Immigration is a moral issue

My refrigerator is covered with pictures of family, friends, children, library receipts and my son’s artwork.  However in Arizona, parents who are undocumented are clearing their refrigerators and placing prominently on them a single sheet of paper.  This one piece of paper tells social services what to do with their children if they are arrested.

==The Rev. Susan Frederick-Gray

The Unitarian Universalist Association has recommended “immigration as a moral issue” as a study-action issue for its congregations for 2010-2014.  On Saturday, I attended a social justice conference Saturday at First Universalist Church of Rochester, N.Y.,  sponsored by the UUA St. Lawrence District.

The principal speaker at the conference was the Rev. Susan Frederick-Gray, parish minister of the UU Congregation of Phoenix and part of the UU Immigration ministry.  Others were Diane Chappell-Daly, an immigration lawyer from Syracuse; David Friedman, a St. Lawrence district trustee; and Pacho Lane, an American who identifies with Mexican culture and nationalism.

I learned things I didn’t know.  One is the cruel manner in which unauthorized Mexican migrants are deported.  Immigration authorities confiscate their property, including medications, cell phones, all forms of ID and any cash above $15, and deport them to a city in Mexico where they’ve never been.  Husbands are separated from wives, and parents from children.  Sometimes legal residents or even American citizens are caught up in these sweeps because they happen to be without proper documentation.  Reasonable people may differ about overall immigration policy, but no decent person can think this is right.

“Illegal immigrant” is a misleading term.  To reside in the United States without proper authorization is not a violation of American criminal law, although it is a crime to re-enter the United States once you have been deported.  “Undocumented migrant” is inaccurate, since many have documents; it is just that the documents are expired or invalid.  Arizona’s hard immigration law is not just a restatement of federal law.  It goes beyond federal law.

Frederick-Gray pointed out that until 1924, there were no restrictions on crossing the Mexico-U.S. border.  For many decades after that, Border Patrol enforcement was lax, and people routinely crossed back and forth.

During the past 10 or so years, there has been a crackdown that has made crossing more dangerous, and therefore more lucrative.  The Mexican drug cartel has taken over the business of smuggling people and combines it with smuggling drugs.

The private prison industry is an important lobby for a crackdown on immigration, and an important employer in Arizona.  In the current bad economy, it may be the only growth industry there.

The best estimate is that there are 12 million unauthorized migrants in the United States, and this can’t help but contribute to the high unemployment rate and depressed wages of American citizens.  The uproar over illegal immigration is perfectly understandable, but deportation is unlikely to change the situation.  The Obama administration is deporting roughly 400,000 unauthorized migrants a year which means that, even if no new migrants enter the United States, it would take 30 years to deport them all.

President Obama has stepped up deportation of unauthorized migrants in hopes of gaining support for a path to citizenship for those remaining in the country.  But such support is not forthcoming.  If Republicans would not support this idea when proposed by President George W. Bush, it is unlikely that President Obama would change their minds.  The best that can be hoped for is the Dream Act, which allows children who grew up in the United States a path to American citizenship.

The focus of the conference was on unauthorized migration from Mexico into the American Southwest, but migrants come from many countries and enter all regions of the United States.  Upstate New York is an important agricultural region, and many farmers employ unauthorized migrants.

It is not that American citizens don’t want to do farm work.  Employers who pay minimum [*] wage and obey American labor law can get all the workers they want.  But the economic incentive is to hire workers outside the protection of U.S. law.  Chappell-Daly said U.S. courts have ruled that it is legal for an employer to refuse to pay back wages to an unauthorized migrant.  Somebody in the audience, however, said that the New York Department of Labor will try to get workers the wages they’re owed—if they can find the person after they’ve been deported.

The Obama administration’s position is that the executive has the responsibility to enforce the law, whether he personally agrees with this or not.  This is a real moral dilemma.  I don’t think any of us wish to live under a government in which the President can pick and choose which laws to enforce and which to ignore.

There is a choice, though, as to the methods by which the law should be enforced, and the amount of effort that should go into enforcement.  U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement deports 400,000 migrants a year, and not 40,000 or 800,000 because Congress has budgeted for 400,000 deportations.

Given current high unemployment and wage stagnation, the uproar over illegal immigration is perfectly understandable.  But I can’t get indignant against people who for the most part are simply trying to provide for themselves and their loved ones in the best way they can.

And there would be few unauthorized migrants if there were no employers eager to hire members of an underclass outside the protection of U.S. law.  The Atlantic Monthly writer Conor Friedersdorf has mischievously suggested that the solution to unauthorized immigration problem is to (1) fine employers of unauthorized migrants and (2) give a green card to any unauthorized migrant who turns their employer in.

###

For more about immigration as a moral issue, click on the following links.

PBS Frontline’s Lost in Detention, which aired Oct 18, 2011.

Arizona Immigration Ministry Facebook Page.

A Culture of Cruelty: Abuse and Impunity in Short-Term U.S. Border Patrol Custody, a link to a report by No More Deaths, a humanitarian organization which rescues migrants in danger of dying while crossing the U.S.-Mexican border.

Border Patrol: “A Culture of Cruelty”, a news summary of the No More Deaths report.

Barry Estabrook’s ‘Tomatoland,’ An Indictment of Modern Agriculture, a book review in the Washington Post, June 10, 2011.

NPR Fresh Air’s Who’s Really Writing States’ Legislation?, which aired July 21, 2011.

NPR Fresh Air’s National Chairman of ALEC Responds to Report which aired July 21, 2011.

NPR Talk of the Nation’s How Corporate Interests Got SB1070 Passed, which aired Nov. 9, 2010.

NPR Morning Edition’s Shaping State Laws With Little Scrutiny, which aired Oct. 29, 2010.

NPR Morning Edition’s Prison Economics Help Drive Arizona’s Immigration Law, which aired Oct. 28, 2010.

Immigration as a Moral Issue, the Unitarian Universalist Association’s proposed congregational study-action issue for 2010-2014.

###

Click on the following links for some of my earlier posts on immigration.

The question of birthright citizenship.

The least bad option on immigration.

Death along the Arizona border.

∞∞∞

[*] Update 11/29/2015.  I should have written “market” rather than “minimum” wage.

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2 Responses to “Immigration is a moral issue”

  1. Dave Francis Says:

    Note by Phil Ebersole: Since this comment seems to be partly about my post on “The Tea Party and Occupy Wall Street,” I have attached a copy of this comment to that post.

    AMERICAN WORKERS JOBS ARE VULNERABLE?

    There is vast difference between the ‘OCCUPIER’ demonstrators exhibiting their adversity to American society and capitalism and the growing roots of the TEA PARTY. How the leftists newspapers and extremist activists can acquaint the multitudes of ordinary Americans of Senior Citizens and black, white, Hispanic, Latino, Asian people; the blue and white collar American workers is beyond me. The people who are crowding the pillars of Wall Street, think that the wealthy businessman owe them something? These people strumming their stuff are nothing like the TEA PARTY. Members of the Tea Party carry signs with them and congregate for their demonstrations, but don’t leave after departure a disgusting mess and cause the police to react with tear gas and angry retribution. The Tea Party is not George Soros anarchist, communists and people who hate America; they are Americans who want non-violent change.

    The Tea Party agenda is to reduce the size of government, to earlier days, to reinvent the Tax Code, so nobody escapes paying their fair share; whether corporate giants as General Electric, Google, with exceptions, no options. Each new tax plan highlighted by the potential presidential candidates should be scrutinized such as Herman Cain’s 9-9-9. The legislators should dismantling farm subsidies, sugar and ethanol, oil, energy and thousands financial entities carefully crafted loopholes? Renegotiate fair trade agreements with foreign countries, which are deviously engineering, so we get a fair deal from countries as china. Incidentally why in the world would be giving Communist China free money, when we are paying off part of our 15 Trillion debt to their government? It really is a shame that Donald trump is not running for president, as he stated that he would place at least a import tariff of at least 25 percent on every countries products, that are playing us for stooges; like China.

    Out of this internal mess caused by corruption and downright incompetence, all US government agencies that do not conform to the US Constitution, should be returned to the authorities at the state level. Throughout these last decades we have remained indifferent to the expansion of Washington, but the consequences have become unsatisfactory and a fiscal catastrophe. Our schools and education are a dismal failure, as they have been mismanaged by layers of bureaucrats, at the Department of Education.

    The creation of small and large business cannot get off the ground, as America has developed into a country of out of control rules and regulations. Industrial nation as china can file documentation for a new bridge in a day and approved for the engineers to begin construction the same week. While in America to get any approval can take months, that’s if you’re lucky. An example was my Uncles family where they applied for a permit to lay gas lines, for a new construction project in Lancaster, California. The permits were not approved for 9 months by the city of Lancaster; they spent all this time in bureaucratic limbo, waiting to further advance the housing project. The whole construction project ended up in the hands of the bank, which was overshadowed by the real estate bubble bursting.

    One of our greatest problems that have not been resolved yet is illegal immigration. The financial aspect is main concern that must be severed for good, that most prudent people know is costing over 100 billion dollars a year. This is not a static figure as the more people who illegal trespass here, the more money drained from each tier of government. These outlandish sums of money should be going to our old folks, homeless and sick. This welfare assistance should not be appropriated by government agencies for children of illegal families, under the misinterpretation of the 14th amendment.

    Illegal immigration is no longer an issue that can be ignored, as it has literary shown up as an main contention. It’s a fallacy driven by Democratic and Liberal doctrines that these people are here just to work? Go to any Sanctuary City, such as Los Angeles, California or Nevada and determine your own views of the financial situation in those States, or any other state that has assumed these illegal policies. As I repeated many times—it’s all about copious greed and potential votes in future elections. Neither party is without blame for the ramification of this daily immigration problem. Whether it’s another drunken alien, killing a United States citizen or a person of permanent residency the occurrences are rising. Only the rural press or E-media tends to even bother printing about these terrible incidents, which is carefully concealed by the Liberal progressives.

    Criminal aliens have spread across the country, with their gangs and the poison they have spawned through each state. In good stead, President Obama showed great promise, with extending ICE’S authority with a commitment to end the mayhem, but that has slowed under his current directive of Obama and the reticent leftists in the Department of IN-Justice allow these less criminal blemished persons to remain on the streets. To the TEA PARTY all people who unlawfully jump the fence or arrive by airline are criminals. Everybody should be tracked and then deported or leave by their own act. The Tea Party recognizes no path to citizenship, amnesty or immigration reform or the small covert arrangements each year, importing undeserved visa holders that big companies have exploited as cheap inferior labor.

    Perhaps our last chance to close the door on the unwanted poor of other countries is Lamar Smith’s ‘LEGAL WORKFORCE ACT. Bill H.R. 2885 has the empowerment to stop illegal aliens claiming the work of the 24 million American jobless. Legally known as E-Verify it is a strong tool, to disrupt foreigners from seeking work, since they cannot pass the verification barrier that I-9 audits have emplaced. New versions of E-Verify can detect fraudulent documentation, specifically with the assistance of the approval from State Departments of Motor Vehicles nationwide.

    If you want to fax for fee go to NumbersUSA or please call your House Representative at the Congressional Switchboard.202-224-3121

    Before the new session of Congress we need the assistance of patriotic Americans to harass, their Federal and State legislative Ways and Means Committee lead by Speaker of the House John Boehner (R-OH) to get his fellow House Representatives their reluctant backsides and sponsor Bill H.R. 2885.

    Remember Congress is filled with distended corruption, whose measure of responsibility only is influenced by the wealthy donors and their special interest lobbyists. Unless full sponsorship of Bill 2885 gets to the house floor, there is little chance of success. You can learn more about the ‘Legal Workforce Act’ at the NumbersUSA website.

    America should invest in its people and stop discovering new ways to subsidize foreign wars, foreign governments and make our own sovereign nation less resilient as it once was. We have judges who don’t comply with the letter of the law and interpret their Liberal ideology from the bench. We have been invaded over at least four administrations by extraordinary amounts of poverty, that our country is expected to absorb, that taxpayers are expected to be the benefactor. E-Verify will totally slow the magnitudes who come here, with their palms open. These are ECONOMIC PEOPLE well aware of America’s entitlement programs. They are not the 19th century poor, that were viewed the Statue of Liberty for the first time and expected nothing upon arrival on Ellis Island.

    These new illegal aliens know before arriving here how to work the system. Family and friends are well acquainted how to get their fingers in the taxpayers pies. Supervisor Mike Antonovich stated: “The argument that illegal’s foreigners contribute more than they receive in government services is nonsense Illegal immigration has had a catastrophic economic impact on Los Angeles County Our bankrupt health care delivery system has become an HMO for the world and criminal illegal aliens are overwhelming our criminal justice system.” Nearly 100,000 children of 60,000 undocumented parents receive aid every year. Antonovich released new statistics for 2011 showing social spending for those families in his county rose to $53 million in November, putting the county government on track to spend more than $600 million on related costs for the year — up from $570 million in 2009. Combined with public safety costs and health care costs, the City Supervisor claimed the “total cost for illegal immigrants to county taxpayers” was more than $1.6 billion in 2010. How can taxpayers be so deluded by Democratic Governors, Mayors and officials who are parting these dollars, they should be going to our senior citizens. Many programs have been cut back in Los Angeles, but taxpayers are subsidizing foreign aliens; old people are principally hard hit. “Not including the hundreds of millions of dollars for education,” Undoubtedly this is a astronomical problem from the East to West coast, hat Congress prefers to leave alone, except for a few Stewart lawmakers. The TEA PARTY has a strong commitment to transform this country from a debtor nation, to once again a creditor nation that must start with the illegal alien occupation.

    Remember Illegal aliens have voted in previous elections and overlooked. The Tea Party will be manning the election precincts and investigating forged registrations and irregular absentee ballots in 2012.

    NO copyright, ever. Distribute to all of AMERICA.

    Like

    • philebersole Says:

      I don’t think there is widespread voter fraud, only objection to registering new voters that tend to vote Democratic.

      The George W. Bush administration conducted an intensive investigation of voter fraud from 2002 to 2007, and was able to convict only 86 persons. About 300 million votes were cast during that era.

      “It is more likely that an individual will be struck by lightning than he will impersonate another voter at the polls,” according to the Brennan Center for Justice.

      Here is a link to a good article on this subject.

      http://www.rollingstone.com/politics/news/the-gop-war-on-voting-20110830?print=true

      Unauthorized migrants would be particularly unlikely to attempt to vote. The last thing they want to do is call attention to themselves.

      Like

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