Conservatives demanding illegal immigrants be deported often claim they are good Christians.

They say these immigrants deserve to be deported because they are breaking the law, but the real reason is much more xenophobic --  based on a fear rooted in a different religion, foreign culture, or sometimes just skin color.

The self-proclaimed Christians don’t care that the immigration law is unjust or that the current administration has added a layer of cruelty in enforcing it. They will even try to justify it by saying that it’s nothing that wasn’t done under the previous administration. As if that makes it right.

Christ would not condone how we’ve treated illegal immigrants. He would show them compassion, especially those fleeing violence and seeking sanctuary. He would not deport them. And he certainly wouldn’t take their kids from them or throw their kids in jail with them like some cartoon villain.

If you have any doubt about that, re-read the parable of the Good Samaritan. This lesson from Christ isn’t just about how we should treat strangers, but also foreigners and even people we despise.

In the story,  a Samaritan comes across a Jew who has been beaten and robbed and helps him. He does this despite the hatred between their two countries.

In the passage before this parable, Jesus tells us ‘I tell you, there are no commandments greater than these — love God with all your heart and love your neighbor as yourself.’ When he was asked who’s considered a neighbor, he gave as the parable of the Good Samaritan and defined ‘neighbor’ as the Good Samaritan.

We used to be a nation founded on those principles. We weren’t just a nation of immigrants, we welcomed ‘poor, tired, huddled masses yearning to breathe free.’ We treated them like neighbors.

We used to be a Christian nation. We can be one again. And we can do it right here.

About 10 months ago the Clay County Sheriff’s Department broke up a family by deporting 10 people after they cited a driver for not dimming her headlights.

Not even a month ago the Washington County Sheriff turned over  a couple of men to ICE after arresting  one of them for transporting an open container and driving without a license, and the other for driving while suspended. Were those minor offenses really worth being deported over?

Tell Clay County Sheriff Chuck Dunn and Washington County Sheriff Justin Cordry the next time they have an opportunity to turn someone over to ICE for deportation to reconsider it. Tell them to remember the Good Samaritan. Tell them to do what Jesus would do.