Cruel or harmless? Pastors mixed on GOP migrant transports
Refugees in Martha's Vineyard after Gov. Ron DeSantis flew two planes of immigrants to Martha's Vineyard. Image via AP.

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"You shouldn’t be loading people up and treating them as political props."

As Republican governors, including Gov. Ron DeSantis, ramp up their high-profile transports of migrants to Democratic-run jurisdictions, the practice is getting a mixed reaction from Christian faith leaders — many of whom, especially evangelicals, have supported GOP candidates by large numbers in recent elections.

Some depict the actions as inhumanely exploiting vulnerable people for political ends, while others say it’s a harmless way of calling attention to the impact of immigration on states near the southern border.

“Playing political games scores points — and the hypocrisy of the current immigration system is easy to point out,” Ed Stetzer, a professor, dean and executive director of the Wheaton College Billy Graham Center in Illinois, said in a statement.

“However, it does not solve the actual problems. … Let’s fix the system,” he added, “and stop turning people into pawns of political one-upmanship.”

But the Rev. Robert Jeffress, senior pastor at First Baptist Church of Dallas and a prominent supporter of former President Donald Trump, who imposed restrictive immigration policies during his term, backed the transports.

“Government officials who refuse to fulfill their biblical responsibility to protect our borders should be made to feel the effects of their lawless policies,” Jeffress said via email.

“Busing illegal migrants to Washington D.C. or Martha’s Vineyard is not exactly the same as sending them to Siberia,” he continued. “Most Americans would love the opportunity to visit either destination.”

DeSantis flew immigrants on two planes to the upscale island of Martha’s Vineyard in Massachusetts on Wednesday, while Texas Gov. Greg Abbott has also dispatched migrants to cities with Democratic mayors. Most recently, on Thursday, two busloads from his state disembarked near Vice President Kamala Harris’ residence in Washington. Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey also has adopted the policy.

The Republican governors are trying to draw attention to what they contend is failed border policy under the Biden administration.

Brent Leatherwood, president of the Southern Baptist Convention’s public policy agency, the Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission, said such actions “seem to be more about public relations.”

“We have called long for strengthened border protections and at the same time (for) folks who are coming into this country to be treated in a way that respects the imago dei (image of God),” he said.

Most Americans, including Southern Baptists, “want a solution to our broken immigration system,” Leatherwood added. “Let’s cut down on some of these actions and instead come to the table and figure out a solution that actually respects human dignity.”

Joshua Manning, pastor of the ethnically diverse Community Baptist Church in Noel, Missouri, a town of 1,800 with a large immigrant population, agreed that the transports are the wrong way to highlight a real problem.

“You shouldn’t be loading people up and treating them as political props — that’s dehumanizing,” Manning said.

He said, however, that immigration is a tricky subject. Places that have declared themselves in support of migrants and asylum seekers may not “see the difficulties of everything that’s associated with that,” he said.

In the mostly Latino neighborhood of Corona, in New York City’s Queens borough, the large congregation of Our Lady of Sorrows Catholic church held a special service Wednesday to pray for the immigrants. In an interview, their pastor, the Rev. Manuel Rodriguez, called the transports a “horrible crime.”

“All of us are horrified about the steady violation of human rights by Gov. DeSantis and other governors who are so inhumane and unethical to keep sending human beings to places where they weren’t even informed that they’d be sent,” Rodriguez said.

“You don’t use human beings who are fleeing their homelands in fear, because of violence, hunger, persecution, because of the threat of rape … as tools, as objects to make political points,” he said.

___

Republished with permission of The Associated Press.

Associated Press


24 comments

  • Pastor Sandell

    September 16, 2022 at 8:07 am

    DeSantis should be arrested immediately…for crimes against humanity.

    Reply

    • Impeach Biden

      September 16, 2022 at 12:21 pm

      You are wrong pastor its that idiot Joe Biden that should be arrested and impeached. He has a duty to keep our borders sovereign and he isn’t doing it. All these BLUE BLOWHARDS with their sanctuary city BS got called out. The BLUE BLOWHARDS are fine with them invading RED Texas, but cry foul when they get dropped off at the steps of the BLUE BLOWHARDS. Now toss out that welcome mat, this is your President and this is your party platform.

      Reply

      • Bill

        September 16, 2022 at 1:50 pm

        He could try coming up with actual solutions to solve this rather than his usual BS grandstanding. We don’t have a border to defend so why is he wasting our taxpayer dollars on this? His fox news fanboy’s might be entertained but the other 2/3 of voters probably aren’t. What an idiot.

        Reply

      • Pastor Sandell

        September 16, 2022 at 1:51 pm

        Let’s hear you condemn Trump crime spree before you talk about Biden. Otherwise, you aren’t to be taken seriously. Big joke!!!

        Reply

  • Tom

    September 16, 2022 at 8:09 am

    It is neither, it is the correct thing to do.
    Gov DeSantis is correct.

    Reply

    • Concerned Florida Native

      September 16, 2022 at 8:18 am

      Bulll. This is the racism of the new Republican Party at work. They don’t see these people as humans so why not load them up and haul them off. History shows this getting rid of “the other” starts with shipping them off to other places and ends with far worse.

      This is shameful and disgusting and another step towards open fascism.

      Reply

      • Impeach Biden

        September 16, 2022 at 12:23 pm

        Please post your address so we can send a couple of busses to your house or are you another BLUE BLOWHARD? Protect the Southern Border Joe Biden you incompetent fool.

        Reply

    • Pastor Sandell

      September 16, 2022 at 8:22 am

      You are a morally degenerated man. People should not be lied to and used for political stunts. These people were abducted and forcefully displaced using chicanery and lies. They weren’t even paid for this political stunt…just used like toilet paper. You have no sense of right from wrong. You gonna burn in hell buddy.

      Reply

    • marylou

      September 16, 2022 at 9:45 am

      Florida taxpayers paid for this racist stunt.Why do you think Desantis and Abbott conspired to commit the kidnapping—and possibly human trafficking—at the beginning of Hispanic Heritage Month, Sept 15-Oct 15? These people weren’t even in Florida. They were in Texas. You don’t mind your taxes being shovelled to Texas?

      Reply

      • Impeach Biden

        September 16, 2022 at 12:07 pm

        Racist stunt? That’s pure BS. Same sort of talking points like “they are going to take your social security”, “they are going to take your medical”. All BS fed by the Democrat machine and slurped up by the uneducated out there. The fact is the United States simply can’t feed, clothe, provide medical, shelter, and educate everyone else around the world that simply wants to come here. You want to put them up? Then maybe we can drop a few off at your house.

        Reply

  • Hope

    September 16, 2022 at 9:31 am

    DeSantis has exposed the hypocrisy and incompetence in the Biden Administration in a humane way.

    The Biden Administration is the inhumane perpetrator.

    DeSantis Best Governor in America!

    Reply

    • Joe Corsin

      September 16, 2022 at 11:02 am

      You are a dumbass…

      Reply

      • Impeach Biden

        September 16, 2022 at 12:08 pm

        Hope knows what she is saying. You and your aliases are the dumbasses.

        Reply

    • Impeach Biden

      September 16, 2022 at 12:14 pm

      Biden and his administration are corrupt and incompetent. Over two million have entered this country since the moron took office. This country simply can’t feed, clothe, shelter, educate, provide medical to anyone that wants to come here. There is a legal means to apply for citizenship but what we have is an open border with no control.

      Reply

      • Charlie Crist

        September 16, 2022 at 1:32 pm

        👆Far right propaganda… nonsense. Anything to deflect from Trump crime spree and the fact that they supported such a self serving, empty suit.

        Reply

      • Tjb

        September 16, 2022 at 3:24 pm

        No control? If that is the case, we should get rid of the various Homeland Security divisions protecting our borders. Why spend the big dollars when it not working. No Control!

        Reply

  • tjb

    September 16, 2022 at 9:47 am

    Why is DeSantis using Florida’s money to transport folks from Texas to Martha Vineyard? This stunt is political theater and his campaign should be paying for this stunt and not the citizen of Florida.

    Also, Hope, what is humane about this kidnapping? DeSantis’ people lied to these folks,… more I think about it, is DeSantis the leader of kidnappers or is he a human traffickers

    Reply

    • Hope

      September 16, 2022 at 10:45 am

      It is not a kidnapping when the migrants sign off on paperwork to be flown in private jets to exclusive areas of the United States where they are cared for. Nice try but no sale and you will lose that argument every time.

      Biden is committing an impeachable offense by not securing the border. That is the high crime.

      You need to thank DeSantis and he should win an award. Let’s face it that truth and light and the law trumps the Biden’s failed Administration of dishonesty and lawlessness.

      Reply

      • Pastor Sandell

        September 16, 2022 at 11:01 am

        They lied to them you dope!!! Have you no moral compass at all? No you don’t.. because you have sold out to the power mad right wing. In the end, you’ll all pay for you crimes against this nation. Every single one of you.

        Reply

        • Hope

          September 16, 2022 at 11:17 am

          Calm down you sound like a raving lunatic.

          Apparently your brain is on overload and can’t process all your fake aliases. It is you who needs their moral compass recalibrated.

          The Biden Administration failed to secure the Border that is illegal, that is an impeachable offense and Governor DeSantis brilliantly pulled off one of the best moves in the history of humanity and exposed the hypocrisy and incompetence of the Biden Administration. Don’t look up the Red Wave is about to hit.

          Reply

          • Pastor Sandell

            September 16, 2022 at 1:34 pm

            You going to hell for your far right propaganda and lies…

      • Tjb

        September 16, 2022 at 3:20 pm

        Perhaps it was not kidnapping. Perhaps DeSantis is involved with illegal human trafficking.

        Reply

  • David in Shoreline

    September 16, 2022 at 12:24 pm

    If the Democrats are so concerned, they can restart construction of the wall, deploy the Army to the border, restart the Remain in Mexico policy and start treating Border Patrol Agents with respect. Until then expect more immigrants to be flying the friendly skies to sanctuary designations. Let those sanctuary cities understand the tremendous impact that unchecked illegal immigration has on the living standards of their citizens. Great job Governor DeSantis. Keep up the good work.

    Reply

  • Americus Vigilans

    September 16, 2022 at 12:26 pm

    Perhaps they’re better off than being in TX or FL.

    Reply

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