“Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.
Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me,
I lift my lamp beside the golden door!”
Emma Lazarus, The New Colossus
Mounted in bronze on the Statue of Liberty
Hospitals are sending immigrants home. They aren’t sending them home after treating them of their illnesses or injuries, bidding them a fond farewell. They are unceremoniously shipping them off while still in dire need of care. Long before any doctor would authorize a patient’s discharge, sick and injured people are getting the boot.
And when I say “home” I mean their home countries, without even knowing they’d made the trip.
Get sick enough to fall into a coma, and have the temerity to do so while uninsured, and you might find yourself waking up in Poland, the land you were born in but haven’t seen in 30 years.
Or get severely injured in a car accident – even when you have insurance from your employer – and you can still find yourself regaining consciousness in your home country thousands of miles away.
People can argue all they want about immigration policy and health care policy. For Christians, this should be about doctrine. Why? Because sound doctrine and good works go together. (Titus 2:7-8.) You don’t think there’s a doctrine that covers this? Keep reading.
The Doctrine of Sick Immigrants
The Bible is replete with instructions about caring for those who join us from another country, for example:
Do not mistreat or oppress a foreigner, for you were foreigners in Egypt. (Exodus 22:21.)
This should be important to us not only because God commands it, but because it is personally important to God:
He defends the cause of the fatherless and the widow, and loves the foreigner residing among you, giving them food and clothing. And you are to love those who are foreigners, for you yourselves were foreigners in Egypt. (Deuteronomy 10:18-19.)
God’s care extends to those who are injured and sick as well:
He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds. (Psalm 147:3.)
He cares so much about caring for the sick that Jesus included it in his ministry when he walked the earth. He healed the blind (e.g., John 9:1-12), a woman bleeding for years (Mark 5:25-34), and a man paralyzed and incapable of getting himself from one place to another. (Luke 5:17-26.)
And just in case you are thinking that Jesus only cared about those who belonged to God’s chosen people, Israel, remember that he indiscriminately allowed anyone in the foreign land of Gennesarat who wanted to touch his robe to do so and be healed of whatever illness they suffered from. (Matthew 14:34-36.) No paperwork or permission required; Jesus just did it.
We’re the richest country in the world and what is it we do?
We take a poor sick immigrant in a coma, charter a flight for them back to whatever country they came from, and ship them off while they’re still unconscious, dumping them there to hope for the best – if they don’t die before ever waking up.
I think we Americans should take that plaque off the Statue of Liberty.
And I think we Christians should pay attention to our doctrine and care for the foreigners among us.