Author’s Note: The views expressed in this post are my responsibility and do not necessarily reflect the views of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
I am the daughter of an immigrant. My mom came to the United States from Denmark when she was sixteen years old, knowing that she would likely get engaged to my dad. She was right. They returned to Denmark to be married, since it was easier for an American to marry an immigrant outside of the U.S. Although she could have spent the rest of her life as a Danish citizen living in our country, my mom chose to seek American citizenship. She says that, if she was going to spend the rest of her life here, she wanted a say in who runs the government. Also, her children would be born in America and automatically gain citizenship. The process for my mom took four years, but she wanted to do everything right. Because of my mom’s experience, I have always believed that it’s important to follow the law.
But this isn’t where my thoughts on immigration end. I know that the law isn’t always fair or compassionate. It tends to focus on numbers more than people. Denmark doesn’t have the perfect government, but, for the most part, its citizens don’t wake up every day fearing for their lives. There are many nations—torn apart by war or corruption—where that is the case. Yet we expect people to jump through hoops without taking basic human needs and tendencies into consideration. People become desperate.
We have our problems in the U.S., but these are nothing compared to problems faced in countries throughout the world. Millions of people wonder every day how they are going to feed their families, keep them safe, or provide their children with a better future. Their governments don’t provide the range of basic freedoms that we enjoy.
As a Christian, I know that the Lord has asked us to love and help everyone, spiritually and physically. We are asked to share the things we have been blessed with. The Lord tells us that, “if ye turn away the needy, and the naked, and visit not the sick and afflicted, and impart of your substance, if ye have, to those who stand in need—I say unto you, if ye do not any of these things, behold, your prayer is vain, and availeth you nothing, and ye are as hypocrites who do deny the faith” (Alma 34:28).
You may ask, “But what about our own citizens in need?”
This is one of the beautiful things about God. He tells us to put Him first. Believe in Him and turn to Him, and He will guide you. Then share what you can. I don’t know how He does it, but God then multiplies what we give—and receive. A few months ago, I realized that, because of this, we shouldn’t be afraid to welcome people into our country. I hear about—and have felt myself—the fear that we will lose jobs, means, and opportunities if more people come into the U.S. But fear is not faith. The Lord has promised us blessings when we obey Him. When we live according to His laws, those promises are still in effect, no matter how many people live among us. The Lord keeps His promises. When I am righteous, I don’t need to be afraid of anyone. I am not going to miss out on opportunities. In fact, it is my personal belief that compassion will provide us with even more opportunities. And, unfortunately, from my experience, those who aren’t willing to give to those in need outside of the United States are also unwilling to give to those in need inside the United States.
I trust in God. I trust that, if I am willing to open my heart and welcome those who need help, He will help me. It is a little bit frightening because I don’t know what will happen, but the Lord hasn’t broken a promise before and I don’t believe He will do so now.