Monday, April 17, 2006

As some of you may know, there was a variety of protests led by Cardinal Mahoney through out the country last monday in response to a new immigration bill, which would control immigration by raising illegal immigration to a felony. Here is an L.A. Times article on a recent protest. Ever since, the issue of immigration has been recurrent and I don't exactly know how to respond. My friend, Wess Daniels, has a great dialogue going on the issue. There are several difficult issues. First, I approach the issue from the standpoint of a liberation theologian,which reminds us of the message of the prophets and the example of God's action on behalf of the oppressed people of Israel in Egypt. God is on the side of the socially marginalized. Note the example of Jesus, who counted tax collectors, prostitutes and drunkards as among his friends and disciples not the wealthy and politically powerful. In our society immigrants are undoubtedly among this population. Second, I would like to note the positive presence that Latino immigrants have in the US. The Evloution of the Mexican-born Workforce in the U.S., written by two Harvard economists, is an informative and provocative look at actual role immigrants play in our economy. Our economy is dependent on their cheap labor, which is unacceptable in my opinion. Third, one of the biggest issues seems to be enforcement. Whatever policy we choose, it must be implemented with justice and efficiency. Even if we had the perfect response, if it is not enforced (without violence or militarization, of course) we will still have the same problem. Finally, we need to look at the broader issue. What is bringing immigrants to America? The jobs and lack of sustainable jobs in their country. Our country so often becomes the focus of immigration that we forget that Mexico is part of the problem. Holly has written a post on the need for just trade between the US and Mexico. That's just some thoughts for now as I explore this issue. I'll be posting more in the future and would appreciate any insight or observation you have.


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