Sunday, July 25, 2010

Bishop Slattery Of Tulsa On Immigration Reform

This is a balanced, common-sense statement from His Excellency, something sorely lacking in this whole debate. Instead of calling folks Nazis, as Cardinal Mahony did, Bishop Slattery has actually put forth a reasoned shpiel.

Illegal immigration is an issue which concerns every American; but the issues are complex and unless we are willing to recognize the fundamental human rights with which the Creator endows each individual - and enact laws which respect those human rights - our legislative response to the problem of uncontrolled illegal immigration will be the creation of an underclass of hunted, marginalized families, whose children belong neither to this country nor to the land of their parents.

That last point is ignored by just about everyone. Illegal immigration or amnesty or whatever smells a whole lot like slavery. Folks talking about "jobs Americans won't do" is really just another way of saying that we need some variety of rabble who will get their hands dirty, so we won't have to. Whether or not Americans won't do these jobs is irrelevant. The underlying assumption that we need someone else to stoop down to do them is the problem.

However in recent years, the federal government has neither protected the sovereignty of our borders, nor has it provided a realistic means for workers to enter the country legally. Instead it has allowed millions of immigrants to enter the country illegally for the sake of our economy; while leaving it to state and local governments to deal with the resultant chaos of millions of valuable workers who have no legal identity, no automobile insurance (and are unable to obtain it), no health coverage (with no funds to pay for it) and no means of acquiring legal residency...

These men and women broke the law by entering the country illegally; but they did this with the tacit permission of the federal government and most have since become part of the fabric of everyday life in America.

No big news there in the first section, but that last part should be re-read over and over. I'm not a legal positivist or anything, but on a practical level, there is something about that absence of a sanction from the sovereign as an indication of no law stuff. If the government is letting all these people in, then not doing anything about it once they get here, it's accepting what the immigrants are doing on at least some level.

Bishop Slattery then proposes 5 bedrock points for the immigration debate. Given that they are the products of rational thought, we can be assured that, while some will be trumpeted, most will be ignored.

• First the Federal government must find a way to protect its borders;
• Some way must be found to give the 11-12 million undocumented workers presently in the country some form of legal status. This need not include citizenship and should exclude anyone convicted of a felony;
• The creation of various avenues for migrants to enter the country legally based on a formalized agreement between employers and the immigration office.
• The restoration of due process protections for immigrants; and
• A bi-partisan, non-political approach to the problem which avoids the political temptation of promoting immigration reform in such a way as to gain political advantage over one’s political opponents.

Good stuff that will unfortunately be lost in the abyss of polemic.

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