Friday, February 8, 2008

On Immigration

Over on our parish blog, The People of St. Mary Magdalene, Gregory Glenn gives an update and reflection on a recent raid here in Utah, just south of Salt Lake City. Those rounded up are victims of our government's inability and unwillingness to deal with the issue of immigration in a fair, compassionate, and comprehensive way. Put more succinctly, in the American way. We need to heed Lincoln on this issue and go wither the better angels of our nature lead us. Since when do we turn away people looking for opportunity and willing to work hard for it?

We can be thankful that all of the major remaining candidates for president, with the exception of Gov. Huckabee who, in a play taken from the ever devolving Gov. Romney's playbook, changed his position from one of reason and compassion as a governor to one of vindictiveness to appease the far right, have workable comprehensive views on immigration.

I do not see immigration as two related problems (i.e., closing the border and deporting 10 million + people , which would be logistically and bureaucraticlly impossible, even if it were desireable, which it is not). Rather, I see at least three distinct issues, all of which need to be dealt with by any reform that is comprehensive:

1) Border security, not just for our safety and well-being, but for the safety and well-being of those who want the opportunity this great country offers so badly that are willing to risk their lives for it.
2) A guest-worker program that allows those who want to take advantage of the opportunities available to them in the U.S. to come and work on either a seasonal or on-going basis, this will go most of the way to solving the first issue and all without building a wall.
3) Work with Mexico and Central American governments to effect the necessary political and economic reforms that will allow their economies to grow, thus giving more people opportunity in their own countries. Obviously NAFTA and other ill-conceived free trade agreements have not helped working people on either side of the border.

To paraphrase Chris Bacich from the National Diaconia- Being anti-immigrant in U.S. history has always meant, at least to some degree, being anti-Catholic. Remember, the ethnic slur wop for Italian-Americans is an acronym for without papers.

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