Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Immigration Reform with Eyes of Faith

       Over the past few years I have more and more become an advocate of comprehensive immigration reform.  At the outset I want to state that the reason is not political. It is religious, born of my commitment to live the Gospel.  To tell the truth politicians of both liberal and conservative leanings have disappointed me.Enough said about that let's take a look at a few issues.

      Many law-abiding citizens understandably stop immediately at the issue of legality. They decide that if they are here illegally the debate is over.  Not so fast please.  I draw on my personal experience here.  I was a missionary in Bolivia over thirty years ago.  Because of this I speak Spanish and have had the privilege of preaching parish missions in Spanish in the southeastern United States.  Most of the immigrants whose stories I have heard would love to have come legally into our country but the door was closed.  We allow, I believe, 5000 unskilled laborers into our country every year.  Many business leaders say that we need 250,000 such permits.  Without debating the numbers let's agree that a lot more such permits are needed.  The undocumented (I refuse just to label them as "illegals".) people that I see are faith-filled Catholics who work hard at jobs that most Americans refuse to do.  They are not lazy parasites drawing unjustly on the welfare system, though yes, there are some of those.  Many pay taxes and pay into social security.  Most are raising children who are fine US citizens.  Many immigrants as well as their children have served in the US military, some of them sacrificing their lives in Iraq and Afghanistan.

      Lest those reading think that I am naive and looking through rose-colored glasses I assure you that I am not.  I am aware that drug traffickers, smugglers and human traffickers are among those who who cross our borders illegally.  The borders must be secured to be sure.

   What to do?   If 11 million people are undocumented and most of them came here to escape poverty and find a home here let's create a path to legal status and possible citizenship.  This is not amnesty. It is not a free ride. It is not just handing out citizenship papers instantly.  There has to be a path with strict requirements, perhaps a more difficult path than the one traveled by those already here by legal means.  Doing this would help weed out the bad guys because I don't thin that the crooks would apply for fear of getting caught.

     Some say, "Just deport them all."  At what cost financially?  And to our image as a country?  Unfortunately the Obama administration is deporting a lot of people and splitting up families in the process.  Is this an expression of the family values

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