Pence Defends US Immigration Policy in Guatemala … Using Scripture

Here’s a pro tip for you: always bet on the Lakers now that King James has abdicated his throne in Cleveland for a sunnier reign in Los Angeles.

Oh, and another: always bet on the Trump administration to take the stupidest possible position. Unlike LeBron, who is after all only human, that’s a gamble you can take to the bank week after week.

For example, after all the uproar over Jeff Sessions’ use of Romans 13 to defend the extravagant cruelty of separating migrant families at the US border, you might be tempted to bet against administration members citing scripture.

You would be a sucker.

Vice President Mike Pence and Nielsen met with Central American leaders on Thursday to discuss the number of migrants trying to cross into the U.S.

In a speech in Guatemala, he said the U.S. was working to reunite families “from your nations who’ve been caught trying to illegally enter the United States – because we believe that we can — as the old book says — “do justice and love kindness.”

But Pence also cautioned: “If you want to come to the United States, come legally, or don’t come at all.”

(Emphasis mine.)

It takes some nerve to defend the Trump administration’s senseless immigration policy to Central American leaders, but that’s Pence for you. Manafort knew what he was doing when he selected that dead-eyed Opie from Indy. The man could lie about the dead grandmother in his basement and not break the plastic in his smile.

After this speech, though, I’d want to run a metal detector over Pence’s zipper to check for brass castings. “Do justice and love kindness” is a quote of Micah 6:8, a scripture much beloved by social-justice types, and one followed up by admonitions like:

Your wealthy are full of violence;
your inhabitants speak lies,
with tongues of deceit in their mouths.
Therefore I have begun to strike you down,
making you desolate because of your sins.

More broadly, the same scripture Pence appeals to is quite clear that “justice” applies across the social board, to widows, orphans, and immigrants:

When an alien resides with you in your land, you shall not oppress the alien.

That’s from a little book called Leviticus… surely Mr. Pence has heard of it? And in case the point isn’t already clear, Hebrew scripture is also quite clear that there is one law—and only one law—for citizens and immigrants alike.

Consistent exegesis never was this administration’s strength, though. Come to think of it, consistent anything other than cruelty has never been their stock in trade. Pence was probably offering the Central American leaders (many of whom are evangelicals in the same strain as Pence) a bit of scriptural wink-and-nod: We’re going do justice (enforce the law) but we promise also to love kindness (treat your citizens decently).

That’s another lie, of course. But here’s another pro tip for you: never bet against the Trumpists indulging their mean streak while simultaneously nodding to their Christian base.