Saturday, May 26, 2007

Immigration reform and Christianity 2

What about the poor?

Last time we talked about how to apply the Christian Faith to the current debate over immigration reform, and we looked specifically at the biblical concept of applying the law equally to everyone regardless of their economic situation. But if we stop there, we’ve only considered half of the biblical data. The Lord commands us to love our neighbor as ourselves and specifically to do kindness to the poor. What does that involve in this situation?

First, we should say that the application of the law fairly doesn’t necessarily mean lacking mercy. In the current situation, illegal aliens are part of an underground economy that does not afford them the same protections that those in the legal economy have. This leaves them vulnerable to illegally low pay, unsafe working conditions, and the constant threat of loss of their pay and maybe even deportation if they complain. Changing this situation is a good thing for them.

Now we can move on to what else to do to help these people. First off, it is pathetic that a nation as poor as Mexico sees it's best avenue for economic growth to be sending its working class to another country. I know changing an economy is going to be hard work, but they are not just taking the easy way out but also the self-destructive way. As American citizens, we need to pressure our government to insist (and also assist) the Mexican government reform, realign, restructure – whatever is necessary – their economy. There has been progress in this area, but there is room for so much more.

Secondly, I am in favor of making it easier for Mexicans to enter the US to work. One of my chief complaints about the currently favored bill is that it makes it easier for skilled Mexican workers to come to the US. Both of them. Apparently the authors of this "compromise" think we're talking about China. We do not generally have a shortage of skilled workers, and Mexico does not have a surplus. We should allow in what they have.

I'm in favor of the temporary worker program and increased immigration (i.e., permanent residents on the road to citizenship) in numbers that our economy can handle (an important caveat). I'm not equipped to say how many Mexican workers/immigrants our economy can absorb, but we all know it is not an unlimited number. We must require our legislators to use common sense in this endeavor because over burdening our economy will help no one.

In summary, if our immigration laws are unjust (that is, they are not in accord with God's law), we can and should work to have them changed. But we have to be careful to change them wisely and not simply react emotionally to the situation.

But what about those who are already here? Let's talk about that next time.

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