Just a brief note on the immigration news from today:
C.S. Lewis once wrote about patriotism in The Four Loves:
Of course patriotism of this kind (love of home) is not in the least aggressive. It asks only to be let alone. It becomes militant only to protect what it loves. In any mind with a pennyworth of imagination it produces a good attitude towards foreigners. How can I love my home without coming to realize that other men, no less rightly, love theirs?… The last thing we want is to make everywhere else just like our own home. It would not be home unless it were different.
The above comment prompted me to write in the margins of my book, “Then America has little imagination.” My perception of the growing hostility towards illegal immigration (and immigrants in general, even if legal) is that many Americans cannot imagine that they have their own homes too and are people like us. At the same time, if we can imagine those homes, we want these people to stay in them. Often the impression I have had in the South at least is the idea that people from other countries should become like Americans, but they should do so outside of America. They should make their homes like ours, but not come here and make themselves at home.
Today’s ruling is bound to cause waves again even within the Catholic world. These may not rise to the height of Health Care Debate waves, but many Catholics will find themselves at odds with other Catholics. Just yesterday at a retreat with Juniors in high school, I found myself at odds with the entire table of five on this issue. They all believed the Arizona law to be rational and necessary, while I find it irrational and fear-mongering.
I suppose I only hope that discussion can be more civil as we strive to achieve solutions than the was the discussion of health care. When I discuss the topic, I tend to focus on the reasons for coming “north,” American imperialism, the universal destination of goods, the Church’s teaching on stealing, the nature of nation states, relational metaphysics, etc. However, I also recognize the dangers of the journey north (having spoken before with “coyotes” in El Salvador) and that not everyone comes north because their family is starving. This summer while down in Mexico, I spoke with a man who planned on leaving the small Mayan village in which we were working in order to come north for no other reason that his own pleasure. He was quite willing to leave his wife and daughter, and she, he informed me, if she “really loved him” should not mind him going north, possibly never to return. Also, if she “really loved him,” she wouldn’t mind if he met and married another woman.
Motivations are hard to read. But I don’t think the solution is the 20 foot fence along the border where I grew up outside El Paso.