Sunday, May 02, 2010

Immigration Reform

I just finished looking at my friend Laura Cadena's pictures from the recent rally in downtown Dallas protesting the recent immigration laws in Arizona. There's been plenty of news coverage about the laws, and the Arizona governor has made a couple of needed changes, a step in the right direction at least. So my goal isn't to regurgitate the news -- there's plenty of places you can do that. My goal is to think "out loud" on my computer screen, and see what might come to the discussion as I do. Maybe nothing valuable, who knows. It's certainly not a polished piece of prose. But we'll see.

So in no particular order, some musings: first, my thoughts are mostly about responding to immigration in general, and undocumented immigrants in particular. Border security is important, and needs to be dealt with. But IMHO it's not the primary issue behind the AZ law, or behind most people's anti-immigrant stance. If the undocumented folks I have met are indicative of the group, then I believe the vast majority of undocumented people in the US pose zero security/safety risk. Immigration laws--and their enforcement--are also important issues, but again, not so much what I want to deal with here.

Second, I'll try to admit my biases. I think there are too many laws already, on virtually every issue, not just immigration. The problem is we don't enforce what we already have with any degree of consistency. If someone is a drug dealer or terrorist, changing immigration laws will not deter what they do. It's not like they think "Oh, now there's 2 laws against me, I guess I better stop." If someone is a drug dealer or a terrorist, they should go to jail, regardless of their country of origin or their citizenship.

I think that most undocumented persons in the US are not terrorists, drug-users or dealers, or any type of law-breaker, other than that they either came to or stayed in the US in violation of some immigration law. Again, if my experience is any indication, virtually all current undocumented people are hard-working, productive folks who are not trying to "game" the system and get free stuff. They are doing what they believe to be in the best interest of their children, and their children's children. They are working and paying taxes, albeit to SSN accounts that are not theirs, which means they will not draw social security themselves some day. They love this country and do not like being lawbreakers, but they see it as the lesser of two evils, so to speak.

I think that some immigration laws are unjust, and that followers of Jesus should be just as passionate about just immigration laws as they are about just marriage laws or just taxation.

I think that the word "amnesty" is being thrown around too much by anyone who disagrees with immigration reform that doesn't deport any and all current undocumented people. If I get stopped for speeding and ask for deferred adjudication, pay a sizable fine and keep my record clean for 90 days, and in doing so have my record not reflect the speeding ticket, I did not get amnesty. So too a solution that involves fines and law-abiding life for a period of time before being granted permanent legal status but does not include deportation is not amnesty.

I don't think that everyone who opposes dealing in this way with the current undocumented folks are racists. I know some are, but I also know that there are good and godly people who believe we do need to deport all people here illegally. This gives me pause and makes me want to be even more humble and careful in how I put forth my thoughts. I don't take it lightly when godly people disagree on an issue. I also think those who disagree should not take it lightly either.

I think if there is racism rearing it's ugly head (it's certainly not dead in the US, by any stretch of the imagination), it should not be accepted nor tolerated by any follower of Jesus. Period. We the church have been on the wrong side of that issue before, and should never be again.

I think that we don't pay enough attention to history. Winners of wars get to write the laws in our world, but I find this diametrically opposed to Jesus' admonition to the disciples that they should not be the kind of leaders who lord over people, like the world does, but they should put others first and be servants of all, with him as the example of what that looks like. This is a whole other blog topic I plan to write on, and probably one of the more controversial things I muse about, so I'll try to be brief. Did winning a war 170 years ago make us right in setting the borders as we did? Have we for 200 years now practiced "might makes right" as a nation in violation of Jesus' command?

Okay, I'm stopping now. I told you this was a bunch of random thoughts, but for now it's the best I have. I look forward to the dialogue, so please feel free to comment.


Keith Giles said...

Thanks for taking the time to sit down and share your thoughts on this, Arnie.

As I was praying for a woman today at lunch who is facing deportation back to the Philippines, and has two children and a husband (all of whom are US citizens), I realized first-hand what an evil thing this really is.

What's the benefit to sending this woman back to the Phillippines? She has a job. She pays taxes. She has 2 children who need her. She has a husband who loves her.

How can we say we're pro family, or pro marriage and still support breaking up this family and this marriage for something so arbitrary?

Pray for Sylvia if you would. Her hearing is June 1st.

Arnie Adkison said...

Keith, thanks for your comments. Wow, I will definitely be praying for Sylvia.

My eyes were opened a lot during my 5 years in San Antonio working at Baptist University of the Americas. There were many people I met during that time struggling with the injustice of US immigration laws, which for 100 years have favored northern European immigration, especially over against Latin Americans and Asians. That somewhat smells like racism to me.