Illegal people are created by God
There is something unsettling about the current movement to curb illegal immigration into the United States. A buried nuance lies beneath the discussion that leaves me tight in heart and contradictory in mind. There appear to be broad solutions proposed to solve vaguely defined problems narrowly associated with Mexicans.We’re enraged about the economics. The Center for Immigration Studies, a Washington, D.C.-based group advocating tougher immigration policy estimates that “illegal aliens imposed more than $26.3 billion in costs on the federal government and paid only $16 billion in taxes, creating a $10.3 billion fiscal deficit.”The American Resistance, an anti-immigration group, published an article by Kathy McKee, the Arizona state coordinator of Citizens Against Illegal Immigration. She argues: “Using minimum wage workers instead of illegal aliens would (only) increase the cost of agricultural products by approximately (3 to 4 percent) … hardly the making of $10 heads of lettuce and $25 hamburgers.”What is not said is that a 3.5 percent increase on the $200 billion annual agricultural production in this country would amount to a $7 billion dollar increase in costs to you and me. What else is not said is that only about 23 percent of illegal aliens are estimated to be working in agriculture. If all illegal aliens are contributing to production in other industries at the same rate, the annual savings to Americans is more than $30 billion. Considering that many undocumented aliens are working in more labor-intensive industries such as construction, the total cost savings to us are likely much higher.Migrant workers do not just tax the system. They provide backbreaking services that few U.S. citizens will perform at the low wages necessary to keep end products at prices we deem “fair.”Far from acknowledging this, we curse them for sending as much as $20 billion dollars of earnings back to their home countries each year. The human side to this, which we fail to recognize, is that they do it to support families and friends who are living in hopeless poverty. It is a type of foreign aid in which we receive something in the bargain. In reality, the effect is much the same as us sending our dollars overseas to swell the flood of foreign goods and services here to slake our seemingly insatiable consumption. We blame immigrants for taking jobs from Americans. However, isn’t it American industry, in homage to the religion of economic efficiency, that continues to outsource truly higher paying jobs? We’re frightened about national security. But, do we really believe that tighter control over impoverished Mexicans entering our country will bring us safety? If our focus is on thwarting vans full of poor, migrant workers from crossing the border, hoping to inadvertently uncover smuggled weapons of mass destruction in the process, our intentions are misguided, resources wasted, and thinking unsound. Yes, we need to have immigration laws. And yes, we need to enforce them. But, no law is 100 percent effective in prevention. We can no more stop 100 percent of illegal immigration than we can keep all drivers under the posted speed limit or prevent all murders, for that matter. We have to be realistic. Even if we could seal our borders completely, would the extra expense of that effort be less than the cost of illegal immigration? Even if it were a straight dollar-for-dollar tradeoff, would we rather the money feed another bloated federal bureaucracy rather than destitute foreigners in desperate need of life’s basic necessities?Because they lack the pedigree, because they lack the proper paperwork, we marginalize people and refuse to recognize them as fellow human beings. In more palatable terminology, we withhold assistance simply because “they” are not United States citizens.Many barriers are already in place to keep poor, undocumented foreigners out of the United States. Education and property ownership are the true borders that most illegal aliens will never be able to cross. I am not so naïve as to believe that this is a revealing insight. Is it possible that among us are predisposed minds so conniving as to attach themselves to an obviously futile and purposefully agitated cause for the sole purpose of fueling their anger and justifying their prejudices? Illegal immigration is an issue that elicits bitter anger from proponents of drastic changes in legislation and enforcement. Therein lies grave danger. From anger sprouts hatred. From hatred, the thorns of racism extend. In researching this column, I read through a shocking number of websites that are blatantly racist. They accept the mainstream arguments for tighter laws and stricter policy prima facia. They espouse all of the familiar arguments. Popular political sentiment, without modification or embellishment, furthers the ugliness they are promoting.We should be wary knowing that if we jump on this bandwagon, we are joined by many people with evil in their hearts and malice on their minds. We know where malevolence lurks. Where is humanitarianism? Where are the women’s rights activists when we suggest that sending an undocumented mother back to the darkness and filth of poverty to have her baby is just? Is she not a woman? Where are the right to life advocates when a foreign child dies of malnutrition simply because it was conceived on the wrong side of the river? Is he not a child? I don’t pretend to have answers in this debate. I do know what is missing from it, though: compassion. If discussing this issue gives us pause, we need to take an honest look at our motivations in pursuing it. Is it to make the world a better place? Is it to preserve this resource-rich mass of real estate only for us? Or, is it something uglier than selfishness, even? Perhaps we could begin the discussion all over by referring to our fellow human beings as something less coarse than “illegal immigrants” or “undocumented aliens,” keeping in mind that the true difference that separates us is random luck of birthright and the proper filing of paperwork.We are talking about illegal people here; created by God and made into outlaws by us.This week Roger Marolt will read your comments publicly at firstname.lastname@example.org
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