Posted in Our Blog on August 30, 2011
There are currently more than 300,000 people in the United States undergoing deportation cases, and, as you may have heard, President Obama recently enacted a policy to change our country’s deportation practices. Each of these 300,000 is going to face review on a case-by-case basis; the new policy assures that only those undocumented immigrants who are considered “harmful” will be considered for deportation.
What it essentially means is that precious government efforts will no longer be siphoned off on this non-critical and gargantuan litigation money-pit going after hard-working people who obey the law. As per the Sacramento Bee: “Individuals brought to the U.S. as children, undocumented spouses of U.S. military personnel and immigrants who have no criminal record” [full article] will not be deported despite their alleged illegal status. This does notmean that they will be granted citizenship or amnesty; rather it’s a relaxing of this country’s unnecessarily harsh blanket deportation policies. Not all cases are created equal, obviously – the immigrant who came to the US as a young child and has grown up as ostensibly an American, who has graduated college and worked hard every day of his or her life, should certainly be treated differently than the hardened criminal.
The reaction to the news of this policy was predictably mixed and split down party lines. The left celebrated – although there are those who caution this policy is merely a baby step in the right direction toward a sensible and effective immigration policy – and the right railed against it.
What’s frustrating in the reaction is the typical fearmongering coming from the right, as if this new policy sends us down the path of an open border, unlimited amnesty, widespread unemployment, and eventual Armageddon. Not altogether unsurprising, though, considering the new immigration laws in Arizona and Alabama, laws that are excessive and unnecessary, that are drenched in xenophobia.
What are we afraid of, exactly? Losing our jobs, our livelihoods, our way of life? As if this country was not at its core an immigrant nation, a cultural melting pot founded on the idea that any hard working person can chase and realize the American Dream.
The paranoia and hate behind the Alabama and Arizona laws is egregious. One of the most moving appeals to reason that I’ve seen came from Reverend James Flowers, Jr. of Mobile, Alabama, who wrote in an editorial for the Press Register:
“The real culprit in all of this is the growing global disparity of wealth, and in our back yard it is Mexico, Latin America and many of the Caribbean nations that languish, Lazarus-like, at the American gates of wealth.
“Hebrew Scripture, the teachings of Jesus in the Gospels and the writings of the Apostle Paul implore us to welcome the stranger… Scripture is unequivocal with respect to the taking care of the stranger, the outsider, the immigrant among us.
“Why so? Because Scripture is also unequivocal about the claim that God loves all of humanity, not just one group, not just one people, but the nations of the world; and to love them means God wants dignity and well-being for them whether we label them illegal or otherwise.”
[You can read the complete article here.]
Any productive discussion we as a divided nation have trying to solve this tough issue should take into account not simply the cold financial and/or border considerations but also the effects the decisions will have on the hundreds of thousands, if not millions, of individuals that live and work among us. We should do our best to find the best “Win-Win” solution we can that helps unclog our overburdened Courts, yet continues to hold the criminals and misbehaving non-citizens accountable. And does not give any blanket amnesty, either. This approach demonstrates respect for fiscal responsibility, judicial economy, and human dignity, at least more than any other plan offered so far.
And respecting that vast population of people whose fate is being debated so fiercely throughout this process is an obvious must.
For what would it profit us to forget our own varied – and humble – immigrant roots, and the graciousness of the peoples who welcomed our own forefathers to this land – in the name of blind and overly harsh fiscal and border protectionism some have argued for, and lose our own dignity and humanity along the way?
Consider this writer’s voice and vote as one – among many – in support of President Obama’s forward-thinking decision on immigration policy.