a bit on immigration

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So, if you’ve caught the news, or your favorite politically minded blogger, recently you may have heard there’s a bit of a ruckus concerning immigration. For those native to Southern California, or Southern Anywhere In The Southwest, this is not a new topic of consideration. It’s sort of like a volcano, always seething under the surface erupting when some tectonic plate moves up or down, right or left.

Most folks are aware of the problems involved. There’s a lot of people coming into this country, illegally, to do what is mostly a whole lot of work. They make a big effort to do things we wouldn’t really want to do with no effort, all because, for the most part, such jobs may be bad but they pay, and I know how irritating it is to do a lot of work for no pay, or no work for no pay. Both are very poor for one’s diet, which is a problem, and more of a problem when a person is responsible for the diet of others.

Cardinal Mahoney, the LA Times, and others came out against the most recent attempts in congress to fix this issue once and for all. Honestly, I haven’t been paying attention to the details. Call me cynical, but I think it’s mostly all smoke and mirrors, with little that will be changed. But, after seeing the demonstrations, and reading a some bits on other sites, I suppose I’ll weigh in with my thoughts. Being I took sixteen weeks of Latin American history way back in Wheaton land, I am, of course, somewhat of an expert. Well, not really. But that and my own personal family history does inform my thinking.

Some have said this is the Civil Rights issue of our generation. I couldn’t agree more. I think this is absolutely a Civil Rights issue, not quite at the level of slavery, but definitely up there with the Jim Crow era, and child labor issues, and big labor disputes.

However, I don’t think Congress has any part in this. At least not our Congress. This is the biggest Civil Rights issue of our generation, but this is a problem of Mexico. The problem in the United States is we are forced to come to terms with problems that should not be problems, and make decisions in which no side can be righteous because the problem at the core is unrighteous from a much earlier source.

Let’s pretend for a moment. Imagine if the situation were reversed, that we were living in Bizarro North America, where up is down, where brown is white, and where Americans were eagerly making there way underneath fences and through badlands to get to the underclass jobs of the thriving Mexican economy.

Now, I can say I know a few Americans. If Mexico decided this method wasn’t working out for them, that they could not support two countries worth of people, who would we complain to? Would there be a mass demonstration in Mexico City led by people of all colors to insist that the Mexican government have better schools, better jails, better conditions for all the anglos who just want to eat? No. Of course not. We’d be in Washington. We’d be making this a political issue in every election from the local water board to the President of these United States. My goodness, I remember the last Presidential election and one of Bush’s big marks against him was the perception there would be a net loss of jobs in this country. Not a net loss of people going to other countries to find jobs, but a net loss of jobs, because of a recession, that was already changing.

Imagine if a vast number of people in our country had no hope of a job and had to scurry through the desert to do something silly in Mexico? That would be a Civil Rights issue of profound importance speaking of the failure of the American States to serve our own poor. Roosevelt faced just this, and radically changed the American scene.

So what now? In ethical circles today, however, there is no other moral agent besides America. There is no other cause, no other subject besides America. If there is something wrong. Blame America. This is particularly non-Christian, however. For a Christian, who in this world recognizes no borders as a limitation nor nationality as a badge of distinction should not just be about willing to criticize their own politics. A spade, to a Christian, should be a spade.

Which means, to me, the most Christian thing to do, the best illustration of ethical principles, would entail taking it to the governments most responsible, and making a major show of change. We don’t need Democrats or Republicans to do a thing. We need the Mexican government to stand up for its own people, to fight its own corruption and rebuild a country that does not force millions of its own citizens to leave their family and homes to go to something stupid in a foreign country.

In my estimation Jesus would not be saying a word to Bush, but would be down there chatting with Fox, chatting with the various Bishops, encouraging the people to take a stand, and encouraging people up here to take a stand in the way that really matters.

Otherwise, it all just looks like the same old dumb politics dressed up in religious and ethical clothes, but cares very little about actually helping people in the ways that count.

The Christian response to all of this? Get Mexico in order. Get all those countries with starving populations in order. Until they do their part, until their leaders of churches and politics are willing to step up, America can never do the right thing, and it’s a waste of time for us to think we can.

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