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Every denomination needs one of these...

Immigration is an issue?

Thursday, December 06, 2007

In Ohio, illegal immigration and border security are barely recognizable issues. It might be all over the national news, but here, it isn't even water cooler talk and it's not something I'm passionate about at all. That doesn't mean that I don't get amused when fellow UCCer's feel the need to jump into the fray.

The United Methodist News Service is reporting today how an interfaith coalition is circulating an odd petition on "immigrant neighbors". From the Iowa Interfaith Immigration Coalition
We pledge ourselves as people of faith and goodwill to stand with our immigrant neighbors who have come to the United States from throughout the world. Recognizing the moral imperative to welcome the stranger in our midst, we commit ourselves to support laws that affirm their dignity, preserve their families, and acknowledge the value of their presence among us.”
On it's face, this is a truly faithful statement. However, in the current political environment it is also a dishonest statement. The issue isn't about immigrants, the issue is about illegal imigration.

UCC Iowa Conference Minister Rich Pleva is quoted in the UMNS article:
Rich Pleva, conference minister of the Iowa conference of the United Church
of Christ, said he grieves "the mean-spirited tone to our contemporary debate on imigration."

"Certainly the issues confronting us are difficult and complex," he added, "but at least it ought to be possible for people of faith and, in particular, people who value devotion to Christ, to engage in this conversation with grace and respect."
People of faith should also speak honestly about the issue. If this is about illegal immigration, then they ought to have the courage of their convictions to say as much.
posted by UCCtruths, Thursday, December 06, 2007


Interesting to have these two articles posted together... one proclaiming separation of church & state, the other claiming that our faith statements should be the law of the land.
I believe our faith can't help but influence our political views, whether we are aware of it or not. But our political statements should be based on humanitarian arguments, not religious ones. It can be done.
Doubt if Lynn will weigh in on this one.
commented by Blogger Steve, 10:08 AM  
I don't know exactly what you mean by the statement that this issue is about illegal immigration, not illegal immigrants, but, being involved with it myself, my conclusion is that the core driving force behind the people who are giving this issue its energy is essentially nativist xenophobia. Some, and not a few, are out-and-out racist fascists. They have found a way of expressing their hatred in a way that is publicly acceptable.

They should be called on it, and removed from the debate just as other racists are marginalized and shunned in public debate. Once that happens it will be very easy to come up with a reasonable policy that respects economic realities, human rights and our national heritage of immigration and assimilation.
commented by Anonymous Alan, 9:40 AM  
Alan, the sentence you quoted incorrectly was "The issue isn't about immigrants, the issue is about illegal imigration."

The distinction I am making is one one that Rich Pleva and clan disingenuously mix: imigration vs. illegal imigration - they are not the same.
commented by Blogger UCCtruths, 11:16 AM  
I looked at it again, and I think I see your complaint. There is a tendency amongst those of us who desire human treatment for illegal immigrants and some sort of rational reform of our policies to "soften" the rhetoric by dropping the term "illegal." Some use the term "undocumented" which I find to be a clumsy locution. My preference is to use the term "economic migrant" because, basically, that is their motivation and not very many of them are true immigrants in the sense of wanting to adopt a new homeland. I feel most of them want to earn a few bucks picking lettuce and then go back where they came from.

I think calling them illegal, while not completely incorrect, is not completely correct either, and is unfair. The immigration and naturalization laws are not part of the criminal statutes, they are part of the regulatory statutes, so violations do not make one a "criminal". However, the term "illegal" tends to paint economic migrants as criminals, and they are not. Droping the term, even if it has some justification, will promote clearer thinking.

Clear thinking is indeed needed on this issue. As one of the current presidential hopefuls said, it takes seven years to "wait in line" to come here just to pick some lettuce. Under those circumstances, they just come, and the lettuce growers aren't in any position to refuse them a job.

The reason this situation exists is because the hard-core, nativist xenophobes need someone to bully, and they have found a socially acceptable target.
commented by Anonymous Alan, 9:20 PM  
I agree that xenophobes have latched on to an issue that originally flared up over national security - but that doesn't mean that it isn't a legitimate issue. Like I mentioned in my post, it's hardly an issue in Ohio but I do recognize the need to have a fair, equitable and humane system in place.
commented by Blogger UCCtruths, 10:12 AM  
"hard-core, nativist xenophobes need someone to bully, and they have found a socially acceptable target"???
Talk about using language to isolate, denigrate, and therefore dismiss as having noting good to say. Seems to me there is more than one bully in the argument.
commented by Blogger Steve, 10:45 AM  
I agree with ucctruths that this is a legitimate issue (however irrelevant in Ohio) and that their are many legitimate and humane positions that may be taken on it... ranging from stricter enforcement to a much more permissive policy.

I do not characterize those who advocate a more probationary policy as necessarily being "hard-core nativist, xenophobes". However, as ucctruths has noted, such people have latched onto the issue, and, in my opinion, this is where most of the sustained momentum on the issue comes from. It is also the reason progress is not made on a humane and realistic policy.

Anyone who has followed the issue and interacted with the “hard core” activists will easily see that they are inhuman extremists. You may verify this by listening to Frank Jorge of the Antelope Valley Independent Minutemen encourage political assassinations at a "Voice of the People" rally in support of Hazelton, PA's inhuman and discriminatory anti-immigration law.

commented by Anonymous Alan, 12:46 PM  

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