, the Navy Seals and the Rangers move into Mexico and shut down the drug lords. Then start up manufacturing facilities to hire our illegals or their legals. They return home without us doing anything. This would eliminate the money they make in the US to be sent back to Mexico so some other family member can support human trafficing.

    December 17, 2010 at 10:11 pm |
  12. Maria

    "Brenda's" comment is classic. "Oh, we're just borrowing your social security number for a little bit. We wouldn't have to commit a crime if you let us have what we want."

    We do NOT need to have this mentality in our country. Someone who thinks like this can never respect the rule of law and other fundamental American values. The reason that "Brenda's" country is such a piece of crap is because they don't respect the rule of law and now they want to bring that same mentality here.

    December 17, 2010 at 8:49 pm |
  13. Susan Robbins

    Jesus did not support lawbreaking. I realize these kids didn't come on their own, but some have past the age where their families are responsible and mad no effort to become legal. They want it handed to them. Sorry, but noone profits from illegal behavior even kids.
    Suppose I bought a stolen car and gave it to my kid for Xmas... Would the kid be allowed to keep it?
    As far as this nonsense that we separate families.... families are free to go with the deported. Not our fault nor our problem that these kids are in limbo. Fault lies with the parents and them alone. We gave them free medical and education. Don't owe them anymore. They owe us.

    December 17, 2010 at 8:22 pm |
  14. RJonny

    THANK YOU MR. Campo!! I hope your thoughtful words move the hearts of some of the Senators tomorrow. Jesus taught that "Whatsoever you do to the least of these, you do unto me" and I firmly believe that the DREAM Act upholds our most basic values of compassion, fairness, and hard work. These young people can contribute so much to this country, and we will all benefit from it."

    December 17, 2010 at 8:02 pm |
  15. Grace

    My family has been in this country for many generations, and I'm of European descent. I was raised as a southern Christian with respect for and love for my fellow human being. That's why I support the young DREAMers, who are like me, regardless of the color of their skin. They just want the opportunity to work or serve in the military, like everyone else who grows up in America. Love thy neighbor, do unto others..., welcome the stranger. We are all brothers and sisters under God. It's Christmas – it's about love, having a heart, and doing the right thing.

    December 17, 2010 at 5:38 pm |
    • American

      grace, do you love all people? do you love rapists and murderers? do you believe all criminals should be released from prison?

      December 17, 2010 at 5:51 pm |
    • Thaddeus

      Grace, I agree about your Christian sentiments, but one must come here legally as I have. Not Illegally and just demand amnesty. I had to go to the tedious process of having my papers in tact to come here LEGALLY, not ILLEGALLY and ripping US taxpayers blindly! There are millions of US around the world wating to have thier immigration papers being processed just to come here legally. Theese millions of would-be immigrants have to wait in line in US Embassies to come here legally. What makes this illegal immigrants special? Are they better than other Christian who are waiting eagerly in line to have thier number called? Bottom line is: These illegals MUST abide by the law. They came here ILLEGALLY! They have used my taxpayer money to fund their education ( elementary and college). Now they demand amnesty and seek sympathy from the US public? I call that GREED! Might as well do it to those LEGAL Immigrants who wait for years to come to the US and skip the paperwork! Now that I see a very fair way. let us do it equally!..not just for illegal Hispanics whose VOTES are crucial for liberal democrats!

      December 19, 2010 at 5:25 am |
  16. Casey

    This is beautiful, Pastor Campo. Thank you for speaking out in favor of the DREAM Act as an educator and minister. Your students are lucky to have you as a leader and I hope the senate will keep your words in mind tomorrow.

    December 17, 2010 at 5:33 pm |
  17. American

    illegal aliens are not american citizens.
    illegal aliens are MEXICAN citizens.
    they belong in MEXICO.

    December 17, 2010 at 5:22 pm |
  18. Grace

    The DREAM Act represents the best of real American and Christian values of freedom, justice, and opportunity. I'm a young American citizen – these are young people just like me who grew up here and call America home, and I strongly support them. 66% of Americans support the DREAM Act, and it's the right thing to do for the economy and the military. Give our best and brightest the chance to give back to the country they love. It's a narrow, common-sense measure that brings talented young people out of the shadows and gives them a path to "get legal," in accordance with respect for the law. It's one positive step towards fixing our immigration system.

    December 17, 2010 at 5:22 pm |
    • American

      grace is an anchor baby who thinks that crime is acceptable because her illegal aliens parents raised her that way

      December 17, 2010 at 5:23 pm |
    • Thaddeus

      To Grace,
      With all due respect ..I guess that survey you got was from a LIBERAL leaning democratic blog or poll?! I came to this country LEGALLY and had to udnergo tedious immigration background checks , medical exams, local police check, FBI checks, getting fingerprinted, affidavit of support, being interviewed by a US Consul at a US Emabassy..these are but a few! Now what message is the US giving these law abiding would Immigrants who are laying by the rules and have to go to the same hectic time consuming process as I had? Obviously...you just look at the surface and igmore the underlying facts that we legal immigrants go by! And BTW..Do not call me racist for I am originally of Asian descent! Grace, I guess your mother tongue is Latin?

      December 19, 2010 at 5:13 am |
  19. spsook

    Thanks for this, Dr. Campo. I hope you can help put to rest the illusion that the DREAM Act is a stalking horse for amnesty.

    And thank you for saying that we do not punish children for their parents' sins.

    And finally, thank you for fitting your convictions to the Gospel rather than fitting the Gospel to your convictions. I pray that God's perfect mercy and perfect justice find expression in the DREAM Act or whatever imperfect legislation our wonderful, but imperfect leaders and fellow Americans pass. I look forward to hearing your thoughts further as the conversation around immigration reform continues.

    December 17, 2010 at 5:17 pm |
  20. Sofia UCLA

    DREAM Act Tomorrow!! Thank you for your support! Love not hate, that's all I have to say.

    December 17, 2010 at 5:11 pm |
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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.