"Alex" was pulled over and harassed yesterday because of his skin color.
Alex is a close friend. Everyone who knows him loves Alex. I felt angry and sick as Alex told me about the humiliating incident.
Alex says he is certain skin color was the reason for his interrogation because that was his only crime. He was on his way to work when he noticed one of our Sheriff's deputies following him. After about a mile the deputy pulled up next to him, looked in his window, then turned on his lights. Rather than ask Alex for his license and registration... he asked to see his "proof of residency."
You see, Alex is Hispanic. That's why the officer asked for his "proof of residency." But what is that anyway? Do we have a national ID card I don't know about? Are we all supposed to carry our birth certificate or passport? When did this happen?
We do this now in our county, we harass people because of their skin color. My blood boils as I write those words. What is wrong with us? What is wrong with this country that calls itself "Christian"? What in us has created a disdain for the immigrant? We are a nation of immigrants.
So I write this piece as a open invitation to all the Sheriff's and Deputies...
I'm an immigrant, come harass me too.
My grandfather's not from this country. Our surname is Chinchen. I realize it sounds Asian but my grandfather immigrated from England. He signed in at Ellis Island with his sister and his single-mother, they were dirt poor.
So here I am an immigrant, come harass me too.
All your bully-talk to Alex, from behind the dark sunshades, doesn't scare me. I've been harassed by men with guns my entire life, because of my skin color. You see, I was raised in Africa where inebriated soldiers, immigration officers, and policemen made sport of harassing foreigners. They pointed their guns at me, threatened me, made racial slurs toward me -- all because of my skin color. But I never believed that kind of harassment happened in this country.
So here I am an immigrant, come harass me, I'm used to it -- and leave my friend Alex alone.
We claim to be a "Christian" nation but we have somehow forgotten that Jesus was for the immigrant. He shocked and disturbed the religious establishment of his day by embracing the immigrant, like the foreigner he asked for a drink. He championed immigrants as righteous heroes in his stories, like the Compassionate Samaritan. And He said things like, "I was a stranger and you invited me in."
Though the pages of the Bible God repeatedly challenges his people to love and care for the immigrant, "You are to love the foreigner, because you were foreigners in the land of Egypt" (Deut. 10:19).
"When foreigners reside among you in your land, do not mistreat them. The foreigners residing among you must be treated as your native-born. Love them as yourself" (Lev. 19:33-34).
"When you harvest your grain, always leave some of it standing around the edges of your fields and don't pick up what falls on the ground. Leave it for the poor and for the foreigners who live among you" (Lev. 23:22).
So I'm at a loss as to why certain Christians have adopted a spiteful attitude toward immigrants, as though it is Biblical to despise them. They sneer at them the way the Jews did the Samaritan. I hear people justify their stance based on the legality of people's immigration status. How in the world does immigration status matter to God? Every person is prized by God, and in turn every person must be treasured by His people. Not just tolerated but welcomed, invited in, included, loved. And if the immigrant has needs, meet them. So I implore pastors and churches across this country to call their people to embrace the immigrant.
Like my family, Alex's family immigrated to this country years and years ago. But he's asked for "proof of residency," not for any crime or violation, but because of the color of his skin. So I write this as a voice for all descendants of immigrants in this country, stop the harassment.
I drive the same route to work every morning. I take Cooper, to Queen Creek, then a left on Gilbert Road to my office. I drive a 2004 sea-foam green Discovery II. Go ahead, turn on your lights, glare at me, put your hand on your holster, and ask for my "proof of residency..."
...but I know you won't. I know you won't because I have the wrong skin color.
NOTE: An earlier version of this post had typographical errors that have since been corrected.