“Criticism is something we can avoid easily by saying nothing, doing nothing, and being nothing.”
People, all people, no matter their ethnicity, country of origin, current location, or anything else are created in the image of God. How can they possibly be illegal? It's true, people aren't illegal. In fact, I have tried to find someone making the argument that people are illegal are illegal and I have failed to find such an argument made by anyone. Now, the internet is filled with all kinds of crazies and I would imagine that if I looked hard enough I might be able to find some crazy making such an argument. It seems fair to say that no person in their right mind having given this any kind of significant thought is making this argument. Perhaps some conservative has fallen for the bait (the bait being the statement"people are not illegal!") and attempted to respond with some kind of statement.
Where did this statement come from? This statement came from the same place "marriage equality," "pro-choice," "gun control," and a whole host of other such statements came from. It comes from people who have a brilliant approach to rhetoric and a lot of what the apostle Paul calls "πιθανολογία" which means "persuasive speech." Someone or some group of people somewhere came up with this statement "people are not illegal" and for the uninitiated it sounds as if there is some large group of people or some powerful people suggesting that people are illegal. Of course this surrounds the issue of immigration.
Does the statement "People are not illegal" make a valid point?
This statement assumes an argument that is not being made, but more than that, people are not illegal for being people, but they can become "illegal" in the sense that they have taken some kind of illegal action. For instance, I am not illegal for being me, but if I enter my neighbors locked home by breaking the window and climbing in I have now done something illegal. That is to say, I have committed a crime. When someone uses the term "illegal immigrant" they are not accusing the immigrant of being illegal for being a person, or even for being an immigrant. They are saying that the manner in which they became an immigrant was illegal. Of course there are legal ways of becoming and immigrant and there are illegal ways like overstaying a visa or crossing the border in an illegal fashion. The same thing has been done with the LGBTQ+ community. Any criticism or critique is painted as an attack on personhood.
Saying we have an illegal immigration problem and that people are coming into our country illegally should not be controversial, but some sophists have done a good job of using language to make it seem like conservatives are "racist" or accusing people of being illegal simply because they are people. All of it is an informal logical fallacy called "red herring." It simply means it is a form of misdirection. It might be worth noting that if people are illegal, then so are the people who are presumable accusing others of being illegal, but no such accusation is being made.
As the apostle Paul suggests in Colosians, we should not be convinced of things by "fine sounding" arguments. Instead we should recognize the truth of Proverbs 10:19 "In the multitude of words sin is not lacking, but he who restrains his lips is wise."
John Byrne is a pastor who has been spouting off his opinions his entire life (just ask his mom). This little blog is his venue for continuing in this tradition.