Tuesday, March 28, 2006

News of the World, Opinion of the Blog

This week is one of those weeks where I really wish I could stop reading newspapers and editorial sites. The illegal immigration argument is getting really loopy. Yes, as Catholics, I know we're supposed to welcome to the strangers in our midst, but you know what? It doesn't seem like the strangers want to be welcomed. When you've got five hundred thousand people in Los Angeles waving Mexican flags as some sign of their desire to see US immigration policy stymied, it makes you wonder if the protesters really want the United States to be able to enforce its own laws. This really ticks me off, kids. If you want to come here to work, fine. Maybe we do need a guest-worker program of some kind. If you want to work here for twenty or more years and not become citizens, then what's the point of being here? I've been hearing things on the radio about mass protests being the preferred form of political participation in Latin America. Here in the US, citizens actually get to vote, thus giving you an actual say in how things are run from city issues to national offices. It's not a true democracy, but then I don't want something that can be easily run on the whims of one group or another.

So, maybe we do need to militarize the US-Mexican border, rotating regular, reserve and National Guard units to patrol the line and ensure no one crosses it except at specific ports of entry. This is how it was done with Ellis Island. I remember Democrats having warm-and-fuzzy feelings about Ellis Island, so why not make sure immigrants get herded towards new ports of entry where they can get registered for guest worker permits or start a citizenship process? The illegals who are already here that are willing to come forward and use the McCain-Kennedy solution (payment of fines and back taxes, and getting sent to the end of the immigration processing line, mandatory English education) are going to be few and far between, so what do we do with the recalcitrant illegals? How do we get them brought into the light where they can declare their intentions?

This is where the Catholic Church needs to realize that showing mercy to illegal immigrants does not include hiding them from The Man. Good Christians are to follow the civil law (see Matthew 22: 15-21, Romans 13 in its entirety, 1 Peter 2: 13-17 if you need examples) unless it directly contradicts God's laws. You can run around grumbling about how corrupt and evil the government is, but if people come into our nation without announcing their intent, that is doing something wrong as well. And if we help them maintain that secrecy of intent, does that not also compund the wrong originally done? Two wrongs do not make a right, and three wrongs certainly don't make a right. It just compounds the injustice done.

If illegals want to get legal, then they should come forward and have the various church agencies help get them the aid that is needed as opposed to pretending that we're the right-thinking Dutch who are hiding European Jews from the Nazis. I was listening to the local programming block of the local Catholic radio network this morning, and it was basically a scare-fest of how the evil racist Republicans were going to hunt down poor defenseless illegal immigrants and put them in death camps. To all the Chicago-area Catholics out there who think this is what the Bush administration and all the Republican congressmen want, please take your lips off of your crack pipe. There were claims thrown about how we need to respect the illegal immigrant's human dignity. How about respecting the dignity of the people who live here legally, whether by dint of birth or the citizenship process? Do we not rate because we already live here?

Also, if all of these illegals come in and decide that they don't want to become citizens, then what are the real benefits of US citizenship? Paying taxes under penalty of jail time instead of deportation? Voting? Military service? The first one is no real benefit. The second one seems useful but if no one is following or enforcing laws made in our name, then what is the point? The third one is what binds our nation together through good times and bad. Military service takes everyone who can handle its demands and throws them together to work for the common benefit. if we're not defending US citizens, then what are we defending?

I want an immigration policy that has the interests of US citizens placed as priority the interests of those who wish to become US citizens as next priority, then on to permanent residents and guest workers in terms of whose issues should be resolved. I want an immigration policy that does not buckle under threats of racism when it is enforced. For that matter, I want an immigration policy to actually be enforced. I also want an immigration policy that reflects our need to defend our borders. I also want English to be the official language of the federal government. You don't have to require English to be the only language for states or for business transactions, but assimilation into US culture by way of English-language primacy is a must.

For some of you sports-minded folks out there, I'll use a baseball analogy here to demonstrate: When the Chicago White Sox (an American League team) play at Wrigley Field (home to the Chicago Cubs, a National League team), they don't use the designated hitter rule (where someone else bats for the pitcher for the entire game). Their pitchers have to bat for themselves. The point is that the White Sox don't get to dictate policy to their hosts. The Cubs dictate how an important aspect of the game is played. So too with immigration policy. Those of us who are actual citizens should be able to set the rules. Now, can the Cubs say that they get to have first at-bat, can have five outfielders instead of three, start ahead by ten runs, and only have a two-inning game, stacking it as much in their favor as possible? No. There are certain rules that are established beforehand to maintain fairness or ensure a just outcome. The umpires are there ensure the rules are followed, not to ignore the rules as they see fit. If you're suspected of cheating, the umpire takes a look at the situation and removes you from the game if necessary. In this case, the umpires are acting as our law enforcement and judicial system should. If you don't play by the rules, then you're removed from the game and booed and jeered out of the stadium.

It's difficult to determine if a guest worker program will be effective or if the penalties paid will really be anything more than a symbolic gesture. There will be other illegal immigrants who ignore the process altogether. Those immigrants should be found and deported to the other side of a militarized border. We need to be fair to our citizens, then to those applying for citizenship, then to those who admit to only wanting to work here temporarily, and then to those who think our system is just something to be laughed at. To the last group, they should understand that it's because Americans try to do what is merciful that our nation has become such a good place. We try to do the right thing and expect the same of our government. If our nation was run like many lesser governments in this world, we'd just take you out to a landfill and make you disappear by way of a chipper-shredder. So please, don't mistake our mercy for weakness. Eventually our patience is tried enough and our kindness is removed. So, come to our country, but play by our rules. Make yourself and your intentions known when you get to our border or port of entry. You will save yourself a lot of trouble, and find that you'll be given the benefit of the doubt more often than not. Give us citizens a good reason to trust you. We'd rather have that good reason than always have to pretend like you don't exist.

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