website and blog of Dr. Kevin D Glenn

Of Walls and Borders: Pt. 2 – Financial Concerns

May 8, 2018

Are immigrants a fiscal drain on public resources?

 In addition to the job concerns raised in my previous post, immigration specialist and devout Christian, James R. Edwards, explains another economic concern often raised by Christians seeking to understand and respond to the immigration issue. “Immigrants who pay few taxes and draw heavily upon public services have been a significant burden on the communities in which they have settled.” [1] Such a problem is met with a mixed response from researchers. One study observes that immigrants do not pose an overall financial burden on the citizenry. However, the same study says in contrast that in a localized context, a concentrated immigrant population can and often does prove to be a financial issue for the community. [2] Such a burden is attributed not to the immigrants themselves, but to an insufficient appropriation of resources to these particular geographical areas. However, in many of these locations, immigrants and natives often live in close proximity. The lack of coordination between local, state, and Federal authorities results in insufficient federal funding to these locales. Unfortunately, such problems result in negative perceptions toward immigrants.

In contrast to Edwards’ assumptions regarding the taxes paid by immigrants, Stephen Moore, an economist with the Cato Institute, observes that many immigrants do indeed contribute tax revenue toward the public services they use. In fact, Moore finds the average immigrant pays nearly $80,000 more in taxes than they receive in benefits over their lifetime. This is based on the immigrant paying an average of $105,000 more to the federal government than benefits received from the federal government while receiving on average $25,000 in benefits more from state and local governments than is paid to state and local governments. [3]

The data collected from naturalized immigrants suggests they generally have a positive effect on public resources and nation-wide economics. As one author states, “immigrants do not further split up the pie; they enlarge it.” [4] The glaring problem in this comparison, however, is the missing factor of undocumented immigrants. One can do little more than speculate on the extent to which undocumented immigrants impact the economic well-being of native and naturalized citizens. This is a very important consideration for which information is limited. No doubt the factor of undocumented immigrants fuels the debate since that unknown factor skews existing data. Proposed immigration reforms must account for and address the problem of undocumented immigrants. Such options will be discussed later in this series.

Christians will differ on how to address the economic issues related to immigration policy. But believers can certainly agree that no person, immigrant or native should be measured by their potential capital output, but rather by their status as bearers of God’s image.

[1] Swain, Debating Immigration, 60

[2] Pilar Marrero, Killing the American Dream: How Anti-immigration Extremists Are Destroying the Nation (New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2012), 194

[3] Stephen Moore, A Fiscal Portrait of the Newest Americans (Washington, D.C.: National Immigration Forum, 1998), 20.

[4] Tanya Maria. Golash-Boza, Due Process Denied: Detentions and Deportations in the United States (New York: Routledge, 2012), 204

Why Leonard Sweet wrote a “Forward” for my book, not a “Foreword.”

August 18, 2014

Readers have asked if I made a mistake on the cover of my book, Hand Over Fist: An Invitation to Christ-Centered Civility. The cover reads “Forward by Leonard Sweet.” Was this a misspelling?


Yes and no.


A foreword is another author’s brief introduction to someone’s work. It is the typical way of one author helping another gain notice, or of enhancing a book’s appeal. If Len did anything in a typical manner, then the typical spelling of “Foreword” would be appropriate. If there’s one thing I have learned about Leonard Sweet during my three years of study with him; nothing is typical.


If I could sum up what I’ve learned from Leonard Sweet in two words, they would be, “Look Forward.”


Len has a communication style that redirects his readers and listeners to an experience of faith that invites greater participation, encourages broader imagination, and provides deeper connection than they might ever have experienced before.


For Len Sweet, leading is bound up in redefining what it means to follow, preaching is imagined as giving blood, and the “work” of Christian discipleship is reimagined as child-like play and wonder. He challenges Christians to become expert Paradoxicalists and Jesus Semioticians. He calls followers of Jesus to trust once again the Story of Jesus as told throughout the whole of scripture – Old and New Testament, and to dig for the back story present, but overlooked in the text.


When Len hosts gatherings in his home, they are never, ever called “retreats.” They are “advances.” Every year, these advances are held to educate doctoral students in the disciplines of Semiotics and Future Studies, and to challenge doctoral graduates through his “Future Church Think-Tank.,” both of which I’ve been a part.


Everything that enters Sweet’s home has a story. Literally, everything. Every piece of furniture, from chairs, to lamps, to walking sticks, down to the Uranium-enhanced Jadite coffee mugs you use. They all have stories. A story formed in the past, but intended to inform the future, and told to move the listener forward in their thinking.

So, when Leonard Sweet agreed to write the “Foreword” for my book, I wanted to somehow communicate what his words, phrases, conversations, stories, and ministry have done for me and what I hope they will do for the reader – move them forward.


That’s why cover of my book has that small tribute to my friend and mentor, who is helping to lead so many forward to a bright and EPIC future in service to Christ and ministry to our world.


P.S. Out of concern for my friends with Type A personalities and for those who are editors, I did stick with the correct spelling of “foreword” within the book … 🙂


Order your copy here

Hand Over Fist Q&A with Columbia Faith and Values

August 11, 2014

I had the honor of sitting down with Jenna Fear, a reporter for Columbia Faith and Values, a local news entity that covers issues of religion and faith.

Jenna had some great questions about the book. Check out her Q & A piece, then follow the links to order your copy today!

If you’re in the area, I hope to see you at the launch party in early September!!

Here is Jenna’s report!

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