A brief thought on immigration reform

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.

5 Responses to A brief thought on immigration reform

  1. bob witt says:

    Thought you might find this interesting. Its between myself and my brother in law. Just some ideas…..

    The owner of the Phoenix Suns basketball team, Robert Sarver, opposes AZ’s new immigration laws. Arizona’s Governor, Jan Brewer, released the following statement in response to Sarver’s criticism of the new law:

    “What if the owners of the Suns discovered that hordes of people were sneaking into games without paying? What if they had a good idea who the gate-crashers are, but the ushers and security personnel were not allowed to ask these folks to produce their ticket stubs, thus non-paying attendees couldn’t be ejected. Furthermore, what if Suns’ ownership was expected to provide those who sneaked in with complimentary eats and drink? And what if, on those days when a gate-crasher became ill or injured, the Suns had to provide free medical care and shelter?”

    Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer

    Robert Witt to tony
    show details 10:24 AM (10 hours ago)
    To Governor Brewer,

    Robert Saver made an interesting comparison to his business and Arizona’s new immigration law.

    To completely agree with him I would like some definitions defined.

    ‘hordes” – there have been 6 million illegals enter the USA since 2000, about 600000 a year or about .02 % of USA population.

    – if that same horde,% wise, that would mean about 37 fans would be illegally entering the Suns Arena every night.

    – with that horde, and the 17000 fans that cheer on their heroes every night, that would still leave about 763 seats empty every night. So the term horde , a troop or tribe of Asian nomads,may not be a good term to use,

    But of course this is not a game. I assume the ushers and security personnel would have little problem with .02% of new fans.

    But of course this is not a game.Yes their are those who drain the US economy, but most are like you and I,

    -They want a better life for their children
    – a chance, just a chance, for life to be a little better
    – with the clothes on their back they came
    – with a homemade 56 Chevy, they made into a boat, and crossed the Florida straight
    – with a strong back and young age they left their parents to come to the home of the brave and the land of the ….

    I wonder how many living in the US are original Americans? But we know what everyone, all since the Mayflower, have done to them.

    I know the Governor what not exclude medical care to some that was injured or sick in his arena. Who would want to be sheltered in his arena anyway.

    So the comparison stops with the horde but really continues with who will pay for those 37 illegals. A billion a year to Pakistan would be a good start. Or maybe not so many, over 1700, Lockhead F-35 fighters at 89 million a pop.

    Saint Augustine always called the Catholic Church that, ‘Shining City on a Hill”, I always thought of the US the same way.

    “Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free. The wretched refuse of you teamming shore. Send these, the homeless, tempest-tossed to me, I lift my lamp beside the golden door!”

    Ok, maybe not a hill, a shining beacon to the golden door.

    bob witt Go Irish

    Amalia Avila never supported the war. But after her first son, Victor Gonzalez, told her he wanted to join the Marines, she felt a mixture of fear, concern and, finally, pride.
    “This war makes no sense to me,” Avila said last week in her Watsonville home. “I’d ask him why he wanted to go, and he’d just say his brothers needed his help. … But when Victor did get into the Marines, when that day came, I was so proud of him.”

    Avila paused to allow her tears. “It was a beautiful day.”

    It was also one of the last days Avila saw her son. Gonzalez, 19, who was born in Salinas shortly after Avila immigrated from Mexico, served a little more than a month in Anbar province before he was killed by a roadside mortar explosion in October 2003.

    The discord between Avila’s unsettled feelings toward the war and her son’s sacrifice reflects a growing paradox within the Latino community. A majority of Latinos believe the troops should come home as soon as possible, according to Pew Hispanic Center surveys, yet enlistment of Latinos has steadily risen in the past decade.

    According to the Department of Defense, in 2004, the most recent year of confirmed data, Latinos made up 13 percent of new recruits. This is an all-time high, nearly twice the percentage of 10 years earlier. Latinos’ presence in the military still does not match their 17 percent share of the overall population ages 18 to 24. And African Americans continue to be overrepresented in the military, making up about 18 percent of active duty personnel but only 13 percent of the U.S. population. Nonetheless, the absolute number of Latinos entering the armed forces continues to grow.

    And so it goes……………..

  2. gb says:

    If you read Carl Olson’s take on Kicanus’ remarks to the US Congress (posted last wk), you can easily see how “Catholics are at odds with each other” over this issue. While not vehement, Olson did an uncharacteristically awkward job of representing & commenting on the Bishop’s presentation. In the comments, he dismissed the point that we’re all immigrants out of hand. Until Catholics begin to see with the eye of our hearts that our basic call is to make a gift of ourselves, we’ll never be able to formulate a cohesive, practical, loving response to immigration, healthcare or any of our other current issues.

    To say it another way, the problem is not the immigrants, the problem is us.

  3. I agree gb. Thanks Bob for the exchange. I like the disparagement of the “hordes” reference.

  4. A common theme I find in the immigration debate is that the rhetoric reminds me of the civil rights movement and what happened with it. Those trying to fight for the right of human dignity were told they were breaking the law, and the law is the law. They were arrested, beat up, etc.

    Now when I point this out to others, people respond “Yes, the laws were bad. But those who broke the laws had to face the consequences of them, and so should those today.”

    I just don’t get it. If the law is bad, the consequences and punishment is also bad. One can indeed decry unjust punishment for people working against unjust laws.

  5. dnb says:

    May I ask your solution? Maybe open borders; maybe no borders?
    Do you believe that the resources of America are unlimited? Is unlimited entry into America the answer?
    A priest today told me that undocumented migrants take no jobs from citizens; all jobs they take are jobs Americans don’t want? Does that include the fast food franchises in my neighborhood that had large migrant employment, but are now manned by another minority and young people? Does that include the non-taken jobs that my father tells me many of the families visiting the food pantry he mans on Wednesdays have lost their jobs to illegal alients?
    Does Catholic Social Teaching on the matter of ‘sharing’ what you have earned lead you to Communism, Socialism or free will?
    Just asking.

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