Early in his new book, Just Immigration: American Policy in Christian Perspective, Mark Amstutz recounts the story of a young man in California who had completed law school and was seeking admission to the state bar. But his aspiration was so controversial that he eventually found himself in front of the California Supreme Court.
The problem? This young man was not an American citizen. His parents had brought him from Mexico to the United States when he was just a boy, and he was undocumented. In a surprising decision, the California Supreme Court ruled that even though the man was not authorized to be in the United States, he nonetheless could be admitted to the state bar and practice law.
Amstutz, professor of political science at Wheaton College, cites this story as an example of the incoherence and double-mindedness of US immigration policy. It certainly is that. But in a way, it’s also symbolic. What could better epitomize our national immigration debate than the image of a young man, on the threshold of fulfilling his American dream, facing the reality that he was never an American? On one side, hope for a better life. On the other, demands of justice and the rule of law. What should we make of this?
It’s this moral and political knot that Amstutz, who has researched and taught for nearly 30 years on the intersection of Christian ethics and public policy, wants to help untangle. Just Immigration is an admirably thorough, well-researched overview of the United States’ immigration policy. It’s also an explicitly Christian look at the ethical dimensions of national immigration laws and practice. Amstutz aims to reshape how American believers approach these intertwined issues.