My Faith Votes | Immigration, Punishment, and The New Way Forward Act


Immigration, Punishment, and The New Way Forward Act

The New Way Forward Act is an immigration reform bill sponsored by 44 members of Congress, including Rep. Alexandria Ocasio Cortez of NY and Rep. Ilhan Omar of MN, and endorsed by 145 advocacy groups like the ACLU and the Immigrant Justice Network.

It’s a bad idea.

If passed, it would protect those who should be punished and punish those who should be protected. As you learn more you might wonder, are they actually trying to destroy the country? Here’s the problem in a nutshell-- this bill builds on the destructive ideology that allows selfish behavior to go unhindered, and our whole nation will reap the punishment for it.

The Bible has something to say about the role of government, and one of those roles is “to bring punishment on the wrongdoer” (Rom 13:4). “Punishment” -- there is a word that has fallen out of favor in our politically correct society. We don’t want to punish wrongdoing anymore. It’s almost like we don’t really believe in absolute right and wrong. We want to reform, rehabilitate, or eventually tolerate. And that is appropriate, sometimes. But not always. Sometimes justice calls for punishment.

If the New Way Forward Act were to become law, it wouldn’t just change immigration, it would actively work to bring violent criminals into the U.S. using taxpayer dollars. It doesn’t seem believable, yet it’s true.

Like all countries of the world, the U.S. has a border. The border is a good thing. The border allows us, in part, to decide who comes into the country and who doesn’t. We want good, honest, hard-working people to come in. We want to keep selfish, violent, destructive people out. Seems obvious, right? Apparently not.

The New Way Forward Act would change the law so that no crime would result in automatic deportation for an illegal alien. Right now, many crimes, especially violent crimes, result in automatic deportation. That would all change under this bill.

Imagine someone who is in the country illegally caught stealing a car or threatening someone with a weapon or convicted of sexual assault. There would be no requirement to deport him. In fact, any crime that would result in less than a five-year prison sentence would no longer result in deportation at all. The person would serve the short prison sentence and be back on our streets.

Is that what we want?

This bill would also change who is allowed to enter the country. Current law will not allow people convicted of drug offenses or violent crimes (called “crimes of moral turpitude”) to enter. Obvious, right? But this new law strikes that restriction. It would grant dangerous criminals the ability to come to America.

Why on earth would we want to do that? Are we so short on criminals that feel a need to import more? 

Like parents at home and administrators at a school, we have a responsibility to protect our residents from those who would harm us. We get to choose the type of people who come in. The authors of this bill are foolishly ignoring this responsibility. And in the process, they are unjust to the citizens, and legal immigrants of the country.

One sponsor, Rep. Jesús Garcia, boasted that it would end the “prison to deportation pipeline.” I’m sorry, but I don’t want that ended. If you entered illegally, then committed some destructive or violent crime that landed you in prison, you shouldn’t be here. Get in that “deportation pipeline” and out of the country for good. We want good people here, not bad people. It’s not a complicated concept.

The bill would also change the law so those caught falsifying a passport would not be deported. So, imagine: an MS-13 gang member, previously convicted in Honduras, would be allowed in. Or if he doesn’t want to wait his turn, he can falsify a passport and sneak in. Once he gets here he can go on a crime spree. And even if he’s caught robbing a store, carrying a fake passport, and selling drugs, he still won’t be deported. How is any of this fair to those honest people waiting their turn to enter the U.S.? Or to the citizens?

As bad as this legislation is, it doesn’t end there. American taxpayers would actually pay to bring criminals back into the country who had previously been deported. Yes, bad guys aren’t just allowed in, now we pay for them to get here. We would buy airline tickets from all over the world to fly thieves, burglars, and violent thugs back to the United States. Bizarre.

This legislation is the continuance of damaging cultural drift in which bad behavior is tolerated and implicitly encouraged.

Schools across the country are struggling with disruptive, hostile, or even violent students. In many cases, teachers are not allowed to discipline the kids. Neither will the administrators punish bad behavior. It is scolded but ultimately tolerated, and then the entire school suffers. That leads to more bad behavior as the kids falsely learn that they won’t reap what they are sowing in their bad behavior.

If a person comes to believe that we do not reap what we sow in life, then we are in a very destructive place as a society. And that is happening all over. This is why swift and just punishment is so important, especially with our youth.

Last month gunfire broke out in downtown Seattle. Two young men were shooting at each other. They missed but killed an innocent woman and wounded a 9-year-old boy among several others. The two suspects, both in their 20’s, have somehow amassed 65 arrests between them in their short lives. Sixty-five arrests, including 35 convictions and multiple felonies! And yet they were still both on the streets that day, and now good people are dead and wounded.

These men were not properly punished. They should have been serving long prison sentences, but instead, they were free to kill and injure, and they did.

We see a similar approach in many of our cities in the area of homelessness. It’s safe to say everyone living on the streets needs either help or punishment. Yet cities like Seattle and San Francisco require neither. They simply leave them there or even make it easier for them to abuse the drugs that are killing them. They provide “safe-injection sites,” and stop prosecuting open drug use or even theft and vandalism. What is left but to watch them slowly die out in the open and bring the city down with them? All in the name of compassion.

But that isn’t compassion. It’s horrible. It’s bad for the homeless and bad for everyone around them.

President Donald Trump told a story in the State of the Union speech of a violent, illegal alien who was arrested five times, but he was not appropriately punished. He wasn’t detained for long. He wasn’t deported. Instead, he was released back into the community. The government failed to do its job.

That man then killed an innocent civilian in cold blood and wounded numerous others. You may remember seeing the victim's tearful brother being recognized during the President's speech.

The government’s failure in this area is not an accident. It is intentional.

The New Way Forward Act continues an awful trend of misplaced priorities -- of tolerating destructive behavior and letting it hurt honest citizens and destroy our society. Exactly backward of what a just law should do.

There is a time for reward. There is a time for punishment. We are failing in our duty of enforcing the latter, and our country is the worse for it.

Caleb Backholm is a married father of three and a small business owner. A “political nerd” since childhood, he first started publishing social and political news commentaries in the Jr. High school newspaper and has been writing ever since. He attended Northwestern College in St. Paul, MN where he studied Broadcast Communications, Biblical Studies, and History. Originally from Washington State, he currently lives in Ft. Worth, Texas and is a student at Southwestern Seminary. Caleb can be reached at


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