Political posturing is more important than plight of the undocumented–apparently for Washington politicians who are more concerned about short-term gain than either the long-term economic good or doing the right moral thing on the immigration front.
Politically cynical? Perhaps. Realistically honest? Likely.
Both political parties relentlessly blame the other as the nation relentlessly detains and deports undocumented immigrants, almost all of whom are poor and most of whom are seeking a better life for themselves and their families.
U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) deported 368,644 undocumented individuals in fiscal year 2013.
The ICE report referred to these individuals as “removals.”
“Border removals” increased by 3 percent between fiscal 2013 and fiscal 2012. In fiscal 2008, “border removals” totaled 134,451.
Not surprisingly, Hispanic immigration reform advocates have called President Obama the “deporter-in-chief.”
Meanwhile, Democrats claim Obama “will act unilaterally” on immigration if House Republicans do not act by the end of July–two months away.
“Congress is crazy, but I’m not,” said U.S. Rep Jim Cooper (D-Tenn.) at a Nashville luncheon last week attended by business leaders and activists concerned about immigration.
Singing to the choir, Cooper accused House Republicans of being “missing in action” on comprehensive immigration reform. He claimed reform was still possible.
Finger pointing or blaming the other amounts to political posturing, providing more evidence of how broken Washington is.
The moral argument for immigration reform is rather obvious for most Christians–from the Hebrew Bible to James’ letter.
Our nation’s treatment of the undocumented is a far cry from protecting the poor to the royal law expressed in James 2:8 about love for neighbor.
The economic argument is also compelling.
According to a fact sheet from Americas Society/Council of the Americas (AS/COA), an organization focused on the economic development of the Western hemisphere with a commitment to open markets, and sponsor of the Nashville luncheon, immigrants make American cities economically competitive in five ways.
AS/COA asserts that immigrants “spur economic growth.” They are also more likely to launch businesses, creating jobs; counterbalance the decline in city population; increase housing values; and up the education level, adding high skill jobs.
Albeit anecdotal, it would appear that Nashville’s remarkable economic boom would be impossible without Hispanics in the building industry.
Conversation around meals suggests that the city badly needs high-skilled, information technology workers–and more often than not, these are immigrants.
So, yes, the nation needs comprehensive immigration reform for lots of economic reasons. But those reasons run counter to the need for Washington politicians to posture and pontificate.
If all politics is local, then perhaps it’s time to place wax in our ears, to ignore Washington and to do the right thing on the immigration front at the metropolitan and state levels.
Even if comprehensive immigration reform happened this year, a highly unlikely scenario, the faith community’s mission would be unfinished.
We still have a long road to travel toward treating the immigrant with justice and kindness.
Let us remember, as the Common English Bible reads, God “enacts justice for orphans and widows, and he loves immigrants, giving them food and clothing. That means you must also love immigrants because you were immigrants in Egypt” (Deuteronomy 10:18-19).
Robert Parham is executive editor of EthicsDaily.com and executive director of its parent organization, the Baptist Center for Ethics. Follow him on Twitter at RobertParham1 and friend him on Facebook.
Editor’s Note: To read a news brief about the undocumented shifting crossings from Arizona to Texas, click here. For a moral education resource on the plight of the undocumented, consider ordering the documentary “Gospel Without Borders.”