Skip to main content

Mindy BelzVoices Mindy Belz

How full is FULL?

Distinct warmhearted voices are needed on immigration

How full is FULL?

Source: World Relief

Nowhere do I hear more confusion—amid what David Brooks calls “a rapid, dirty river of information coursing through us all day”—than when Christians have conversations about immigration, perhaps the central issue of the Trump presidency. 

Is there a crisis at the border? Do we need the military to settle it? How many minors have been separated from parents? Are they part of “a big fat con job,” as President Donald Trump says? 

My colleague Sophia Lee has been crossing the border—nine times since January—in a painstaking and sometimes risky effort to report the complex realities of border security, humanitarian crisis, and legal logjam. I and other colleagues have been reporting on overseas plights—like the persecution of Yazidis in Iraq and stranded Christians from Iran—in an effort also to better understand the global migration crisis. 

For, you see, the problem actually is much bigger than President Trump is letting on. About 60 million people are displaced in the world, and a recent Gallup poll found 15 percent of the world’s adult population—750 million people—would like to move to another country if they found the opportunity. The percentage is growing, despite recent clampdowns on migrants by American and European leaders. And the United States remains their destination of choice. 

We have reached a point where leaders of both the right and the left boast in their coldheartedness toward the persecuted.

We live in a time of chaos and upheaval where prolonged conflict and failed states feed forced migration. A post–World War II order no longer holds sway; its leaders are fading. Meanwhile, victims of chaos almost anywhere in the world have access to information like never before, an ability to measure their miserable lot against those in the ordered world—or just one distant cousin who made it to Denmark. An uptick in arrivals at the U.S. southern border is one small bulge in a great wave of human movement.

Such a problem won’t be addressed by a wall, won’t be settled in Tijuana or McAllen, and won’t be fixed by Washington Post fact-checkers. The policy issues will come into focus only when we know how to think about migration, which begins by thinking about migrants, who are largely mothers and fathers with children and futures at stake. 

To be serious, policy on so large a problem must be comprehensive—involving border states, overseas allies, countries in crisis, and nongovernmental organizations. To be wise, it must be grounded on some moral imperatives because its subjects, at the end of the day, are families in turmoil. 

Policymakers need help here from Christians, whose story from Genesis to Revelation is one of forced exodus, wandering in the wilderness, and finding rest in strange lands. We may disagree on the particulars—a wall, which kind, a quota of how few or how many—but we should agree a warmhearted, compassionate approach is needed.

That’s precisely what’s missing as Trump and key members of his administration lurch from government shutdown to border showdown sprinkled liberally with outrageous presidential tweets (“Our Country is FULL!”). As White House policy adviser Stephen Miller responded, when asked about refugee protection for persecuted Christians, he “would be happy if not a single refugee foot ever again touched American soil.”

We have reached a point where leaders of both the right and the left boast in their coldheartedness toward the persecuted. With U.S. refugee admissions down overall by 72 percent from 2016, Christian refugee admissions also are plummeting. The United States took in 2,000 Christians fleeing Iran in 2016, and is on track to receive just 71 in 2019—a 97 percent decline. Once, American leaders saw it as strategic to take in the enemy of our sworn enemy.

I see Christians everywhere at work in the trenches of conflict and along the migratory routes, binding up wounds of war and looking for ways to rebuild shattered communities. Yet in America, many are far from speaking or acting prophetically, paralyzed perhaps by the political divide, intimidated by callous rhetoric when it should move them to resolve and action.


You must be a WORLD Member and logged in to the website to comment.
  •  West Coast Gramma's picture
    West Coast Gramma
    Posted: Fri, 04/12/2019 12:34 am

    Re: How Full Is Full?

    Good job, Mindy--thanks!

  • not silent
    Posted: Fri, 04/12/2019 09:55 am

    Thank you for this article, World!  Please continue to report about this situation.

  • Woodman
    Posted: Sat, 04/13/2019 11:47 am

    It’s difficult to know where to start here. The never trump drum beat from Ms Belz is predictably long on emotional heart strings and weak on a Biblical world view reminiscent of World’s preelection  effort to disqualify DJT based on an 11 year old private conversation picked up by a hot mike. 

    We can see where this immigration piece is going when we’re told the reasoned and sane adult in the room is David Brooks a NYT upper west side never trump liberal. The border crisis (just an ‘uptick’ apparently) is an outgrowth of innocent families displaced by ‘chaos’. This is the hill upon which those who are soft on illegal immigration like to plant their flag.  No mention of the crime escalation, strained infrastructures including schools, failure to assimilate, effects of illegal drugs which are measured and verifiable. While it’s true that civil law in ancient Israel regarding aliens doesn’t apply to us today Romans 13 does. Liberals conveniently ignore the responsibility to obey the government God has ordained claiming it’s ok to do so if we’re ‘warm-hearted and compassionate’ towards the downtrodden. Socialism is rooted in such saccharine Utopianism. 

    Ms Belz would also have us believe walls are a useless stopgap. Walls were used throughout Biblical history including the New Jerusalem. In modern times we’ve seen them effectively used in Israel, Berlin, China, gated communities and homes of the elites. 

    Claiming the moral middle ground between left and right with finger wagging contempt is akin to trying to cure cancer with a band aid. Failing to ascribe the singular goal of the open borders left as marshaling power is in my view an abrogation of journalistic integrity. 

    World (Ms Belz in particular) has lurched to the left seeking to become the Willow Creek of Christian reporting. Long on mocha lattes and short on intellectual and Biblical rigor. It’s sad to see.

  •  JEFF's picture
    Posted: Tue, 04/30/2019 07:58 am

    Indeed. This article provides evidence of the tragedy of American compassion.

  • Allen Johnson
    Posted: Fri, 04/12/2019 02:48 pm

    Thank you, Mindy, for your insightful, evocative, and challenging report. If Christians are to be Christian (that is, to follow Jesus), we must push for national and global policy to humanely and effectively help these millions of desperate people. This requires a deep searching of our own hearts, coming to grips with our own fears and insecurities, and an awakening to compassionate action.
    There is a high prognosis that refugees, globally, will increase in the coming future. The problem will not go away, and walls will not shield us from the gaze of Almighty God. If we are to receive mercy from God, then on our part we are to be merciful. 

  •  Brendan Bossard's picture
    Brendan Bossard
    Posted: Fri, 04/12/2019 06:17 pm

    Mindy, you have another vote in your favor on this column.  You and World have tried to remain faithful to Biblical principle in this matter from the beginning.  I applaud you all.

  • Andy Knudsen
    Posted: Sat, 04/13/2019 08:48 pm

    Thanks for the article. I think it's laughable to say WORLD has lurched to the left. Immigration is a difficult policy problem for anyone looking at it seriously.

    I wonder a little about the Stephen Miller quote about never wanting a refugee foot in America again. It looks like it comes from Cliff Sims's book. I wouldn't be surprised if Miller said that, but it looks like it is disputed from what I can find online.

  • Woodman
    Posted: Wed, 04/17/2019 09:37 pm

    Maybe it’s unfair to pin Ms Belz’s liberal bias on World as a whole. That said unless I’ve missed something she’s always leaned heavily left. From fawning over the lawless Obama to the incessant never trump drum beat in spite of significant successes (the economy, harnessing Iran and NK, support for Israel, support for Christians, pushing back on suppression of speech on campus and yes addressing the chaos on the southern border) the subtext always supports the MSM narratives of racism, mysogeny, islamaphobia, emotional unfitness etc. Truth must be the hallmark of fair reporting. 

    The article is pretty much limited to emotional bromides and predictable condemnation of Trump. Other than possibly Steven Miller (that quote is 3rd hand and has been disputed) who on either side of the debate is ‘boasting of cold heartedness’.? Unless cold heartedness is defined by enforcement of existing law I know of no one. Most who are fair minded recognize that if America is to remain a country where freedom and prosperity are championed for everyone there has to be a governor on immigration. Otherwise government will grow and liberty will diminish. The sum result will be losses for the citizen and refugee.

    Control of corruption and religious persecution can be at least partially exercised through political leverage. Any serious assessment should include the impact of current policy on law abiding citizens. Parents have lost children and the American worker has been displaced. 

    Pointing out the decline in Christian refugees from Iran without mentioning the current run rate of 500K illegals over the southern border is grossly misleading. 

    It’s no secret World doesn’t like Trump and Ms Belz seems to hold the bullhorn.   Conservative Christians would like to see fair reporting which would include celebrating the myriad victories and successes which we should all be grateful for. 


  • Wayne Asbury
    Posted: Wed, 04/17/2019 06:25 pm

    Just read this in the print edition which I received today. This article talks about so many things I've been thinking about. I grew up as a missionary kid in Taiwan and China so I don't expect people who are not raised in a Christian culture to care very much about foreigners and strangers. But when professing Christians care more about their own comfortable lifestyles than about other human beings I find this very troubling. Thanks for writing an article that shakes up our comfort zones.

  •  JEFF's picture
    Posted: Tue, 04/30/2019 07:55 am

    I had one set of granparents from Italy and another from Lithuania legally immigrate. I resent the implication that because I believe in the rule of law I am am not 'warm-hearted.'