By Katie Simpson ’20
During a special panel at this year’s homecoming panelists Jessica Allen, Tim Breene, and Ruth Melkonian-Hoover addressed a variety of issues relating to immigration.
Noting the complications and controversy of immigration related questions, moderator and professor of political science, Paul Brink said, “reasonable people, even Christian reasonable people, can come up with different answers to this question.” Brink continued to add that the panel was not intended to defend or attack any particular presidential administration.
Melkonian-Hoover, Chair and Professor of Political Science at Gordon, gave a brief history of immigration in the US and Christian responses to those waves of immigration. Allen, an alumna from the class of 2013 and board member of a Boston based nonprofit, Refugees Welcome, skyped in to share her expertise on issues related to DACA. Breene, the CEO of World Relief and a Gordon Trustee, focused on refugee related immigration issues.
When an audience member asked whether the distinctions between legal immigration, illegal immigration, and refugee resettlement matters, Melkonian spoke about the difficulties of legal immigration to the United States. In relation to immigration policy, Melkonain said, “there has been a green light, red light experience for a lot of folks,” whether policy has been adjusted or not. “It’s not just a question of why don’t they get their citizenship for most people,” Melkonain continued.
Noting that the world now faces refugee crises far larger than any in recent memory and Breene asked, “How do we balance the Christian calling to love our neighbor and welcome the stranger with [modern issues such as terrorism]?”
Further addressing security concerns related to the acceptance of refugees, Breene said, “there are legitimate fears about security.” However, when explaining the resettlement process, he said that using the resettlement process to enact a terrorist attack is, “like trying to place your terrorist through the eye of the needle when all the other doors are pretty well open.”
Breene said, “the wealth that most of us experience, and I recognize that this is not true in every part of the US, should lead us to have a compassionate heart to those especially those who are escaping violence and persecution, but also those who are escaping extreme economic insecurity.”
In his closing remarks, Breene encouraged Christians that in, “coming alongside these vulnerable [refugee] populations there is a richness [and] calling worth rising up to.