Friday, January 04, 2008
Illegal Immigration: The Church's Response?
As the political season heats up, I will jump in the fray from time to time with some issues and questions. One of the big issues is illegal immigration. It is a significant problem. Regardless of political stripe, I think everyone can agree that our borders are broken, and President Bush has been AWOL on this issue. Last year's immigration bill was killed in the Senate because of pressure by social conservatives. So, for all my socially conservative readers, I want to present you with some facts, and then get your response.
Firstly, if there are as many as 12 million (some say as high as 20) illegal aliens in the US, how do you propose to "get rid of them." You do realize that rounding up that many people and removing them will be the biggest and most expensive forced migration in human history? Many of these people came here as small children. This is the only home they know. How would you find all these people? Where would you detain them? How would you physically get them to their country of origin? How will you pay for their lawyers? What courts will hear their cases? That brings up another misconception that needs to be straightened out. I hear people say that the US constitution only apples to US citizens. That is wrong. The Constitution places restraints on the Federal government - it does not grant or take away rights from persons. The protections that the Constitution offers applies to ALL persons in the US - period! So every illegal alien taken into custody has the right to legal representation and a court hearing. We simply do not have the manpower, facilities, money, or fortitude to remove 12-20 million of our neighbors. It is a mean-spirited fantasy that will NEVER happen.
Here are some more facts that we should consider. The following numbers come from D Magazine, “Mexican Invasion,” by Rod Davis, February 2007. Let this really sink in:
Of the 31 million total immigrants in the US, about 12 million are undocumented with 1.5 million in Texas (5% of the state’s population).
43% of Dallas area Hispanics are immigrants and only 19% are legal.
In Dallas almost half of the foreign born residents have no documentation.
50% of these immigrants live below the poverty line and have no health insurance.
Dallas County gained 175 000 Hispanic residents between 2000 and 2005.
Exit polls during the last election reported that 66% of voters listed immigration concerns as “extremely” or “very important” and 50% said undocumented aliens should be given a chance to earn legal status, while only 30% were in favor of deportation.
Entering the country without proper documentation is a civil matter, not a felony. Therefore, it is not a “crime.”
In 2006 workers sent $24 billion to Mexico - representing 2.5% of Mexico’s GDP.
In Texas, immigrants contribute almost $53 billion to local economies.
Undocumented Texas workers contributed $1.58 billion in taxes to state coffers in 2005.
If all undocumented Texas workers suddenly disappeared, the gross state product would drop by $17.7 billion in revenues.
Jobs follow market needs: a skilled carpenter in Mexico earns $125 per month; the same laborer can earn over $2000 in the US.
Sixty families in Mexico control 40% of the nation’s wealth.
Unemployment rates in Dallas - Fort Worth stand at about 5% - the result is a labor shortage.
70% of the Dallas construction workforce is immigrant and largely undocumented.
Texas Workforce Commission reports that Texas will need almost 125 000 additional restaurant workers and over 35 000 additional truck drivers in the next few years.
A language other than English is spoken in 44% of Dallas homes, as compared to 20% nationally.
High School graduation rates for Hispanics in the DISD is 32% - graduation rates for undocumented immigrants are even lower.
What should the church's response be? What is the proper Christian attitude? Somehow I don't think "round them up and send them home because they're lawbreakers" is an appropriate attitude for people who follow Jesus and are supposed to show kindness, compassion, and hospitality. What Kingdom values should we apply here? Remember, we are Christians first, Americans second.