Posts Tagged ‘19th-century immigrants’

In my last post (Part 1), I examined some of the issues brought up by Jenny Hwang in her recent Christianity Today article, “Arizona Border Crisis”. So far, I’ve been less than impressed with her research and reasoning. Let’s continue…

This law should trouble conservatives because it greatly broadens the government mandate and could add a fiscal burden to the state. In some studies, for example, the setup and operational costs of having local and state immigration enforcement programs has been $4.8 to $5 million a year. Also, many churches that minister to immigrants by integrating them as the newest members of society may be charged with carrying out unlawful activity.”

This is an odd paragraph for a number of reasons. What does she mean, exactly, about this law broadening the government mandate? It does put some more responsibility on Arizona law officers/agents, but it’s certainly within their purview as members of Law Enforcement. Essentially, they are picking up some of the slack, due to the federal government’s apparent (intentional?) apathy on the matter. Financial considerations are certainly appropriate when budgeting resources, I agree. And large programs & projects do cost a lot of money. When it comes to enforcing the law, though, I would think safety/security and justice should take priority. Plus, by just throwing those numbers out by themselves, she isn’t really making much of a case. (I’ll address that third sentence in a moment.)

Illegal Immigrant at Church

Illegal Immigrant at Church (borrowed from NY Times)

And, again, the problem isn’t with immigrants, per se. Ours is a nation of immigrants, after all — the Great Melting Pot. The problem is with those who decide it is OK to break our nation’s laws to get here and then complain when we have the nerve to punish and/or send them back. Those are the risks you take.

…While the majority of Americans want to end illegal immigration, targeting families and churches that are ministering to the strangers in their midst is a step backward in addressing illegal immigration by preventing the integration of the newcomers, restricting the churches’ ability to share the Gospel with these new neighbors, and deterring focus off of effective solutions that will fix the broken immigration system.”

I could be wrong, but I really don’t think there are grounds to say that families and churches are being “targeted”, as in legislators conspiring to use enforcement of immigration law as a means of harassing immigrant families and interfering with the work of the churches that minister to them. I doubt that anyone’s sharing of the Gospel was in mind when crafting the bill; nor were they thinking “Let’s bust up some Latino families and cause them some misery!” I don’t read minds, but I’m pretty sure. Alarming readers of these “unintended consequences” borders (pardon the pun) on fear-mongering. As I’ve pointed out in Part 1 and earlier posts/comments, most of the proposed scenarios for potential harassment and arrests of church & family members are unfounded. And, if the “newcomers” arrived here illegally, then their integration should be prevented, before family & societal ties become stronger, which is precisely the kind of thing liberals (and tenderhearted conservatives) point to as a reason for granting amnesty.

In the early 1800s, when Irish immigrants were coming in boatloads to America’s shores, they were scorned and discriminated against, and encountered many difficulties finding jobs.  Many stores had signs that said ‘No Irish Need Apply’ in their windows. These new Americans were initially not welcomed because they were different from the Anglo-Saxon, Protestant Americans who had settled the land before them. When we look back on previous immigrants who came to the U.S. and consider the unwelcoming environment to which they first arrived, it is also important to remember that these immigrants’ descendants are considered full-blooded Americans who integrated and contributed to our country in immeasurable ways.”

The fact that they were “scorned and discriminated against” is, indeed, shameful. I would add that the anti-Irish attitude was not just because they were “different from the Anglo-Saxon, Protestant Americans” that preceded them but also because they were seen as competition for the existing jobs. Sadly, that’s an “immigrant issue”, no matter where they come from; but, it’s really beside the point, here. Those immigrants (for the most part) came over legally and (for the most part) did their best to assimilate and become productive members of American society, which is why their descendants had the opportunities to make the wonderful contributions that they have.

Let me try to give the short version of her argument… Nineteenth-century Irish immigrants to the U.S. were scorned and discriminated against, just like today’s Hispanic (and other) immigrants. Those Irish immigrants had descendants who became productive American citizens, just as today’s immigrants will. Therefore,… what? We should be lax with our immigration laws and ignore whether or not immigrants are here legally or not? Why? So we have the opportunity to share the Gospel with them, perhaps? That’s a non sequitur. Even if the Irish immigrants in question came here illegally, OR if the law was anti-immigrants in general, Ms. Hwang’s implied conclusions just do not logically follow. (If I’m missing something or misrepresenting her case, please let me know.)

This new Arizona law highlights the need for the White House to lead, and for Congress to enact, comprehensive immigration reform that will increase border security, provide more responsive legal avenues through which future workers can come to the U.S., and require undocumented immigrants currently in the U.S. to earn the right to stay in this country while paying appropriate penalties.”

On this, at least, we can largely agree. I’m all for the White House showing leadership on this matter, as long as it is responsible leadership that respects our immigration laws and the principles behind them. Increased border security is definitely an immediate needed. I’m not sure what Ms. Hwang has in mind for these “more responsive legal avenues”. Eliminating some bureaucratic red tape could be helpful, for example, but I hesitate to promote making American citizenship easily attainable. It is a privilege, and those not fortunate enough to have been born here should be willing to go through some hoops to gain it.

It is amazing to me the number of people who seem to think that anyone should have the right to go live wherever they want. It’s a naive view of the world that seems to be ignorant of things like national/state sovereignty and national interests, economic considerations, etc. And, once here, many seem to think that the government owes them, that they are entitled to many rights & privileges. Gee, I wonder who gave them that idea…? (Any of them ever tried slipping into Mexico or Cuba or China and demanding, like, anything? “Sure, buddy, here’s some gruel and a cold, rat-infested, 6×6 cell. And if you complain, consider yourself volunteered for the next public execution.” The nicer countries will probably just ignore you and let you fend for yourself.)

As for that last bit, I’m glad Ms. Hwang added those last four words. I’m not for blanket amnesty (obviously), but neither do I think every illegal immigrant should just be kicked out of the country forthwith without regard for things like family status, criminal record (or lack thereof) both here and in their native country, employment history, job skills & education, “extenuating circumstances”, etc. I would probably be more strict than Ms. Hwang, but perhaps some sort of multi-point system can be developed to determine who goes, who stays, who spends time in jail & how long, who pays fines & how much, etc.

When it comes down to it, the first commonsense step in such “reform” is to enforce the laws, federal and state, that are already in place. And that’s exactly what the new Arizona law is trying to do.

As for Ms. Hwang, I hope her other writings are better researched and more carefully reasoned and written.

My final comments are now available in Part 3.