Arizona took off its rainbow shades


By: Robert E. Meyer

Most of the arguments over the heated immigration issue take on a similar form. People claim that Arizona’s new law allows police to racially profile Hispanics. Those in favor of the law swear it does not, but only allows police to question immigration status once someone has been contacted by law enforcement regarding an unrelated issue where there is a probable suspicion. Both sides claim they have read the bill–and both can’t be correct in their interpretation of the details.

From that point of departure, the argument usually regresses into innuendo, whereby those favoring the law are deemed de facto racists. If non-sequiturs are in fashion, we might as well say that those opposed to the law must be antinomian, opposed to law and order in general. One conclusion seems as likely to follow as the other.

Many suggest that we must stop new illegals from crossing the border first, then we can develop a strategy for dealing with those already in the country. It’s kind of like saying “Stop the bleeding immediately, then we’ll decide on how to suture the laceration.”

Other people think the issue should be attacked from the demand side, thus favoring a major crackdown on large employers who are only too happy to hire on cheap labor. “If we don’t hire them they will go,” seems to be the bromide du jour of this group. Then, of course, their are the accusations that the real motivation behind non-enforcement is to secure an eventual new voting constituency. The cheap labor/new voting bloc dichotomy, appears to insure that many on both ends of the political spectrum will find justifications to be lax on immigration enforcement. This basically covers the major positions under debate.

I must also state that some of the euphemisms being used to describe the illegals don’t cut it. The term “undocumented workers” assumes that everyone crossing the border is seeking gainful employment. Undoubtedly, most of these people are just looking for a better life and are willing to earn it. But that is a far too naive and optimistic an assumption, particularly when illegal immigration today is inexorably linked to national security and the increased incidence of criminal activity, at least in Arizona.

In all the fervor over the immigration issue though, a few important aspects are being neglected and go unmentioned in the national debate.

Recently Mexico’s president, Felipe Calderon was here in the U.S. lecturing our congress on the discriminatory nature of Arizona’s new law designed to stem the chaotic law enforcement problems within that state.

But isn’t he being hypocritical? After all, aren’t illegals crossing the U.S. borders to escape the deprivation and oppressive situation in Mexico that continues under his leadership? So what’s he doing about it? It seems like he is encouraging the exodus and expecting us to absorb the refugees as a matter of duty.

Then, of course, there is the matter observing the “compassion” of Mexico’s own immigration laws.

In “Monster,” a song produced several decades ago decrying the current state of America, the lead singer from the rock band Steppenwolf, John Kaye, asks the age old rhetorical question concerning foreign policy. It is “Does everyone have to be just like us?” The answer is a resounding “No,” but look what happens when they aren’t more like us. We wind up in a situation like an overcrowded life boat. How many illegals refugees can this country support before there is too much strain on America’s social safety net?

Yet another problem is that religious denominations are weighing in heavily on this issue. Liberal Protestant denominations and some within the Roman Catholic hierarchy are pushing for immigration reform that seems tantamount to amnesty. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi is encouraging priests to convey this message from their pulpits. This is because the population in general (those inhabiting the pews) favors the Arizona law, while the church hierarchy stands in opposition.

These religious groups are using a truncated polemic based on scriptural passages that encourage being gracious and hospitable toward strangers. These passages, however, hardly have in mind a literal invasion of millions of people capable of threatening the social and economic structures of the United States. The Church should only consider civil disobedience to remedy their perceptions of social justice as a last resort when no legitimate options are available. They need to remember that the state has national obligations, while their own ministries of grace reach beyond borders.

Clearly other options are available than willingly harboring illegals. Churches can send missionary groups to Mexico to help the poor. They can take up collections from their congregations for foreign aid. They can also remonstrate for legislation that is more compatible with preserving the legal and constitutional obligations of the state. The most troubling thing about the positions taken by these church groups is that there seems to be little criticism of the Mexican government.

Immigration discussions appear to be an issue at least as polarizing and emotionally charged as universal health insurance has been.

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