On Thursday, Rep. Luis Gutiérrez (D-Ill.) compared the situation of immigrants and asylum seekers who flee to the United States to the situation of the Holy Family in the days after the first Christmas. Echoing common Democrat talking points, he suggested that President Donald Trump’s immigration policies would have killed the baby Jesus.
Gutiérrez rambled, first complaining about Republicans’ desire to actually use the word “Christmas” and then addressing his main point.
“It is repugnant to me and astonishing to me that during Christmas —I like to call them ‘the holiday seasons’ to be inclusive, but ‘during Christmas’ because the majority always wants to just call it Christmas — but during Christmas, a time in which we celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ, a Jesus Christ who had to flee for his life with Mary and Joseph, thank God there wasn’t a wall that stopped him from seeking refuge in Egypt,” the Democrat declared.
“Thank God that wall wasn’t there and thank God there wasn’t an administration like this or he would have too perished on the 28th, on the Day of Innocents, when Herod ordered the murder of every child under 2 years of age,” Gutiérrez said. “Maybe I haven’t gone a lot to Bible school but I know that part.”
“Thank God,” he repeated for unnecessary emphasis. “Shame on everybody that separates children and allows them to stay at the other side of the border fearing death, fearing hunger, fearing sickness, shame on us for wearing our badge of Christianity during Christmas and allow the secretary to come here and lie.”
Gutiérrez was blasting Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen, and his explosive remarks came after five minutes of more substantive criticisms about the alleged “family separation” policy and other concerns. The Hispanic congressman also slammed President Trump for suggesting that children of Hispanic immigrants who do not speak English would not assimilate, even though his presence in the House of Representatives demonstrated that many can and do.
Whatever the merits of his other concerns, Gutiérrez went off the deep end with his complaints about Trump celebrating Christmas.
Indeed, Jesus, Mary, and Joseph fled Israel into Egypt shortly after Christmas, in order to escape from the murderous King Herod. This happened to fulfill the prophecy in Hosea 11: “out of Egypt I have called my son.”
While there may seem to be some similarity between the fleeing Holy Family and asylum seekers who come to the U.S., that similarity easily breaks down on many levels.
Jesus and His parents were not part of a large wave of immigrants or refugees. They did not join a massive caravan rumored to have political intentions of making an impact in the governance of Egypt.
The Holy Family also did not stay in Egypt. They had no intention of living in that foreign land, and returned to Nazareth to raise Jesus.
Finally, there is no indication that Jesus and his parents broke any immigration laws, if there were such laws in Egypt at the time.
None of this is to minimize the plight of immigrants and asylum seekers who come to the U.S., often in extremely dire circumstances. Yet these differences should make Democrats hesitate to use Jesus as a political football on immigration.
Also on Thursday, Nielsen announced that immigrants seeking asylum along the southwest border will no longer be released into the U.S. while their cases play out, the Associated Press reported. Instead, they will wait in Mexico while they wait for approval.
Importantly, however, this policy does not apply to children traveling alone or to Mexican nationals making asylum claims.
In other words, if a Mexican citizen faced persecution in Mexico and sought asylum in the U.S., he or she would be admitted immediately while the case was being heard, so as to save the Mexican asylum seeker from harm.
Even if Jesus, Mary, and Joseph were Mexicans seeking asylum in the U.S. — to follow Gutiérrez’s ridiculous suggestion — they would not be turned back to Herod as he suggested. Trump’s administration would not kill the baby Jesus.
Naturally, none of the key differences between Jesus’s brief asylum in Egypt and the real plight of immigrants and refugees today prevent Democrats from using this same tired comparison whenever they can. The truth of the matter is that the plight of immigrants and refugees is important and should be considered, but it also has to be weighed with other concerns like terrorism, assimilation, and the rule of law.
Jesus’s sojourn in Egypt is not a trump card to silence debate on this issue.
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